Continuing Basics: Even Better Balance

My post Basics: Build Better Balance explains how to progressively challenge your balance by standing on one leg on increasingly unstable surfaces. Once you’ve built that strength, you can find a new challenge in reducing the amount of surface area in contact with the floor.

Standing in bare feet on a hard surface, find the good lines of mountain pose: a neutral pelvis, a long spine, a broad chest without a big backbend. Step your legs together, creating as much contiguous surface area as you can—this will make things easier. Lift your arms and your heels. You’ll probably wobble back and forth; tighten in toward the midline with both your legs and your core muscles, and use your gaze to help you balance.

Lift your heels a little or a lot as you maintain a steady mountain-pose alignment
Lift your heels a little or a lot as you maintain a steady mountain-pose alignment; photo from my latest workshop on Yoga for Athletes at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

Sweeter

If this is tough, sweeten the experience by:

  • Keeping your heels quite low to the ground
  • Resting one or both hands on a wall or counter
  • Keeping your arms straight off to the sides, rather than overhead
  • Looking down at the floor, as you’ll see me (in blue, on platform) doing in the photo above

    Spicier

If this is quite easy, intensify the experience by:

  • Separating your heels to hip distance, instead of having your legs tough
  • Lifting your gaze to eye level or closing your eyes
  • Bending your knees and lowering your hips down and back, as if sitting into an invisible chair while wearing invisible high heels

Either way, keep your core engaged and your breath flowing. Slotting a few rounds of this balance pose into your week will keep you steadier as you move through space in your sport.

—Sage

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Sage Rountree

Sage Rountree is author of six books on yoga for athletes, most recently Everyday Yoga.

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