Balance and stability are intrinsically linked with yoga but also the majority of other forms of exercise and sport. Not only that but it’s essential for everyday life, try carrying bags of groceries or reaching for an item on a tall shelf without either of the above or kicking a ball or lifting weights, believe me it’s difficult!
Balance is your ability to control your body without movement against gravity.
Stability is your ability to control your body during movement
We’ve all been that person who wobbles in a yoga pose, or falls over unintentionally and that’s normal, all is not lost! Yoga can help with this and by incorporating poses that focus on both areas we can actually train the parts of our bodies that help us stay upright and grounded in a desired position.
So to get a little bit scientific, there are three main systems responsible for helping the body balance: visual, vestibular (inner ear), and somatosensory.
Visual: Eyesight helps us orient ourselves.
Vestibular: Nerves in the inner ear tell the brain where the head is, allowing us to adjust and stabilize our bodies.
Somatosensory: Physical feelings spark perceptions of where we are in space, so we can realign ourselves as needed.
Basically the nervous system integrates the information offered by each of the visual, vestibular, and somasensory systems and then sends that data to your brain to interpret as you work through a shape or movement.
Two types of balance:
1. Static Balance
This is our capability to stay upright with good posture (e.g in Tree Pose). Proprioception is the ability to know where your body parts are in three-dimensional space and plays a huge role in staying upright. Our body is covered with sensory receptors, especially in muscles and around the joints and these continually send messages to the brain about the body’s position. By moving through various poses and challenging ourselves these sensors become more acute and responsive.
2. Dynamic balance
Maintaining balance during movement such as walking or cycling a bike comes into play when we flow through a Sun Salutation or transition from Mountain Pose to a demanding pose like Warrior III. One-legged balance poses offer fewer touch points (less somatic input), so your visual and vestibular systems compensate to steady you. This moving form of balance is crucial because most falls happen during transitions, rapid movements, or changes in direction. Since life is always in motion, yoga provides an opportunity to practice adapting to change and building resilience.
For every sport, fitness related exercise or everyday life activity we need a good combination of balance and stability and without them we won’t be able to perform to the best of our ability. It’s becomes increasingly important the older we get so maybe think about how you could improve these whether it’s a yoga class or just standing on one leg while waiting for the kettle to boil.
If you want to work on any of the above, Yoga for Muscle Recovery is on the schedule in Leeson St on Tuesdays @ 13.30 (45 mins) and Saturdays @ 09.3o & 10.30 (45mins) and is part of your membership.
My classes combine dynamic yoga flow (vinyasa style) and mobility exercises as it's all about feeling good and moving with intent and control.
It's great for active recovery especially if you just can't face another Metcon or strength session!
Each Wednesday, I will take an in-depth look into one of the benefits above and give you no nonsense, easy to understand information around it.