Best yoga poses for balance.

Would you be super surprised if I told you the best yoga poses for balance are standing balance poses? I thought not!

Further to our discussion on the Earth element / prthvi previously, standing balance poses really helps us to get grounded and balance at the same time. From personal experience, when I am a little less grounded, or when I am running ahead of myself, or when I lack inertia, my standing balance is shaky or unstable, and sometimes just doesn’t happen. So let’s not even think about arm balances or inversions!

Seriously, standing balance yoga poses are good indicators of how balanced we are in life or for that day. There is no scientific proof of this, but yoga is a little beyond science, it’s also experiential. If you are already practising, try it and see (and let me know in the comments of your experiences!).

In addition, as we grow older, the more important it is to be able to balance. If you think about it, we are always in balancing when we walk or run, because we always have one foot off the ground. As we age, this becomes a greater challenge when we stumble or have less coordination.

Important.

Aside from individual muscle conditioning, what is vital for balance and injury prevention in yoga is coordination and the ability to master transitions (i.e. moving well and moving mindfully), Keep this in mind as you practise these (and other yoga poses) on the mat, and also keep this in mind when moving in your daily life.

All yoga balance requires to ground into our very centre – our core – to help us ground and balance, so have your awareness and activation at your core as well.

So here are four yoga standing balance poses that I have selected for us to practice to get our balance on! There are many more other yoga balance poses,

Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3).

Virabhadrasana 3, or Warrior 3, is the third pose of the warrior sequence – based on the philosophy of beheading our ego or need to stick to rules and rituals even when there is injustice. For more philosophy on the story, see the link below:

  • Begin in Tadasana / Mountain Pose.
  • Draw your right knee up to your trunk and hug the knee in as a standing balance. If this is somewhat challenging, work on this for a week or so before proceeding to the next step.
  • On the next inhale, place your palms to heart in a prayer position, then as you exhale, lengthen your right backwards.
  • Keep the left leg as engaged as possible. Be mindful not to grip the left toes down, as this causes the sheering force to drive up to the knee.
  • Keep your core engaged, look on the ground slightly ahead of you if possible, rather than looking right down.
  • Keep your chest open, shoulders relaxed, and the right leg reaching back.
  • The important thing about Virabhadrasana 3 is to consider ourselves like a weighing scale. The more your right leg lengthens back, the more buoyant your torso will feel. The more engaged both legs are (especially the right leg), the more you can maintain your balance.
  • If you are feeling comfortable, extend your arms from prayer to overhead.
  • After five breaths, draw your right knee forward and up, while drawing your arms back down, with palms in prayer (exit the way you entered the pose).
  • Repeat the process for five breaths on the other side.
  • If you are concerned about your balance, practice alongside a wall before going unsupported.

Virabhadrasana 3 is a pose that challenges your body with both backward- and forward-bending elements. The yoga pose also builds strength in the legs, with good grounding for body and mind.

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana A (Extended Hand to Toe Pose A).

  • Begin grounding in Tadasana.
  • Draw your right knee up to your trunk and hug the knee in as a standing balance. If this is somewhat challenging, work on this for a week or so before proceeding to the next step.
  • On the next inhale, grip your right big toe with your thumb placed on the outside of the toe, and the middle and index finger in between the big and second toe. If your hamstrings hamper the extension of your leg, use a yoga strap instead of going for a big toe grip with your fingers.
  • Place your left hand on your waist. Keep your chest open, shoulders relaxed and breath long.
  • On the exhale, extend the right leg forward (whether using a strap or using your fingers).
  • Draw your awareness throughout your body as you hold the pose for five breaths. Release tension in those body parts through your exhales.
  • Keep the left leg as engaged as possible. Be mindful not to grip the left toes down, as this causes the sheering force to drive up to the knee.
  • After five breaths, exit the way you entered the pose. Repeat the process on the other side.
  • If you are concerned about your balance, practice alongside a wall before going unsupported.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana requires is to ground both into our core – our centre – for balance. As we practice this pose, we may find ourselves ‘shining’ more, as yoga balance taps into our manipura chakra – the energy wheel that helps us shine and have confidence.

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon).

This yoga standing balance pose is theoretically the easiest pose featured here, because it has two points of contact to the floor (i.e. two grounding points) – your foot and hand. However, it may be the hardest pose as it requires open hips.

  • Begin in Tadasana / Mountain Pose.
  • From there, on the next exhale, fold yourself forward into a standing arch.
  • Place your left hand on the ground right under your shoulder. If you are attempting this for the first time, perhaps use a vertical yoga block for that hand (on how to use yoga props, go here).
  • Place your right hand on your waist, then as you exhale, extend your right leg back, as if you are reaching back with that leg (as with Virabhadrasana 3 above).
  • Then on your next inhale, open up your hip so that your right shoulder faces the ceiling, and your right leg points to the right.
  • Keep looking downward, ground well in the left leg, while keeping the toes relaxed.
  • Keep reaching the right leg back, your left hand merely supporting you. Check that your core is engaged.
  • Once you feel balanced and grounded, you can look sideways, If this works, then extend your right hand upwards.
  • After five breaths, exit the way you entered the pose. Repeat the process on the other side.
  • If you are concerned about your balance, practice alongside a wall before going unsupported.

Keep in mind the “weighing scale” philosophy of Virabhadrasana 3 – the more your floating leg is activated and reaching, the lighter and more buoyant your trunk will feel.

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana B (Extended Hand to Toe Pose B).

This is a variation of Utthitha Hasta Padangustasana A above. The same processes for the A variation is applicable, with the open-hip processes of Ardha Chandrasana as well.

  • Begin grounding in Tadasana.
  • Draw your right knee up to your trunk and hug the knee in as a standing balance. If this is somewhat challenging, work on this for a week or so before proceeding to the next step.
  • On the next inhale, grip your right big toe with your thumb placed on the outside of the toe, and the middle and index finger in between the big and second toe. If your hamstrings hamper the extension of your leg, use a yoga strap instead of going for a big toe grip with your fingers.
  • Place your left hand on your waist. Keep your chest open, shoulders relaxed and breath long.
  • On the exhale, extend the right leg forward (whether using a strap or using your fingers).
  • On your next inhale, open your right hip by drawing your right hip to the right. If you like a further challenge, look to your left.
  • After five breaths, Skilfully exit the pose as you entered, drawing the right foot forward, then bending the right knee, releasing the big toe or strap, and placing the foot down.
  • Repeat the process on the other side.
  • If you are concerned about your balance, practice alongside a wall before going unsupported.

Now you have learnt four yoga standing balance poses to help you find balance both on and off the mat. Please do use props or the wall in your journey to finding good grounding and balance.

If you have any questions, please do contact me. I look forward to helping you as best as I can. Do check out accessible yoga livestreams with me on Insight Timer, or my yoga livestream classes here.

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