Balance Improvement 101
by Monica | February 21, 2020
Are you feeling strong on your own two feet? Do you walk tall with confidence, assured that you won’t fall down? Maybe you are over confident and judge such an inquiry, thinking you are set in this department. No matter what, balance is necessary for us all each and every day and it’s not just standing on one foot that defines it. Having the ability to balance your checkbook, your schedule or your beautiful body when putting your pants on each day requires some concentration. Being mindful and disciplined helps to keep balance in check but take a look at these 3 tools that can help steady your feet and maybe even ground your life.
- FOCUS: When it comes to aiming for solid plans or having stable feet, your eyes play an important part. With your utmost attention, mindfulness, you can achieve many things in life. From fiercely focusing on a goal to looking literally at one object to help maintain your stance, your eyes on the prize or a bulls-eye are the first tool for improving balance. In yoga this is called your drishti; sanskrit for focused gaze. Using the senses taps into the inner concentration which in turn helps the intention to balance and maintain your vertical posture. Looking at something that is not moving is an added plus.
- BREATH: As with all of life’s challenges, the breath is a much needed resource to keep your balance. When we feel as if we are going to fall, literally or emotionally, we simply become shallow breathers. Using the diaphragmatic breath can allow a natural flow to what we sometimes block. Holding the breath is our standard reaction to fear or trauma. When practicing balance, breathe deeply and with steadiness. Start with a few breaths at a time and gradually build your balance stamina. Holding on to a chair while lifting one foot, keeping your focus and maintaining consistent breaths is the start to strengthening your roots. Which brings me to the 3rd tool..
- ROOTS & GLUTES: These 2 comprise the third helpful tool to enhancing your balance. Physically, I am referring to your feet for your roots which of course connect via your legs to the other important part to standing strong: the butt! As I often say in my yoga classes, “in order to rise up you must first root down.” Just like the mountains themselves, your stature begins at the earth below. The way your feet hit the ground affects all the joints and muscles above! That said, planting one foot solid then breathing into the legs, the glutes and upward is where your balance strength begins. Add the focus, deep breaths and much practice, and your balance will improve over time. Be patient and know it will get better. Be aware of the muscles in your buttocks and abs as well and know they play an important role in your balance.
In all honesty, a yoga practice will help your balance as well. Beyond the physical aspect, the training of the mind together with the body will not only assist balance but could ultimately prevent injury or even a fall. Before I trained or even took yoga, I was a 1st degree black belt in taekwondo. We used to do many drills learning how to fall correctly so we did not get hurt when sparring. Body awareness and breath helped a lot but there were still several times later in my life that I did fall and I am lucky to have recovered with just a few scratches and scars. Perhaps if I was more mindful, those falls wouldn’t have happened in the first place. I am here to tell you that you, too, can always have these 3 tools in your back pocket. Practice, be patient and stand strong in your base. Whether it’s balance the noun or balance the verb, utilize these actions and your body will feel empowered and safe in every step you take.