A June 2022 article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed results of a twelve-year study examining links between balance and longevity. The headline is: if you can’t stand on one of your feet for ten seconds within three attempts, you are at almost twice the risk of dying within ten years than those who can. Of course, life is always more complex than a scary headline reveals. However, standing on one leg does require good balance, which is linked to healthy brain function, muscle strength and good blood flow.
Yoga And Balance
Yoga practice includes balancing postures in many forms, from classic one-legged postures such as vrksasana (tree pose) to the (only after a multitude of lifetimes – at least for me) ardha mukha vrksasana pada padmasana (handstand with legs in full lotus). Although the latter is much more challenging, both postures improve your balance through developing strength, flexibility, focus and confidence.
They also use the same yogic “techniques” to help achieve them. Visual focus (drishti) leads the practitioner to one pointed focus. At first this may be staring at a spot on the wall to help us balance but can develop to specific gaze points for each posture (from the tip of your nose to the tips of your toes) to an even quieter inward gaze and a quietening of mental chatter.
Balancing postures also require us to be aware of our touch on the ground. This could be with the standing foot in tree posture (the inner foot should press down and often doesn’t want to) to the hands, and particularly the precise pressure of the finger pads on the floor when balancing in handstand.
Consciously observing our senses is one of the key elements of mindfulness, as is non-reacting internally. Try not to judge yourselves for not being good at something, but instead notice when your mind’s judge/critic/perfectionist wants to take over, and instead be kind to yourself and playful in your practice. Celebrate that you are on your mat, practising, focusing (if only for a few moments) and that you have given yourself that gift.
Improving Balance With Breathe Yoga & Pilates
If you’d like to explore postures to improve your balance further, then please do check out my four balance videos. I’d love to know how you get on.
Alternatively if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can offer you here at Breathe Yoga & Pilates then please get in touch. We’d be more than happy to help.