#YOGATIVITY: IMPROVE YOUR BALANCE FOR EXTRA FOCUS


Maintaining balance, in a more abstract sense, is all about achieving stability in your mind and feelings. Balance, in a physical sense, allows for power and strength. Physical balance is what keeps you upright and steady even while holding a difficult or strenuous position.

Balance helps you stand firm without falling, both literally and figuratively. Meaning, you cannot achieve perfect physical balance without the more abstract mental balance. And vice-versa. Without careful practice in both forms any number of things can throw us off balance. We become unsteady, in danger of falling, even confused or bewildered. But with proper balance those SAME things seeking to throw you off will leave you remaining level-headed, calm, and at peace. Sound impossible? It’s not.

Yoga can help you do JUST THAT!

While most of us find ways to practice balance in our everyday lives, whether that be prioritizing work tasks or monitoring time spent with friends and family, we tend to neglect our physical balance. Perhaps you feel clumsier than a three year old or maybe you’ve reached an age where you’ve noticed a decrease in your overall sense of steadiness. Yoga allows you to practice the often ignored physical and emotional aspects of balance.

Now, put yoga and balance together in a sentence and you might be picturing a veteran yogi up in a headstand or it may call to mind visions of yourself teeter-tottering on one leg. But the kind of balance you can achieve through a yoga practice is so much more than that. It has the power to prevent injuries as you move through your everyday life and as you age over time. Not to mention, balance improves mental tranquility and focus, relieves stress, decreases lethargy, and keeps you centered and grounded.

These balancing poses are particularly excellent for people seeking a greater sense of focus; like students, politicians, artists, scientists, and writers. They could also prove beneficial for individuals at risk of repetitive strain injuries; like those who work long hours at a desk or spend a lot of time driving.

 Yoga Poses to improve balance

  • Always warm up before performing any asanas. (Sun Salutations)
  • If you have trouble maintaining your balance, practice with your free hand against a wall for support.
  • All of these poses strengthen ankles, legs, shoulders, and back muscles, tones abdominals, improves posture, and improves sense of balance.
  • Try to follow the Sivananda structure by starting and ending your practice in savasana (laying down-corpse pose)
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Boat

Sit on your mat. Slightly lean back, bending your knees, support yourself with your hands behind your hips. Your back should be straight.
Lift your feet off the floor as your lean back. Find your balance between your sit bones and tailbone.

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Boat: more difficult

(AVOID ROUNDING YOUR SPINE)
Inhale, slowly straighten your legs, so that they form a 45 degree angle. Lift your arms to your sides.
-Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

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Lord of the Dance

Begin standing, bend your right knee, contract the muscles on your left thigh, keep both hips open.
Turn your right palm outward, reach behind your back and grab the inside of your right foot with your hand.
Lift through your spine, raise your right foot toward the ceiling.
-Hold for 20 seconds to 1 minute

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Full Lord of the Dance

Level: advance, more difficult
Always warm up before attempting difficult backbends.
-Keep your standing leg straight and your muscles contracted.

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variation

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Extended hand-to-toe

-Slowly start turning your leg/right leg out to the side, maintaining your grasp with two fingers on your big toe.
Breath steadily and hold for 30 seconds.
-work on both sides

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Extended hand-to-toe

Begin standing. Shift your weight onto your right foot. Grab your left big toe with two fingers of your left hand curled around it.
If possible: straighten your left leg.
Gaze at a single spot for balance
-Hold for 30 seconds
-work on both sides

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Tree

Begin standing, shift your weight onto right/left foot, draw your left foot up and place your soles against your inner left thigh.
-hold for 30 second to 1 minute
-repeat on opposite side
-Keep both hips squared forward

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Chair

Begin standing, raise both hands over your head, keeping arms straight and lengthening your spine.
Bend your knees at a 45 degree angle tot he floor, keeping lower back straight.
Allow weight of upper body to sink into your pelvis and heels.
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Eagle

Begin in a standing position, shift your weight to your right leg and then bend your knees slightly. Lift your left foot as you balance on your right and cross your left thigh over the right.
Cross your arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above your left, then bend elbows. Try to wrap your arms around each other until your palms touch.

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Eagle

Level: Beginner
Make sure to work on both sides.
-This pose stretches ankles, calves, thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back. Improves concentration and balance.
-Hold for 30 second to 1 minute

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Crow

Level: Intermediate
Best to try this one with a teacher or at a studio.
-If you are afraid of falling forward place a blanket or pillow in front of you as cushion.
-Gaze at a spot on the floor in front of you to maintain balance.
Avoid dropping your head, and jumping into the pose.

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Headstand

Level: advance
Please be careful if you are trying to this pose for the first time. I suggest you build up your core strength first and try to go up as slow and as steady as possible until you are able to achieve balance.
-Best to learn this one with a teacher.

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