Dancer Pose (Natarajasana) with chair for balance and stability

Preventing Falls: 5 Beginner Friendly Balance Poses

Beverly Davis-Baird MA, C-IAYT
Updated: 
January 15, 2022

Balancing becomes harder as we get older. Along with this come the fear of falling and an increased risk for osteoporotic fractures. That is why it is important to incorporate balancing poses into your fitness routine. Balancing poses train your body 
 
While we know we need to practice balancing exercises regularly, balancing can be hard work. Our ability to balance changes daily based on many different external and internal shifts. For example, weak ankles or injuries can negatively affect balance. So can stress, fatigue, agitated breathing, and being distracted. Fortunately, balance, like any skill, improves with practice.

5 Beginner-Friendly Balance Poses 

Here are five beginner-friendly balance poses you can practice daily. Each one includes suggestions for more support as well as how to challenge yourself as your balance improves. If you feel unsteady, use a wall or the back of a chair for additional support. Start with short holding times in each pose (20 to 30 seconds) and gradually increase to a minute or two.
 
1. Balancing Mountain Pose (Tadasana) 

Mountain Pose with arms overhead variation.Mountain Pose or Tadasana is a foundational yoga pose as well as a balance poseBalancing Mountain Pose stretches and strengthens the arches of your feet, ankles, and legs, giving you a strong foundation.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Relax your arms at your sides with your palms facing forward. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Engage the low belly as you lift your chest. This is Mountain Pose, the starting position for this pose, and the others that follow.

  2. Maintaining this position, inhale as you push into the floor with your toes, and lift both heels as high as possible. Find a visual focal point to help you balance. Exhale to lower your heel back down. 

  3. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then stay with the heels lifted for 3 to 5 breaths.

  4. Need more support? Rest your hands on your waist or hold onto the back of a chair or wall. Don’t lift your heels as high. 

  5. Take it up a notch: Lift your arms up our to the side or up toward the ceiling as you lift your heels.

2. Tightrope Stance 

Tightrope stance is a well known balancing practice.In this pose, you balance on both feet like you were balancing on a tightrope. Be sure to find a Drishti, or gazing point to help you balance.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel, letting your arms relax at your sides with palms facing forward. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Engage the low belly as you lift your chest. Find a focal point on the wall in front of you.

  2. Place your right heel directly in front of your left toes, so the heel just grazes the toes. 

  3. Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat with the left foot in front of the right.

  4. Need more support? Hold onto the back of a chair or lightly rest one hand on a wall.

  5. Take it up a notch: Lift your arms higher or come onto the balls of your feet with your heels slightly elevated.

3. Balancing Star 

Balancing Star Pose with the gaze moving from straight ahead to the ceilingBalancing Star is a begonner friendly balance pose shown here with practitioner using a chair for extra support if needed.Creating this standing star shape not only works on balance, but also strengthens your legs, butt, and core.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel, hands on the hips. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Engage the low belly as you lift your chest.

  2. Step your right leg out wide to the side, placing only your toes on the floor for balance to start. Next, flex your right foot as you lift your leg out to the side, allowing your upper body to tilt slightly to the left. 

  3. Open your arms wide with palms facing forward to make a star shape with your body. Find a focal point to help you balance. 

  4. Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

  5. Need more support? Hold the back of a chair or keep the toes of the extended leg on the floor.

  6. Take it up a notch: Look up toward your hand on the same side as your lifted leg.

4. Knee to Chest 

Knee to Chest Pose with hands spread wide is a challenging variation of this balance pose.Knee to Chest is a balancing pose also sometimes called Balancing Tadasana.This pose helps strengthen your legs, hips, and core as you find stability.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel, hands on the hips. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Engage the low belly as you lift your chest.

  2. Shift your weight into your right leg and lift your left knee to hip height so your upper leg is parallel with the floor. Flex your left foot as you balance on your right leg, keeping your hands on your hips. Maintain a steady gaze at a focal point. 

  3. Hold here for 3 to 5 breaths before releasing your foot to the floor and repeating on the opposite side.

  4. Need more support? Practice the pose sitting in a chair. Keep your spine long and both feet on the floor. Rest your hands on your hips and engage your low belly muscles. Inhale to lift your foot.

  5. Take it up a notch: Draw your knee closer to your chest, using your hands and arms to gently pull it up or reach your arms out to the sides.

5. Baby Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)

Dancer's Pose or Natarajasana is shown in a variation with one arm raised high.Dancer's Pose or Natarajasana is shown in a basic variation.This pose strengthens your lower body, upper back, and core, while also stretching your hip flexors.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel, hands on the hips. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Engage the low belly as you lift your chest.

  2. Bend your right knee so that your flexed foot lifts behind you, keeping your thighs parallel. Keep your right hand on your hip, and lift your left arm up until your upper arm is in line with your ear. 

  3. Keep a steady gaze at your focal point as you stay here for 3 to 5 breaths. Lower your arm and then your foot to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.

  4. Need more support? Hold the back of a chair or a wall with your lower hand.

  5. Take it up a notch: Start to tip your torso forward, keeping your spine long and belly engaged.

Aim to spend 5 to 10 minutes daily practicing these beginner-friendly balance poses at least three to four times a week. The more consistent your practice, the greater the benefit. Then notice how, day by day, you are becoming more confident in your ability to balance. Be well!

 

Baxter Bell MD, IAYT, yoga teacher, YogaUOnline presenter, Yoga for Covid Long Haulers

 

Reprinted with permission from Wisdom Tree Yoga.

Beverly Davis-Baird, Wisdom Tree Yoga, Yoga Therapist and 6 reasons to practice yoga for arthritis

Beverly Davis-Baird, MA, C-IAYT is a New Jersey-based yoga therapist, writer, and educator. She specializes in making yoga accessible for adults 50+, offering classes and workshops for back care, arthritis, bone health, balance, posture, and healthy aging. An educator at heart with over 20 years of experience as a public school teacher, Beverly brings her knowledge of individual learning styles to her classes, providing instruction that is clear, concise, inclusive, and compassionate. Bringing over 30 years of experience and training, she considers herself a lifelong learner and believes that the practice of yoga should bring spaciousness and release from tension, not create it. As such, she strives to make yoga accessible to people of differing abilities, believing the real benefits of yoga come from what is taken with you outside of class and into your life. To read her blog or learn more about her teaching schedule and latest offerings, please visit www.wisdomtreeyoga.com.