Yoga poses can be a great way to help improve your balance. Achieving perfect poise and posture offers a plethora of benefits – like better posture and coordination, less risk of injury and improved flexibility. Plus, the process of attempting to hold a pose can also bring a wonderful sense of calm and clarity. If you’re ready to find your center, try these five standing yoga poses designed specifically to promote balance in your body.
Mountain pose, also known as “Tadasana,” serves as the foundation for some of the other standing poses, and can be modified in many different ways. It stretches the legs and feet and creates a sense of being grounded and connected to the earth for balance. Start by standing with feet together, arms by your side and your gaze forward. Root into all four corners of your feet, engaging abdominals, chest and shoulders up and back, and relax your jaw.
The pose can also be modified with both legs together or as eka pada succirandrasana, or single leg mountain pose, which can help challenge balance even more. To try the single-leg variation, start in mountain pose and slowly lift one leg up towards the sky on an inhale with arms stretched out in front and palms together. Maintain the position for five breathes before slowly releasing the foot back down to the mat.
Tree pose, or “Vrksasana,” is often regarded for its balancing capabilities – as the two foot-to-foot positions help foster concentration. Start by standing up and slowly shift your weight over to one foot with your knee bent. Carefully place the sole of the opposite foot onto the standing leg and hold the pose while trying to maintain balance in your hips. Try to bring your hands into prayer pose in front of your chest or raise them up towards the sky – the difficulty of this pose intensifies with the hand placement.
Try to focus your gaze on one spot to help keep your balance. The goal is to feel light like a tree and take deeper breaths, focused and centered. Hold for five breaths before slowly releasing the foot and coming back to standing position.
Warrior III, or “Virabhadrasana III,” is another popular balancing pose that challenges core strength and focus. This pose takes the traditional warrior one and two poses up a notch, requiring both your arms and legs to extend out in a ‘T’ formation. Start in mountain pose and slowly step back with one foot, extending your arms out in front and parallel to the ground. Extending your leg out behind you in line with your hips and spine, sink your hips low and maintain the position while trying to keep your arms and neck in one parallel line. You can modify the position by sturdily placing your hand onto the wall for support.
One pose that looks tricky, but is surprisingly doable is Dancer Pose, or “Natarajasana.” This pose combines agility, strength, flexibility and balance to create a wonderful sense of poise and grace. Begin standing in mountain pose and with one hand, grab the inside of your standing foot. As you lift the foot up, extend the other arm towards the front, then gently move the ankle into the hip crease. Once you feel more secure and stable, you can pick up you non-standing foot into the air as well, shifting your weight into the standing leg. Hold the pose for five breaths focusing on your breath and balance. When complete, slowly release the foot and bring both hands in prayer or namaste at the center of your heart.
Chair Pose or “Utkatasana,” offers similar balance challenges as the Warrior poses, just a bit lower! Start standing upright with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, arms parallel to the ground and palms facing forward. Lowering your torso down and bending your knees, try to keep your feet pressed firmly into the ground as you extend your arms up. To make this pose more challenging for your balance, reach your arms forward as you fold your body into the squat position. Hold for five deep breaths, then slowly release and come back to your standing position.