The second most common reason I hear people say they can’t take part in a yoga class is…..”I can’t balance.” My response….. that is the second most important reason why you should begin a yoga practice. Our ability to balance peeks at the age of 25 years, and then slowly diminishes as we age. Signs of losing balance may not appear until around the age of 40. My mother always told me that things begin going down hill after 25…..I guess in some ways she is right.
The good news is we can keep pushing our way up that hill with a little knowledge and practice. It’s most important that we work towards keeping our balance. Having balance can translate into better posture, improved sense of self, reduced risk of falling, and maintaining independence in our later stages of life. Keys to improving balance requires attention on 4 parts of the body: the feet, the thighs, the core (stomach muscles), and lastly the brain. Espouse a true belief that your balance can improve. If you keep thinking you have bad balance…..guess what? You’ll keep having bad balance! What we believe usually correlates with what we experience in our lives. It’s time to change our thinking.
I will share with you some simple exercises during this month that you can begin now to help improve your balance. We’ll first begin with the feet. You will need a towel; hand-size towel will work fine, and a stable chair. Let’s get to work!
Foot Exercise: Towel Scrunch
Begin seated in your chair. Lay the towel out flat in front of you with the short edge of your towel facing your toes. Move forward bringing your sitting bones to the edge of the chair. The feet face forward, while the legs make a 90 degree angle by stacking knee over ankle. Draw the bellybutton to the spine, as you move your shoulders over hips.
Pick up your right toes while the heel of the foot maintains contact with the floor. Try to spread the toes. Place them on the edge of the towel, and with your toes alone; heel of foot rooted, begin to scrunch/gather the towel towards you. Repeat the action of extending the toes to gather the towel, and contracting the toes to pull the towel towards you.
Once you have gathered all of the towel begin the opposite action of pushing the towel away with the toes alone. While you are working with the foot try to maintain body awareness, and don’t forget to breathe. Once it becomes more easy to perform this exercise increase your repetitions. Gathering the towel towards you, then pushing the towel away from you is one set. Eventually, work your way towards 3-5 sets with each foot.
As you perform this exercise know, and believe that you’re working your way towards better balance. This exercise can be done every evening while you’re watching your favorite shows. Have fun with it. Set a goal and challenge yourself. Get your family involved……who can scrunch the towel the fastest? Most importantly, remember that the smallest steps lead to the greatest results.
Check back this month for more exercises to help you improve your balance.
To Read Part 2 Click Here