In the martial path journey, balance is one of the essential skills you will need to develop. In fact, balance will increase the power and effectiveness of your hits, as well their speed and fluidity. Having a good level of balance creates a stable structure of your legs helping you to stand your ground.
Balance in life is just as important. As we find balance in our body we find balance in our minds. Balancing postures help you to develop your awareness of your body as you move through space. Transitioning in and out of balances can be seen as an opportunity to practice being graceful through the transitions of life. Acknowledging the wobbliness in your ankles can help you prepare for times in life when you feel unstable.
Here are 4 Yoga inspired poses to improve your balance:
1. Tree pose
Tree pose is one of the most common Yoga poses. It’s a simple posture with many different variations for all levels.
This is how to do it:
- From a standing position with your feet close together, turn one knee out to the side bringing your heel onto your opposite ankle.
- Make sure the hips stay facing forwards. You can stay here or bring the foot up to the inside of the lower leg or the thigh.
- Bring the hands together to heart centre and your gaze to a point directly in front of you. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- For an extra challenge you can lift your arms overhead, maybe bringing the hands apart and swinging from side to side.
2. Warrior III
Warrior III is a strong standing posture that increases your focus and coordination. It helps you develop body awareness and strengthens many of the muscles in the legs, other than improving your balance.
This is how to do it:
- From a standing position with your hands on your hips, bring your weight into one foot.
- As you lift your opposite leg and slowly extend it backwards, start to tilt from the hips drawing the torso down towards the floor.
- Keep extending the floating leg pointing the toes behind you and lowering the torso until both the torso and the floating leg are parallel to the floor.
- Ensure the hips stay facing down. Keep your gaze directly in front of you and not looking to the floor. If you like, you can release the hands by the side or directly out in front of you.
3. Dancer’s pose
Dancer’s pose involves stretches in the hips, quads and shoulders, extension of the spine and, of course, a standing balance! With so much going on, it is important to keep your gaze fixed on one point in front of you (in Yoga, we call this your Dristhi) to cultivate a strong mental focus. This is how to do it:
- From a standing position bring the weight onto one foot. Bend the opposite knee taking hold of the inside of that foot. Bring the knees together.
- Raise the arm of the standing leg side overhead, bringing the thumb and the index finger to touch.
- You can choose to stay here or slowly come into the full variation. Begin to kick the back foot into the hand, creating an extension of the spine as you start to lower the torso forward.
- Reach through the extended arm and lift the chest. Keep your gaze facing forwards and continue to kick the foot back and up increasing the backbend.
4. Eagle pose
Eagle pose is an intense balance where the arms and legs are in a bind. This position flushes out toxins in the body as well as stretches the outer hips and shoulders. This is how to do it:
- From a standing position bring a slight bend into the knees and then the weight into one foot. Lift the opposite foot and wrap it around the standing leg one or two times.
- Keep the standing knee bent while you reach the arms out in front of you with the palms facing each other. The arm of the floating leg side is going to wrap underneath and bring the fingertips to either the wrist or the palm.
- Draw the hands away from the face and the elbows slightly up to increase the stretch in the upper back and shoulders. Keep your gaze forwards, and if you like, increase the bend in the standing knee lowering the hips to the floor.
As you can see, all of the postures have a huge impact on your balance. Moreover, while practising these poses you are also working on strengthening different muscles of the body and developing your focus. Bear in mind to keep the connection with your breath while doing these sequences.