The most optimal life to live is one that contains balance. Not only can we achieve balance in the way we distribute our energy, but we can also focus on structural balance to avoid falling. As we get older, balance starts to decline. According to Colin Jairam, MD, F.A.A.F.P, CEO of Hybrid MD, "Injuries related to falls from poor balance in the elderly is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the senior population. Training your body to have proper balance, posture and core strength should start at an early age." Therefore, in order to help preserve your balance and stability for when you age, consider training it at least three times a week. While many yoga classes have balance postures in them, sometimes doing these same postures stand alone, can have a positive impact on your balance too.
The best approach to these postures is to find a padded ground to work on. Safety is very important. While I'm showing off my moves on a rock in a getty in Santa Monica, I do not encourage you to practice these postures under the same conditions. Be sure to focus on one point on the ground or off into the distance on something that isn't moving, as you get into each posture. Consider having a spotter for the more challenging ones or simply practice close to a wall for balance. Assuming you have a doctor's clearance and no major injuries, let's proceed with my favorite postures that will help bring balance into your life.
Standing on your left leg, lift your left arm up to the sky in alignment with your left ear, bend your right leg back, grabbing a hold of the outside of your right foot. Once you find your stability in your left leg, slowly kick your right foot into your right hand as you lean your chest forward, maintaining a straight back, with your chest slightly lifted. Find your drishti or focus on one thing that is not moving to maintain balance. Hold the pose for 5 deep breaths. Switch sides.
Standing on your right leg, push your weight down into the ground as you lift your weight up out of your rib cage. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Bring your left foot to the inner right ankle to start. Once you find balance, use your hands to guide your foot up to your high inner thigh, avoiding your knee. Find the synergy between your foot and your leg as you continue to keep your shoulders down and your hands at heart center. Hold this pose for 5 deep breaths. Switch sides.
Start standing with your big toes touching and crouch down separating your knees, but keeping your toes touching. Plant both palms on the ground about a foot in front of you and lift your hips up to the sky. With your elbows pointing back behind you (not flaring out to the side) bend the elbows and rock your knees forward to the back of your triceps while hollowing out your belly. Once your knees connect to your triceps, slowly lift one foot off the ground, finding your balance in your "core". Once you feel balanced, lift the second foot up and connect the feet together while balancing on the back of the arms. Be sure to look out six inches in front of you, otherwise if you look down or behind you, you can fall on your head.
Twisting Standing Pose:
Starting on your right leg, lift your left leg up to a ninety degree bend at the knee and square your hips out to the front (avoiding any hip hitching). Flex your left toes towards your shin. Once you feel stable through the balancing leg, take your right arm across your body to the outside of your left lifted knee and through the trunk only, rotate to face behind you using your left arm as a guide. Take your gaze over your left finger tips. Keep your hips facing forward as you twist from above your hips. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat the other side.
Standing Peace Fingers Around Toe Pose:
Standing on your right leg, bend your left knee and take your left peace fingers and wrap them around your right big toe. Slowly, with control, extend your left leg out to the side while lifting your chest and keeping your hips facing forward. Ground through your standing leg and allow the kicked out leg to offer you balance by contracting the muscles in the assisting arm along with the muscles in that leg. Hold for five deep breaths. Then switch sides.
Photo Credits: Xochitl Rodrigue from www.thexgallery.com