If you’re anything like me, Graceful was never a word used in your description….(insert REALLY BIG HUGE SIGH HERE BY MY PARENTS.) I was definitely a more rough and tumble tom boy and I took my fair share of licks because proprioception and I weren’t on a first name basis.
Proprioception–in the easiest terms, is knowing where you are in space and time. So–for instance, close your eyes. Open your arms out as wide as they’ll go. Now, bring your pointer fingers together out in front without opening your eyes. (challenging huh?) A slightly easier version of this is to –with closed eyes and arms wide, bring your fingertips to your nose without looking.
Back to the point about balance.
Suffice it to say, balance wasn’t my forte–and honestly it still isn’t the best, BUT–my balance practice has improved tremendously, and continues to do so, because of these 3 + 2 things I want to share with you today.
Top 3 tips to improve your balance. (check out this video here.)
Now, first of all, this isn’t just for your yoga practice, this can help you in any situation on or off the mat. It just so happens, that in the context of this post and the video associated with it, I am talking about standing yoga balance poses. The fact of the matter is, better balance on the mat translates to better balance OFF the mat. So, if you’re worried about your balance, keep on practicing! That’s the ONLY way it’ll improve. Don’t worry, if you’re super wobbly at first—so is everyone! (Have you seen a toddler learn how to walk?) If you are a self pronounced uncoordinated person, you have an option–that option is to practice these tips while you’re working on your balance, and I promise you, you will see improvement.
- BELLY IN! Yup, this one should probably sound a little like your mother or grandmother–when they said, suck your belly in, pull those shoulders down, chest is proud….the first step to your balance is BELLY IN, or stomach muscles engaged. When you engage your abs, it helps to bring your center of gravity inward–you know, towards the center, which helps build your stability. It also helps relieve some pressure off your low back, so –keep your belly in.
1.1) FEET DIRECTLY BENEATH YOUR HIPS. Since this is supposed to be about just the top 3 tricks to improve your balance, you’re getting a bit of a bonus when we talk about foot placement. As you remember to keep your belly engaged, take a second to check out your feet. If they are directly beneath your hips, when you shift your weight from one foot to the other, it’s easier to do so with those stable, wider based feet. When you keep the grounded foot beneath the hip and belly in–the center of gravity is easier to control.
2) The harder the surface, the easier it is to balance. That means, if you struggle with balance on a soft, carpeted surface, try moving to a hard, concrete or tile surface, and see how it feels. The more cushion you have, the more unstable the base is for your feet, so the balance is more difficult. As you work on your balance in the yoga studio, try taking a step off of your yoga mat and see if things improve.
2.1) Speaking of stepping off the mat, always remember, the wall is your friend, so is a chair, or a sturdy stool. You can and should use all the props you need as you re-train your body on how to balance.
3) SNAP or WIGGLE your fingers. Ok, I know this is the silliest suggestion, basically in like FOREVER…and if someone gets annoyed at you in your yoga studio, tell them to keep working on practicing their own yoga–they are probably just jealous that you suddenly are steady eddy over there with the balance postures. Trust me when I say this, snapping your fingers helps. I can’t tell you why, but I am looking for research to support it. When your stomach is engaged and your feet are firmly planted on a hard surface and you go to balance, if things get “windy”–just try to snap your fingers and see if it helps. Who knows, you may create a new dance beat. I can promise that you’ll be creating a new neuro – passage way, training your feet and brain how to communicate to keep you upright for years to come.
This may seem silly, but balance is a SERIOUS matter. Falls account for 1 out of 3 broken bones in our country. Each year, over 3 million older people are treated for fall related injuries. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, and the stats just keep going on and on.….think about that. You don’t want to be one of those statistics, and you don’t have to be. Join us in studio for some yoga classes designed to help build up your balance muscles. Continue to practice your balance postures, and balance tricks, even when you’re not at the studio practicing. These exercises very well could help save you from broken bones or worse.
Thanks so much for checking out this post, and don’t forget about the video I made covering this exact same topic. Let me know if there’s something else you’d like to learn about! Can’t wait to practice with you again soon!