Start the Year in Balance!

There is a lot you can do to keep yourself in balance. If you use a few minutes each day to do the simple yoga poses and exercises described below, you can avoid a fall and keep your mind and body healthy.

1. Warrior 1 pose

Warrior 1

 This exercise – referred to as a “pose” in yoga parlance – improves balance as it strengthens both legs, helps build knee muscles, stretches the shoulders, and improves hip alignment.

• From a standing position raise your upper body stretching the arms above your head. Your hands should be shoulder width apart.
• Your chest should face forward. Place your left foot back behind you enough so that you have to bend the knee on your right leg.
• Pull your navel up and back to engage your lower core abdominal muscles. This will reduce pressure on your lower back.
• Your pose should look like the one in the photos above. Hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. If you lose your balance, go back to the beginning and try again.
• Reverse the pose by placing your right foot in back.
• As you become more comfortable with the pose, increase your hold time.

2. Warrior 2 pose

Warrior 2

This pose improves balance as it strengthens both legs, helps build knee muscles, stretches the shoulders, and strengthens the arms. It also enhances groin flexibility, which is good news for runners and skiers.

• Stand straight with your arms at your sides and feet shoulder width apart, then step your left foot back about 4 feet.
• Turn your left foot out and rotate your torso to the left to square your hips. Keep your shoulders over the center of your body.
• Keep your right foot pointing outward and look straight ahead.
• Bend your right knee over your ankle until your thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.
• Raise your left arm behind you to shoulder height, palm up.
• Hold your right arm at shoulder height over your right knee, palm down.
• Your pose should look like the one in the photos above (which ever one you are most comfortable with). Hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. If you lose your balance, go back to the beginning and try again.
• Reverse the pose by starting with your right foot in back.
• As you become more comfortable with the pose, increase your hold time.

3. Chair pose with leg raise

Chair Pose

This pose tones and strengthens your arms and shoulders while improving strength, balance, and stability.
• With your knees and feet together, squat down several inches, as if you were going to sit in a chair.
• Raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other (see photo above).
• While in the chair position, raise your right knee up so that your foot is an inch or more off the floor.
• Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat by raising your left knee. Increase your holding time as you gain comfort with the pose.

4. Tree Pose

Tree Pose

This pose exercises your mind as well as improves balance.
• In a standing position raise one leg off the floor
• Bend your knee and place your foot on the inside of your thigh. If having your foot inside your thigh is too uncomfortable bring it further down and outside your thigh as seen in the picture above.
• Rotate your leg out until your knee and bent leg are sideways.
• Place your hands above your head with your palms together in a prayer position.
• Bend your arms slightly.
• Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, and increase the time as you get more comfortable.

5. V-hold

VHold Pose/Exercise

This pose strengthens your abs while boosting balance.
• Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
• Hold on to the back of your thighs.
• Tightening your abs and shifting your weight back onto your sit bones, lift your feet 5-10 inches off the floor until your calves are parallel to the floor.
• Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, and increase the time as you get more comfortable.


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