In addition to strength, breathing, and flexibility, one of the most important elements of yoga is balance.
In yoga, balance can be defined as the coordination of mind and body to evenly distribute one’s body weight in space. This is done to create different asanas, also known as yoga poses or postures, which offer us various benefits.
Yoga balance poses can be performed on the feet, arms, hands, and even the head. These vary in difficulty, with some poses requiring not just balance, but strength, proprioception, breathing control, and flexibility.
Whether you are a beginner or not, there are many yoga balance poses that you can learn even if you are just starting out.
What are the Benefits of Yoga Balance Poses?
Both learning and performing yoga balance poses come with a number of benefits. These are:
- building strength
- increasing flexibility
- learning proprioception
- improving balance
These are the main benefits. However, other benefits include improving general fitness and athleticism, weight loss, posture alignment, and breathing control.
Through yoga balance poses, you will also strengthen your joints, ligaments, and tendons, and even reduce, and prevent, risk of injury as well as conditions such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.
How to Do Yoga Balance Poses
Here is a list of ten popular yoga balance poses, performed in all styles of yoga – including hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, ashtanga yoga, kundalini yoga, iyengar yoga, and yin yoga.
These yoga poses progress from easiest to hardest, including the individual benefits of each pose and how to do them.
Tree pose is a common asana that is one of the most easily recognizable yoga poses. It’s a beginner pose performed standing, requiring little balance. It teaches alignment, posture, and breathing technique.
To get into tree pose, stand tall (mountain pose), relax your shoulders, and bring your palms together, while breathing out. Slowly begin to raise one leg, shifting your balance onto your standing leg, before placing the sole of your foot on the inside of your thigh.
Boat pose is a seated yoga pose that improves core strength and stability. It involves sitting, leaning back, and lifting the legs while engaging all the abdominal muscles. As boat pose strengthens the core, this can help transfer to a wide range of yoga poses.
To get into boat pose, find a comfortable seated position on the floor, with your legs placed in front of you. Lean back slowly and begin to lift your legs to create a V shape. Extend your arms in front of you. To keep your balance, make sure to actively engage your core.
Eagle pose is similar to tree pose, but slightly more difficult. It requires extra technique, strength, and balance to get into the asana, involving you to cross both the arms and legs, while balancing on one foot.
To get into eagle pose, start in mountain pose. Bend one knee slightly and begin to cross your leg over the bent leg, activating your core for balance. Intertwine your arms, putting one on top of the other. Your shoulders and hips should be aligned with your balancing foot.
Crow pose is an intermediate arm balancing yoga pose. Crow pose requires both balance and strength, specifically core strength and shoulder strength. It is widely considered the first stepping stone to other intermediate and advanced yoga arm balance poses.
To get into crow pose, begin in a resting squat position. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, with your knees touching your triceps. Bend your arms and begin to lean forwards, shifting your weight onto your palms, until your feet lift off the floor.
Crane pose is a harder version of crow pose. Although it is still considered an intermediate yoga pose, crane pose proves to be more difficult as it involves performing a crow pose with straight arms. This requires leaning further forwards, using more strength and balance.
To get into crane pose, begin in a resting squat position. Similar to crow pose, place your hands on the floor with your knees touching your triceps. Lean forwards, shifting your weight onto your palms, but maintain straight, locked-out arms as your feet lift off the floor.
The headstand is an advanced yoga pose, requiring strength, balance, and proprioception. It is an inverted yoga pose, or yoga inversion, which can be used as a stepping stone to achieving the handstand. The easiest version of this pose is performed on the forearms.
For newcomers, it is best to learn the headstand in front of a wall. To get into a headstand, get on your knees, then place your forearms and the crown of your head on the floor. Once comfortable, kick your legs up, stacking your hips and feet above your shoulders.
Handstands require patience and attention to detail, often taking months, or longer than a year, to achieve. It involves shoulder strength, core strength, proprioception, and breathing control. Before achieving a freestanding handstand, it is first learned against the wall.
To get into a handstand, place your palms on the floor, with your shoulders positioned directly above. Kick up, stacking your hips and feet over your shoulders and palms. To balance, engage every muscle, while shifting your weight between your fingertips and palms.
Scorpion pose is an advanced arm balancing asana that requires great flexibility in the lower back to achieve. For this reason, it is one of the most impressive yoga balance poses, often taking years to achieve.
To get into scorpion pose, get onto your knees and place your forearms on the floor, bent at the elbows. Kick both legs up, shifting your body weight onto your forearms, bringing your feet over your head, with your hips stacked on top of your shoulders.
Peacock pose is an advanced yoga balancing asana that requires significant strength in the shoulders, wrists, core, and glutes. It involves balancing in a horizontal position on one’s palms, with the legs lifted completely off the floor.
To get into peacock pose, begin in a push-up position. Place your hands on the floor close together and tuck your elbows. Begin to lean forwards, placing your stomach on top of your elbows. With your hands close to your hips, lift your feet by engaging your core and glutes.
Yoga balance poses are common in many styles of yoga, improving strength, flexibility, breathing control, posture, and general balance. Not only are they beneficial to physical health, but yoga balance poses are both fun and rewarding to learn and achieve.
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