Falling out or off can certainly have severe consequences in one’s life, at any age and activity level, the motor fitness components of balance, agility, speed, coordination, and power are vital for functional daily living and optimal for athletic performance. Reduce your risk of fall and injury by introducing these ten yoga balancing postures into your training routine.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana I (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose I)
- Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) against a wall.
- Lift the right foot up and grab hold of the big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of the right hand. Bring the left hand to the hip.
- Firm the front thigh muscles of the standing leg, and press the outer thigh inward. Exhale and stretch the leg out and up in front of you, pulling the toes back.
- Hold the position for several breaths. Straighten the knee as much as possible. If you’re steady, swing the leg out to the side. Breathe steadily; breathing takes concentration, but it helps you balance.
- Exhale, return to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and repeat on the second side.
Garudasana (Eagle pose)
- Stand in Tadasana. Bend your knees slightly, lift your left foot up and, balancing on your right foot, cross your left thigh over the right. Point your left toes toward the floor, press the foot back, and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf. Balance on the right foot. If you are a beginner, instead of hooking the raised foot and calf, press the big toe of the raised-leg foot against the floor to help maintain your balance.
- Stretch your arms straight forward, parallel to the floor, and spread your scapulas wide across the back of your torso. Cross the arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above the left, then bend your elbows. Snug the right elbow into the crook of the left, and raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor. The backs of your hands should be facing each other.
- Press the right hand to the right and the left hand to the left, so that the palms are now facing each other. The thumb of the right hand should pass in front of the little finger of the left. Now press the palms together (as much as is possible for you), lift your elbows up, and stretch the fingers toward the ceiling.
- Stay for 15 to 30 seconds, then unwind the legs and arms and stand in Tadasana again. Repeat for the same length of time with the arms and legs reversed.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
- Stand in Tadasana. lace a block on its short side against the wall. Inhale, spread your feet 1m (3.5 ft) apart. Raise your arms to shoulder-level.
- Turn your right foot out to the right, parallel to the wall, and turn your left foot in, slightly to the right. Bend your right knee, and place the right palm on the block. Raise your left arm.
- Bear the body’s weight mostly on the standing leg. Press the lower hand lightly to the floor, using it to intelligently regulate your balance. Lift the inner ankle of the standing foot strongly upward, as if drawing energy from the floor into the standing groin. Press the sacrum and scapulas firmly against the back torso, and lengthen the coccyx toward the raised heel.
- Straighten your right leg. raise your left leg, until it is parallel to the floor. Keep your left arm stretched up, in line with the right arm. The back of your left hand should touch the wall.
- Look up at your left thumb. keep your weight on the right foot, thigh, and hip, not on your right palm.Hold the pose for 20 seconds. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)
- Kneel on the floor in Virasana. Clasp the inside of your left elbow with your right elbow with your right hand and the inside of your right elbow with tour left hand. Now lean forward and place your elbows on the floor. Ensure that the distance between your elbows is not wider than the breadth of the shoulders. Release your hands and interlock your fingers to form a cup with your hands. Keep your fingers firmly locked, But not rigid. Place your joined hands on the floor.
- Place the crown of your head on the floor. So that the back of the head touches your cupped palms. Check that only the crown is resting on the floor, not the forehead, or the back of the head. In the final pose. Your weight must rest exactly on the centre. Not the back or front, otherwise, the pressure will fall on your neck or eyes, causing your spine to bend. Make sure that your little fingers touch the back of the head, but are not underneath it. Hold this position for a few seconds, breathing evenly.
- Push up on the balls of your feet and straighten your knees. Keep your heels raised off the floor. To ensure that your torso is perpendicular to the floor, walk your feet toward your head, until the back of your body forms a vertical line from your head to the back of the waist.
- Exhale, and bring your knees toward the chest. Then, press your toes down on the floor, and push your legs upward, off the floor. This action resembles a hop and gives you the thrust to raise your legs. Bring your heels close to your buttocks.
- Press your elbows to the floor and lift your shoulders up, away from the floor. Exhale, and gently swing your knees upward in a smooth arc, until both your thighs are parallel to the floor. In this position, the entire upper body, from the head to the waist and hips, should be perpendicular to the floor. Do not move your elbows until you come out of the final pose.
- Continue to move the knees upward, slowly bringing them to point to the ceiling. Keep the heels close to the buttocks. Focus on your balance and do not allow your torso to move during this action. Steps 5, 6, and 7 constitute a gentle. Continuous movement, as you raise your legs toward the ceiling.
- Once your knees are pointing to the ceiling, hold the pose for a few breaths. Make sure that the spine is straight. Tighten the buttocks. Ensure that your thighs are positioned perpendicular to the floor, your lower legs bent toward tour back. Check that your shoulders do not tilt. Pause and get used to the feel of the position.
- Straighten your knees to bring the lower legs in line with the thighs, so that your body forms a vertical line, point your toes toward the ceiling. Tighten both knees, as in Tadasana, and keep your thighs, knees, and toes together. The entire body should be balanced on the crown, not on the forearms and hands, which should simply support the balance in the pose. Stretch your upper arms, torso, and waist upward, along the legs to the toes, ensuring that your torso does not tilt. Steadiness and a constant lift of the shoulders ensure stability in the posture. Hold the pose for 5 minutes, breathing evenly.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Regular practice of this posture will help focus the mind and cultivate concentration (dharana).
