Good Balance – Good Health
Having good balance can be a predictor of how healthy you are and how long you will live. Not only because good balance can prevent falling injuries, but surprisingly, it can also improve cognitive functions. Poor balance can foretell Dementia and has been linked cognitive decline.
Practicing physical exercises that improve balance—such as yoga or Tai Chi—could reduce the risk of dementia as you age. – Psychology today
People with almost any fitness level can improve their balance. You can practice balance by standing on one leg as you brush your teeth or watch TV. Tree Pose in yoga is another excellent exercise to train your balance.
Start with your leg turned out to the side. Place your foot on the inside of the ankle, calf or thigh. As you hold the pose, keep your core engaged and draw your shoulder blades together while keeping your ribs tucked. hold you gaze on a spot in front of you. And don’t forget to smile! For a challenge, see if you can hold the pose with your eyes closed.
Once you have mastered Tree, try these other challenging yoga asanas.
Half Moon Pose
This yoga pose will improve balance and coordination. It strengthens your legs, core and buttocks while stretching the hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. I like approaching half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana) from pyramid pose because my hands are already securely on the ground but you can also flow from triangle, side angle or warrior 2 for a challenge.
How to execute Half Moon Pose:
- Forward fold into a pyramid pose with your left leg forward, right leg back. Enjoy this pose for a few breaths. When you are ready, bend your front knee and place both hands on the floor.
- Walk both hands forward about a foot, (similar to a runners lunge position) as you straighten your left leg, lift your right leg to hip height keeping it in line with your torso.
- Open your right top hip to the sky as you flex your right foot and lengthen and energize you leg. Feel energy extend out the heel of your foot.
- If you feel stable place the right hand on your hip as you open your body to the side.
- Next, you can take the arm all the way up vertically. Continue to open the body as you lift your gaze to your top hand.
- Hold your gaze and breathe slowly and deeply for 5 – 6 breaths.
Placing a block under your bottom hand could help provide better stability in this pose.
Half Moon Pose into Sugarcane Pose
If you are comfortable with your balancing half moon pose, it’s time to try Ardha Chandra Chapasana or the Sugarcane Pose. This asana is a powerful heart and hip opener that combines a half-moon pose with a backbend.
This balancing yoga pose will tone and stretch your hips, hamstrings and quadriceps while working on the muscles of your lower back. It also tones your abdominal muscles and improves your balance, flexibility and co-ordination.
How to perform this vinyasa:
- From half moon pose, keep your left hand firmly planted on the floor and keep your right leg lifted in the air for a few breaths. Hold this position as you focus on your breath.
- Next, bend your right leg inwards and with your right hand, reach for the top of your right foot. If you can’t find your foot, bring your knee forward a little.
- When you are stable, try to pull your right foot inwards towards your body and upwards. This will deepen the posture and give you a deeper stretch. Keeping your gaze steady for better balance in the pose.
- Hold for 4 or 5 deep breaths before releasing back to the half moon pose. Slowly bring your foot back to the floor and perform it on the other side.
Caution! Practice these more difficult yoga balances with a spotter or against a wall. Always consult your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen. Enjoy!
Living to 100
Talking about longevity, my amazing mother in law turned 100 years this month. I credit her knowledge and application of healthy eating and exercise to her long life. She has a Masters degree in Holistic Health. Shirley says, it’s her kindness, good will and friendliness that gives her longevity. It all matters, body, mind and spirit.
Shirley is still walking on her own without a cane. She’s an incredible lady! We couldn’t have the big party we planned for her because of COVID-19 but we were grateful to be able to have big festive drive by and a small family celebration outside. Congratulations and happy birthday, Shirley!
Best in health, Linda
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6