These exercises will give you a good idea of how your balance and stability is at this moment. Watch the free video below for full instructions and extra balance tips from Esther. Make a note of how you find each of the exercises and any variations you make. Try these before and after the 30/30 Yoga Challenge to see your progress.
As with the core strength self-test video, the idea is not that you can already do every exercise perfectly, rather that you can use these to see what a difference the 30 days of yoga has made to you! If you are already steady as a rock add extra challenges like closing your eyes or holding the poses for longer.
Balance poses strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles in the body. They train your mind too as you’ll find them easier when your mind is focused and clearer – not easy!
Stability work becomes increasingly important as we get older. Keeping up a yoga practice which includes balance poses will help maintain your posture, confidence and prevent falls and injuries. So even if you are not following the 30/30 Yoga Challenge these are still good exercises to come back to from time to time.
1. Balancing Table
Starting in a stable all-fours position, lift your arm out in front of you and then your opposite leg. You can either extend them out parallel with the floor, or you can reach back and take your foot or ankle with your hand coming into a Bow Pose variation. In either variation draw in your lower belly to protect your back and to help with your stability. Hold for up to 2 minutes – if 2 minutes is easy repeat it with your eyes closed.
2. Balancing Urdhva Hastasana
Starting in Tadasana, inhale raise the arms and then lift up onto the toes. Stay here for a breath. Exhale and lower your heels back. Repeat this a couple of times before holding the lift for a few breaths. For an extra challenge you can look up, either just with your eyes or raise your chin (keep the back of the neck long and relaxed). This exercise keeps your feet healthy and strengthens your ankles as well as your core.
Watch the video for Esther’s extra tips on using the breath to direct your energy. This will keep you grounded and help your balance.
3. Tree Pose variations
Like the previous exercise, Tree Pose strengthens your feet and ankles. One-legged standing balances are also really good for observing differences between your right and left sides. In the video we practise different options so everyone can try this. Make a note of which variation(s) you tried and how long you could hold the pose for. You can use a chair, wall or friend for support if needed.
We practise Tree Pose with the palms together and with raised arms. Then we add an extra challenge by looking up or by closing your eyes.
Don’t forget to keep some quick notes so that you can compare this at the end of the challenge. Read more about the 30/30 Yoga Challenge.