- Stand with the feet together and the arms by your sides (tadasana.)
- Bend the right leg at the knee, raise the right thigh and bring the sole of the right foot as high up the inside of the left thigh as possible.
- Balancing on the left foot, raise both arms over the head keeping the elbows unbent and joining the palms together.
- Hold the posture while breathing gently through the nostrils for about 10 complete breaths.
- Lower the arms and right leg and return to the tad-asana, standing position with feet together and arms at the sides.
- Pause for a few moments and repeat on the opposite leg.
Anantasana (Side-Reclining Leg Lift)
- Lie on the floor on your right. Press actively through your right heel, flex the ankle, and use the outside of the foot to stabilize the position (if you still feel unstable, brace your soles against the wall.)
- Stretch your right arm straight out along the floor parallel to your torso so that you create one long line from the heels to your finger tips. Bend your right elbow and support your head in your palm. Slide the elbow away from your torso to stretch the armpit.
- Externally rotate your left leg so the toes point toward the ceiling, then bend and draw the knee toward your torso. Reach across the inside of the leg and take hold of the left big toe with your index and middle fingers. Secure the grip by wrapping the thumb around the two fingers. (If you’re not able to comfortably hold the toe, loop a strap around the sole and hold the strap.) On an inhale, extend the leg up toward the ceiling.
- The raised leg will likely angle slightly forward, while the top buttock will drop back. Firm the sacrum against the pelvis; this creates a kind of fulcrum that will help you move the leg slightly back toward a perpendicular position.
- Press actively through both heels. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release the leg, take a few breaths, and roll over onto your left side. Repeat for the same length of time.
This asana helps promote good circulation, as it directs the flow of the entire lower body towards the heart.
- Lie down flat on the floor, on your back, palms by your side facing
- Exhale and lift your legs up 30, then 60, then 90 and then around 130 degrees so they are extended behind your head. Stay in this position, breathing normally, for a few seconds.
- Now, gradually, exhale again, and straighten your legs up to 90 degrees, lifting your buttocks as well. Support the back of your trunk with your palms, keeping elbows on the floor. Gradually, walk your hands towards your shoulder blades, as you lift your body higher. Your elbows may tend to move outwards. Bring them in, so they are straight in line with your shoulders.
- You will notice that your hips tend to jut out backwards, while your feet tend to come forward over the head. This is not the right way to do it. Work at it so your body is in a straight line. Your hips, feet and shoulders should be aligned, so push your feet back and bring your hips and tailbone forward. Remember, this exercise is not as much about effort as it is about balance.
- Lift your body as high up as possible. Sarvangasana is a shoulder stand, so your body should be resting on your shoulders and not on your back. Hold this position for as long as possible.
- Remember to exhale while lifting your body up, but once your body is up, you can breathe normally. There is no need to hold your breath. Time yourself, so you can see how long you can remain in this position. The next time, try and balance your body for a little longer.
- To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso again, and roll your back torso slowly and carefully onto the floor, keeping the back of your head on the floor.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
- Come into downward facing dog with the hands about a foot away from the wall.
- Walk the feet in closer to the hands, bringing the shoulders closer to the wall.
- Bend one knee and kick up with the other leg, bringing the heels to the wall over your head.
- Practice taking the heels off the wall and balancing.
- Bring one leg down at a time and rest before trying to kick up with the opposite leg so you stay balanced.
This posture helps to strengthen your sense of balance and concentration. The arch formed by the back and stretched leg gently aligns the vertebrae of the spine restoring suppleness and easing strain caused by poor posture or long periods of sitting. It tones the muscles of the hips and legs as well as stimulates the chest muscles.
- Stand with the feet together and the arms by your sides (tadasana).
- Inhale and bend the right leg backward grasping the left foot with your left hand while simultaneously extending the right arm straight out in front.
- Continue raising the right arm upward until it is about 45 degrees from the floor while lifting the left leg as high as possible with the left arm.
- Hold the posture while breathing gently through the nostrils. Keep your gaze fixed slightly above the horizon.
- Remain in the natarajasana for about one minute then return slowly to a standing position. Repeat by reversing directions 2-4.
Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
- Get into the Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose. Place your right foot on top of your left foot. Place your hand on your hip and turn your body accordingly. You will now be supporting the weight of your body on your foot and hand on the left.
- Place the hand that supports your body a little ahead of your shoulders so that it is done in a slight angle from the floor. Keep your arm straight with the palm pressed firmly on the ground.
- Now tighten your thighs and apply weight on the floor through the heels of your legs. Your whole body is now in a diagonal alignment with the floor.
- You can also raise your right hand upward and remain in this balanced position for a while.
- Return to the Downward Facing Dog pose again and perform the same exercise on your right side.
The key to building balance, coordination, and preventing injury from falling as we age is in mastering transitions and developing power.