Thursday, 20 October 2016

Four prep poses for better balance

Standing balances are wonderfully calming for the mind and so great to practice if you suffer from anxiety but many of us find that we cannot stay in balance poses long enough to reap the benefits.  If you have a tendency to wobble and fall out of poses these four prep poses may help.

Tadasana - stand with the feet together with the outside edges of the feet parallel (for most of us this will mean separating the heels). Lift your insteps (if you can lift your middle three toes, this will help). Lift your kneecaps to engage your thigh muscles and give you the strong foundation.  Lengthen your tail bone down towards the floor to create space in the spine, lift your chest and roll your shoulder blades back and down.  Your chin should be level with the floor, the crown of your head reaching for the ceiling.  Your arms should be relaxed by your sides, your fingers gently curled. Try to find the point where you feel your weight is spread evenly through all four corners of your feet - the little toe side, big toe side, inner heel and outer heel.

How does this help? This pose increases your awareness of your centre of gravity which is important as the centre of gravity changes as you move into standing balances.

Challenging Pose - stand with your feet slightly apart.  Take your weight into your left foot, lift your right foot an inch or two off the floor and take your arms out.  This is the easy part.  Now close your eyes and see if you can remain balanced.  

How does this help? This feels a 'safe' balance - all you have to do if you feel unsteady is put your foot back to the floor.  It also demonstrates the importance of drishti, gaze point.  

Awkward Pose - stand with your feet slightly apart and take your arms forward at shoulder height.  Breathe in bend your knees, breathe out, engage your core and lift onto the balls of your feet.  Hold for a breath or two then breathe in lower your heels, straighten your legs, breathe out lower your arms.

How does this help? This pose strengthens the legs which is important for standing balances. It also helps strengthen the core which will help you hold standing balances.

Warrior 2 stand in the middle of your mat with your hands on your hips and take your feet as wide as is comfortable.  Turn your right leg to the right and the toes of the left foot in 45 degrees, lining up the heel of the front foot with the instep of the back foot (men) or heel with heel (women).  As much as possible have the hips level with the front of the mat but do not force the back hip point back because this will strain the SI joint. Inhale, stretch your arms out at shoulder height, lift your chest, exhale bend your right knee, turn to look down the fingers of your right hand.  Hold and breathe - see if you can hold through any intense sensations (any pain however, let go). To come out of the pose, inhale straighten the right knee, exhale hands to heart, turn your feet to face forward.  Repeat second side.

How does this help?  Warrior 2 helps with focus and concentration.  It increases body awareness which is useful in standing balances and strengthens the legs.  

You might also like-
'Yoga for seniors - improving your balance'-

Please see also- 'Yoga for anxiety- An introduction and yoga video' - and 'Yoga for anxiety- Starting to calm the mind'-

Janet x

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