We are always using our balance in everyday life whether it is taking a walk down the street, riding your bike, doing squats on a bosu, hiking on an uneven trail or even just going up and down the stairs. Sometimes we take our balance for granted, so take a moment to honor your body's amazing ability to balance and engage in a variety of activities everyday!
Balance training is important for everyone, from athletes to casual exercisers. You might not realize how important having good balance is until you experience an injury or maybe even a fall (let's hope it doesn't come to this!).
There are many ways to improve your balance such as standing on one leg or using workout equipment such as a bosu or stability ball that creates that added challenge. The following variations on one exercise can be done without any equipment and will improve your balance today! Try these three variations on tree pose to improve your balance. Tree pose not only improves balance, but also strengthens the thighs, calves, ankles, and spine, stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders, and also relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet. Give it a try!
Stand in Mountain Pose with both feet on the floor. Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, keeping the inner foot firm to the floor, and bend and lift your right knee. Place your right foot on your ankle, calf or thigh (not on the knee). Press the right heel into the inner left groin, calf or ankle toes pointing toward the floor. The center of your pelvis should be directly over the left foot. Rest your hands on your hips. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position and lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. While pressing the right foot into the left leg, resist with the outer left leg. Hold and breathe for 10 breaths. Step back into Mountain Pose and switch to the other side.
Follow the same steps above, but place the hands in Prayer Position in front of the chest instead of placing the hands on the hips. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you on the floor about 4 or 5 feet away. Hold each side for 10 breaths.
Follow the same steps as in version 1 and this time extend the arms straight up to the sky. Find something to fix your gaze on 4 to 5 feet away. Hold each side for 10 breaths.
Try all three versions with your eyes closed! Your vision is a big part of being able to hold your balance and when we fix our gaze on one spot it is easier to balance. Did you notice? You can try shifting your gaze and notice what happens and then perhaps close the eyes. This is not for beginners, but give it a try after you have mastered the above exercises. Be sure to use your best judgement and listen to your body putting safety first!
Balance training is an important component of your exercise routine. By incorporating the above exercises you will notice an immediate improvement in not only your balance but also in flexibility, strength, posture, coordination and core strength. I hope as you get stronger this will give you the confidence to pursue new and exciting fitness goals and adventures!