How to Improve Your Balance and Feel Steady as a Rock

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Does this sound like you?…

You watch your yoga instructor or personal trainer do some crazy balance pose or exercise and think, ‘How in the world?! I’ll never be able to do that.’

YOU’RE WRONG.

Everyone can improve their balance if they work on it!  It’s true that balance gets more challenging as you age, but know that with practice you will still see great improvements no matter your age.

The science behind good balance:

Maintaining proper balance requires the coordination of 3 sensory systems: Vestibular, Somatosensory, and Visual.

So, here’s how to improve your balance so you can feel like a bada** in your next class or training session (or show off at your next party).

  • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
    • I know this one is boring, boring, boring, but it’s the most important, so I want to mention it first.  The more you practice, the better you’ll get.  This means go to your yoga classes, ask your trainer to do more balance exercises, and get into a mindset of thinking of fun ways to work on balance in your every day life.
    • Going by a park?  balance on the playground equipment or on the benches.
    • Running errands? Walk on the curb wherever you can.
    • Cooking? Strike a yoga pose while waiting for the water to boil.  You get the idea 🙂
  • Optimize your Vestibular system 
    • Avoid loud music and loud sounds.  Wear ear plugs when needed.
    • Stand on one leg when you can and look for something to balance on everywhere you go (as mentioned above).
    • Go barefoot as much as possible.
  • Optimize your Somatosensory system
    • Stand on unstable surfaces such as a Bosu, pillow, trampoline, or seesaw.
    • Stand on one leg on a raised height (think that curb or bench we talked about earlier or your stairs).
    • Move on one leg while completing exercises such as kickboxing or transitioning from one yoga pose to another.  For example, Tree pose to Dancer pose.
  • Optimize your Visual system 
    • Hold an unmoving focal point, or drishti, preferably at your eye line as you balance.
    • Give your eyes frequent breaks if you use a computer or smartphone often.
    • Play a sport that requires eye-tracking such as tennis, baseball, ping pong, basketball, etc.
    • Get enough sleep at night, ideally 7-8 hours.
  • Eat Healthy
    • Eating healthy will help to keep your body feeling young and flexible instead of stiff and achy.
    • Make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins, especially folate.  The best sources of folate are romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and beets.  So, make sure to EAT YOUR GREENS.

Now get out there and improve that balance!  Make it fun – play games with your kids, see who can balance the longest. I give you full permission to be silly and act like a kid again.  Who doesn’t want to feel that child-like energy again?!  Now you have a real excuse to have fun 😉

*Some information obtained from Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield

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