Do you have bad balance?
Do you suffer from balancing issues like Vertigo, Inner ear issues, post-stroke problems?
Yoga can help. When we practice we’re not only working on our physical body.
We’re also working on our energy and our mind.
Causes of Balance Problems
Many different conditions can cause trouble with balancing. Vertigo is one of the most common. An inner ear infection is another. Meniere’s disease is another inner ear problem that causes vertigo, among other unpleasant symptoms. Other causes of balance problems are as a result of stroke, head injuries, allergic reactions, ageing, migraines and changes in atmospheric pressure. Yoga can help people who suffer from these conditions.
One great brain gain from practising balance exercises is they keep the brain supple and young and enhances “higher” brain functions like reading, memory, comprehension, and mathematics. Studies show that challenges to your coordination, agility and balance rewire your brain in a way that is fundamentally different from aerobic or strength training.
A strong sense of balance promotes stillness in yoga poses, as well as stillness in your mind. As your balance improves you’ll also notice the strengthening of your muscles and improve flexibility and overall muscular control, as well as a greater body awareness.
A very important reason to practice balancing is that research has shown that there’s a link between people who had a reduced ability to stand on one leg were shown to have lower cognitive functions of memory and spatial awareness.
Anyone who suffers from impaired balance, from children to older adults, should first seek medical advice. Then they should pay special attention to making balance improvements to help mitigate the risks of potential cognitive impairment or decline.
Research results: A published article in “Stroke,” the journal of the American Heart Association, claimed that yoga classes can help stroke survivors improve
their balance. A pilot study looked at 47 participants who had suffered a stroke at least six months earlier. Those who practised yoga at least twice a week improved their balance significantly more than those who had no further rehabilitation. Researchers hypothesized that the breathing and meditation components might make yoga more useful than other types of exercise.
What type of Yoga to practice?
If you suffer from balance problems a slow-paced yoga practice is best. Avoid fast-paced practices where you quickly move from pose to pose. These are a recipe for dizziness.
Tips for trying a class
- In a class position yourself in a part of the room where you won’t be distracted by the movements of other students, for instance, the front row.
- Or you could stand in a back corner and turn away from the class if you find the movements of other students are making you dizzy.
- Yoga may not be a total cure for the many conditions that can affect your balance. Use your yoga practice in conjunction with your medication.
How Yoga can create Balance in your life?
The more your balance improves on the mat the more you will see the benefits of this practice in your life.
Yoga will happen when you can use these benefits to improve the way you deal with situations in your life, causing a positive effect on the people around you and the whole world. That is how powerful your yoga practice can be! When we practice we’re not only working on our physical body. We’re also working on our energy and our mind. As we develop our practice we can see the results of all this work in our life: we feel more comfortable in our bodies, we have more energy, our emotions become more stable and our minds more focused. The balancing of the mind will have a positive impact on the balance of the emotional, energetic body and the physical body.
The balancing of the energetic body happens as we release energy where we have an excess and we increase energy where we have a deficiency. Basically, during practice, you will cleanse your body from any negative energy for example anxiety, anger, stress and as you eliminate these energies you will make space for new positive energy to replace it.
How do I do it?
- It is important that when you try to balance, you keep your eyes still in one spot.
- As you still your eyes, you should bring your attention inward and keep your mind still as you feel your body in the pose.
- The less you think about it the more you allow your body to do what it needs to do!
- It’s always good to focus on whichever part of your body is touching the floor and feel the strength of your body pushing the floor away.
- Conscious Breath: While holding a pose be sure to keep your breathing slow and gently controlled, this will help to keep your body steady.
- Hold a point of focus: Before attempting to assume a balancing asana, find a stationary spot in the room to fix your eyes on. For example, a point on the wall/picture straight ahead of you. Hold your gaze on this point and steady yourself first before entering fully into the pose. As you slowly come into the pose, keep staring at that same point. This orients your body giving it a visual anchor, whilst greatly improves balance.
- Concentrate on the area requiring the most activity: Whenever anyone comes into a pose requiring balance there will likely be one specific area of the body’s musculature that is most taxed in order to maintain it. Using the tree pose for example, the area most taxed will be the ankle and leg of the standing foot. While remaining in this pose, focus your attention to the ankle and leg. Feel each tiny muscle, nerve and reflex working constantly to keep you upright and balanced. Keep your mind focused on this area while remaining relaxed.
Don’t Try Too Hard!!!
Yoga for balance
Tree Pose ( Vriksasana )
- Start standing on both of your feet and balancing.
- Shift your weight to the left foot and bend your right knee resting the toes of your right foot on the floor, slowly bringing it off the floor little by little and see how far you can go.
- If you need to keep the toes of your right foot on the floor, that’s fine.
- When you’re ready to bring your right foot up higher on your leg and place the sole of your foot against the inner left leg.
- Firmly press the sole of the right foot against your left leg. Turn the right knee outward to open the right hip.
- As your balance improves you can challenge yourself more by bringing your hands over your head, gently stretching upwards, opening your back, ribcage and chest.
- Stay in the pose for 10-30 seconds then eventually up to one minute. When ready, exhale and bring the right foot to the floor.
- Repeat the position on the opposite side always.
Table Balance (Dandayamana Bharmanasana)
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips in Table Pose.
- Keep your spine neutral.
Gaze at a point between both of your palms.
- Draw your belly button toward your spine engaging your abdominal muscles and without arching your back.
- Extend your right leg behind you at hip height.
- Extend back through the heel of your foot to lengthen your leg.
- With your abdominal muscles engaged extend your right arm forward at shoulder height and extend into your fingertips.
- Stay in the pose for 10-30 seconds then eventually up to one minute.
- When ready, exhale and bring the right foot to the floor.
- Repeat the position on the opposite side always.
Above all remember not to try too hard!!