About the series
The Yoga 15 Balance series is arguably the most challenging of all the 5 disciplines. The workouts require a skilful combination of alignment, strength and control, both in the sustained poses and in the smooth transition between postures.
You can download the full series here: vimeo.com/ondemand/yogabalancechallenge
Having a good sense of balance is going to give you an advantage in every sport, and in yoga, you have the added benefit of challenging your balancing skills barefoot. You have motion detectors in your feet that pick up subtle movements as your balance shifts. Practicing barefoot trains these proprioceptors, making them more effective and consequently your movements more precise. It also strengthens the feet and lower legs and improves flexibility and range of motion.
2 types of balancing poses
- One-legged balancing poses like Tree and Warrior 3 improve body awareness, stabilisation and proprioception.
- Arm balances including Side Plank and Crow build core and upper body strength, improve balance and increase body awareness.
The benefits of balance training
- Balance training, especially barefoot, strengthens the feet, ankles, knees, legs and hips.
- Balance training builds core stability in the abs, lower back, obliques, hips and pelvis.
- Balance training enhances body awareness and proprioception (the sense of knowing where you body is in space without looking).
- Balance training improves body control, precision and movement efficiency.
- Balance training improves coordination.
- Balance training increases agility, speed and power.
- Balance training improves posture.
- Balance training enhances concentration, focus and alertness.
- Balance training reduces susceptibility to injury.
- Balance training builds determination and perseverance.
- Balance training calms the mind.
Balance training and the brain
Balancing sequences that challenge your centre of gravity not only train physical skills including strength, stability and agility, but also have significant neurological benefits.
- Balance training strengthens networks in the brain that control mental efficiency – improving concentration, focus and alertness.
- Balance training enhances coordination and agility by improving neuromuscular communication.
- Balance training improves the ability of every muscle and cell to react quickly and precisely.
- Balance training improves the integration of sensorimotor control from visual, proprioceptive, vestibular and motor inputs.
- Balance poses demand full concentration and the dropping of extraneous thoughts which calms the mind.
- Balance training requires determination and perseverance which builds mental resilience.
- Balance training increases your confidence to try more difficult poses and take on new athletic challenges.
Balance training tips
- Fix your gaze on a point that isn’t moving to help you maintain your balance.
- Seal your lips and breathe deeply in and out through your nose.
- Try to put aside distracting thoughts and bring your full attention to the sequence.
- Aim for stillness in the poses and smooth, fluid transitions between postures.
- Observe the subtle micro-adjustments that you unconsciously make to maintain your balance as this will enhance your body awareness.
- Don’t be discouraged if you fall over – just recover your balance and try to get back into the pose.
- Remember that balance is a complex skill that requires consistent practice.
- Even if you struggle with some poses initially, keep practicing them to speed up the signals in your brain that make your movements more precise.
- As your mastery of balance improves, challenge yourself to try harder and more complicated sequences.
Take the Balance Challenge
If you’re aiming for peak physical and mental performance, incorporate balance training into your exercise program 2-3 times a week. You can download the full Yoga for Balance series here:
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