As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain our balance and coordination to prevent falls and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. For 60-year-old yoga instructor, Lisa Smith, balance exercises are a crucial part of her daily routine. Lisa has been practicing yoga for over 30 years and has found that these 7 balance exercises have been instrumental in keeping her strong, agile, and steady on her feet.
1. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
One of the most iconic balance poses in yoga, the tree pose is a great way to strengthen the muscles in your legs and improve your overall balance. To practice the tree pose, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right foot off the ground, placing the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh or calf. Press your palms together at your heart center and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat on the other side.
2. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
The warrior III pose is an excellent balance exercise that also targets the muscles in your legs, core, and back. From a standing position, shift your weight onto your left leg and extend your right leg straight back behind you. At the same time, hinge forward at your hips and extend your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heel and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch to the other side.
3. Standing Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
Another great balance exercise for strengthening the muscles in your legs and improving stability is the standing half moon pose. From a standing position, shift your weight onto your left leg and extend your right leg out to the side. Bring your right hand to the floor or a block and lift your left arm up toward the ceiling, opening your chest toward the sky. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch to the other side.
4. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
The eagle pose is a challenging balance exercise that also helps to improve your focus and concentration. From a standing position, bend your knees slightly and cross your right thigh over your left thigh. Hook your right foot behind your left calf if possible. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, then cross your right arm under your left arm and bring your palms together. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch to the other side.
5. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
This challenging balancing posture is excellent for improving strength and stability in the legs, as well as improving overall coordination and focus. With time you can increase the difficulty by using a block or props to help deepen your stretch and improve your form.
6. Boat Pose (Navasana)
The boat pose is a great way to strengthen your core muscles and improve your balance. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. Extend your arms forward and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release.
7. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
While this pose may not seem like a traditional balance exercise, it is a great way to improve your stability and flexibility. To practice the standing forward bend, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at your hips, reaching your hands toward the ground. You can bend your knees slightly if necessary. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then slowly roll back up to standing.
Incorporating these balance exercises into your daily routine can help to improve your overall stability, coordination, and strength, while also reducing the risk of falls and injuries as you age. Remember to listen to your body and modify the poses as needed, and always consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries.