Reason number six to do yoga this year is to help improve your balance! With this being said, in order to improve balance two things must occur: you must be able to physically practice balancing poses (such as tree pose) and you must learn to ground and focus your energy and mind.
It’s often easier to start with the grounding of energy and focusing of mind, which will prepare you for the physical asanas. With all balancing postures the key is in the gaze: this goes hand in hand with focusing the mind. Keeping a gentle but steady gaze on the ground will help improve balance. And don’t look at another person or moving object, because as they move you will too! Grounding our energy is also part of getting out of our head, and into our body. As the mind gets distracted it is easy for the body to fall out of balance in a posture. However with a steady gaze and grounded energy it becomes much easier to hold ourselves in balance.
So how do you know if your energy is grounded? Many people are unaware of how their energy actually feels and because our energy is often linked to the state of our mind, the easiest way to ground is by focusing the mind with that steady gaze. If you’re a visual person you could also imagine light moving down through your body and rooting into the earth. This is a great visualization in tree pose since you are literally growing energetic roots.
Tree pose isn’t the only balancing posture in yoga, and there are many simple exercises you can start with to help improve balance. From hands and knees, lifting one leg behind you and the opposite arm in front of you can be a good place to start. Warrior postures involve balance and even triangle postures use balance.
When practicing balancing postures have fun, be playful, you can even use the wall for support! Keep core engaged, feel extension through the whole body in all directions from that core strength, and always remember to BREATHE!
If you suffer from knee, hip or leg issues it may be best to avoid weight baring balance on individual legs. Instead modify postures by distributing weight equally through both legs. Or even sit on a chair and focus on steady gaze and grounding your energy.
Please check with your doctor before beginning any new yoga routine.