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5 Easy Yoga Poses That Will Help Improve Your Balance & Stability

October 8, 2019

Practicing balancing poses can be one of the most enjoyable parts of a yoga class. And it turns out that standing on one leg while you bust out weird and wonderful shapes is also fantastic for the health of your mind and body

There are so many benefits that come from improving your balance, such as:

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  • Improved proprioception1 (the sense of where your body is in space)
  • Increased body awareness, control, and coordination
  • Stabilized feet and ankles, which reduces your risk of injury
  • Stronger core, which protects against lower back pain 
  • More developed powers of focus and concentration 
  • Builds grit and determination that transfer into other areas of your life
  • Quiets the mind, which allows you to deal better with stress

In other words, there is so much to be gained from balance poses—and, needless to say, it can also improve your yoga practice.

The connection between balance and yoga

Not only does a good sense of balance reduce your risk of injury2, but poor balance is closely related to cognitive decline3. And if you train balance the yogi way, you get all the benefits that come from a well-rounded and holistic practice. Here are some of those advantages:

  • In yoga, we practice balancing postures barefoot, which keeps the mechanoreceptors in your feet that pick up on subtle sensations of movement responsive and attuned. 
  • We combine our balance training with flexibility, strength, and mobility work to create a well-rounded, functional physique.
  • We challenge our balance in static poses as well as in dynamic sequences, which improves our ability to move with coordination, grace, and agility. 
  • We use our drishti, the Sanskrit word for "focused gaze," to integrate body and mind into the practice and develop our powers of focus and concentration.
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What to know before you start practicing.

Before you jump into the world of balance poses, there are a few things you should know. The first is that there are three types of yoga balancing poses: one-legged balancing poses, arm balances, and advanced twists.

I've put together the below checklist, which you should definitely walk through before tackling the poses below. Keep these pointers in mind as you practice these poses to increase your chances of staying right-side up: 

  1. Find your drishti (or focused gaze). Focus on a point at eye-line, that isn't moving, to help you keep your balance.
  2. Focus all your attention on the present moment. This is meditation
  3. Don't be discouraged if you fall over. Just hop straight back into it and try again. 
  4. When you start to get really good, you can play around with closing your eyes.
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Ready to get to work? Here are the poses.

Eagle Tree

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  • Shift your weight onto your right foot and position the sole of your left foot as high as you can on the inside of your right leg, toes pointing straight down. It's crucial that your raised foot rests above or below and not on your knee.
  • Cross your left arm over the right, bend your elbows, wrap your forearms, and try to bring your palms together.
  • Seal your lips and hold the pose still for 5 to 10 slow breaths.
  • Release the pose and switch sides.
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Airplane Warrior 3 

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  • Shift your weight onto your right foot and hug your left knee into your chest.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, kick your left foot back, and bring your arms back by your sides—palms face-up.
  • Try to keep your lower back flat, and point your back toes straight down.
  • Hold the pose as still as you can for 3 to 5 deep breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • Release the pose and switch sides.
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Side Plank Tree

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  • Start in plank. Then shift your weight onto your right hand and the outside edge of your right foot. 
  • Stack your left foot on top of the right and flex both feet.
  • Then bring the sole of your left to your right inner thigh and reach your top hand up and over. You can drop down onto your forearm if you prefer.
  • Seal your lips and hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • Release the pose and switch sides.

Revolved Side Angle

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  • Start in low lunge with your left foot forward and your back knee resting on the mat.
  • Lift your hands off the mat and press your palms together at your chest.
  • Bring your right elbow to the outside of your left thigh and twist your upper body to the left.
  • Tuck your back toes and lift your right knee off the mat.
  • Try to hold the pose still for 3 to 5 deep breaths on each side.

Candy Cane

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  • Start in warrior 2, then bring your right fingertips to the mat or to a block.
  • Straighten your right leg and lift your left leg up to hip height.
  • Bend your left knee and take hold of your left foot with your left hand.
  • Press the top of your foot into your palm and open up your chest.
  • Seal your lips and hold the pose for 3 to 5 breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • Release the pose and switch sides. 
Abi Carver, NASM-CPT
Abi Carver, NASM-CPT
Certified Personal Trainer & Yoga Teacher

Abi Carver is deeply passionate about sharing the practices and philosophy of yoga. She has completed two 200-Hr Yoga Alliance Teacher Training, is a NASM Qualified Personal Trainer, and lives wherever the winds take her. Her video series, Yoga 15, clarifies and simplifies ancient yogic techniques to make the practice accessible to a new audience of men and women, constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of themselves and those around them. She believes that yoga is one of the most powerful tools to ease the physical aches and pains we encounter in modern life and bring us into a state of calm, clarity and creativity. Follow her on Instagram for yoga tips, inspiration and motivation.