One of UFC fighter Conor McGregor’s strongest attributes is his balance. Here is how you can use yoga to improve your balance.
Everyone needs to have strong balance, but the sedentary life of many people makes good balance an increasingly rare quality. I remember two individuals in my martial arts class, men in the prime of their lives, who were not able to balance on one foot for more than a few seconds without collapsing. They might be able to memorize a form, but they’ll never be able to defend themselves unless they work on their balance.
I’ve noticed it in women as well–even high school or college age girls. There is often something very awkward about their gait. These women are prone to falls. One co-worker fell down and did a face plant while walking on a smooth, dry New York city sidewalk.
But good balance is not necessarily something you are born with. Like most other attributes, you can improve your balance through training. And you will not need to dedicate hours to training. A few minutes every day will give you superior balance.
One of the best ways of improving your balance is the method preferred by Conor McGregor himself–yoga.
Here is a yoga routine that you can do every day.
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
From mountain pose (standing up straight, looking forward, feet together), simply lift on leg up and place it on the inside of your other leg.
Advanced yoga practitioners can lift the heel of the raised leg almost to their groin area. If you have muscle in your legs, you probably will look more like the guy in the photo above.
Your arms can be in prayer posture (as in the photo) or lifted straight over your head.
At the beginning, hold the pose for 30 seconds and gradually build up to 2 minutes per leg. After you stand on right leg, switch and stand on your left leg.
Tree pose develops the small muscles in your foot that will increase your balance in everyday situations.
Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
From mountain pose, jump your legs to the side a bit wider than shoulder width apart. Bend one knee and keep the other straight. Turn your head (but not your torso) in the direction of your bent knee. Raise your arms.
I like to go lower than the guy in the picture. The top of the front leg should be closer to being parallel to the floor.
Start holding the pose for about 30 seconds on each side and build up to 2 minutes on each side.
Warrior II improves your balance by strengthening your leg muscles. Since your entire body is a single plane, it is a little awkward.
It also prepares you for the next pose, which is a big more challenging when it comes to balance.
Half Moon Pose (Arda Chandrasana)
This is a more advanced move, but it is worth it because it really trains your body to balance in an very awkward position.
From a standing position, raise one leg in the air as you reach toward the ground with the opposite hand. Fingers should lightly touch the floor.
Half moon pose works by strengthening and stretching the leg. It also strengthens the torso. This is my favorite exercise of the bunch.
Start at holding the pose for 30 seconds on each leg, and gradually work up to 2 minutes per leg.
By the way, I’ve provided very short descriptions of these poses. If you’ve never taken yoga before, you will need a fuller description before trying these poses. I recommend that you check out http://www.yogajournal.com, which has photos and descriptions of each pose.
That’s the entire routine. It should only take you 12 minutes a day, but it will pay off with noticeable benefits.
Most yoga practitioners would finish any yoga session by laying in corpse pose for several minutes to relax the body. Personally, I don’t bother. I want to maximize my workout time and my goal is to have good balance, not to be a yogi.
What are your favorite exercises to improve balance?
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