Balance is key for proper technique and strength building, and developing a greater balance will allow you to have a more fulfilling yoga workout. Here five balance yoga poses, listed in order of increasing intensity.
Balance Yoga Poses for Beginners
Tree Pose (Vrksasana): Tree Pose is a common favorite among many yoga enthusiasts. It’s a simple way to improve your balance without tiring out your legs. While initially challenging, once mastered, Tree Pose offers a truly centering and calming experience. To form the pose, stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Bend your right knee into your chest, then, keeping it bent, turn it out to the right side. Place your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. Inhale, raising your arms above your head, and then exhale, lowering them out to the sides. To come out of the pose, you can either return to standing or lean forward into Warrior 3, described below. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III): This is a wonderful pose for increasing balance and stabilizing the legs. From Tree Pose, inhale, stretch your arms up over your head, and bring your knee in front of you, keeping it bent. As you exhale, press your palms together in front of your heart and take your bent knee under your body and extend it out behind you. Keep the back leg active and flex the foot. You can take your arms and stretch them out in front of you, out to the sides, or back along the sides of your body, whichever is the most comfortable for you. Eagle Pose (Garudasana): Eagle Pose strengthens the quadriceps and provides a nice twist for the legs and arms, and it is one of the best balance yoga poses for increasing leg strength. Start by standing tall with your feet together, then cross your left leg over your right, bending the knee to press the left foot into the back of the right calf. Bend the right leg and stretch your arms over your head. Next, lower your arms on an exhale and bend them to make a 90-degree angle. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor in front of your body. Take your right elbow and place it inside the crook of your left arm. Then face the palms toward each other and press them together as you sink deeper into the pose. Repeat the pose for the other side.
Intermediate Balance Yoga Poses
Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana): This balance pose is a little trickier than Warrior 3, as it involves twisting the body and reaching one hand toward the floor. You can enter this pose from Triangle Pose or from Mountain Pose. Place your left hand on the ground, take your right hand to your hip, and lift your right leg into the air parallel to the floor. When you feel steady, extend your right arm into the air, perpendicular to the floor. Repeat on the other side. Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana): This pose is a great way to increase flexibility in addition to balance. Commonly known as a “bridge” pose in gymnastics, it is probably the riskiest of all of the balance yoga poses in this article, so be careful and don’t push yourself too hard. Start by lying down on your back with your arms stretched over your head. Bend your knees and point your toes straight in front of you. Plant your hands near your shoulders and come up onto the crown of your head first. When you feel balanced, push up with your arms into the full Upward Bow Pose. Stay here only for a few moments, then tuck your chin and slowly lower yourself to the ground. Stretch your arms over your head and hug your knees to your chest to neutralize your spine. Shirsasana (Headstand) - Though inversions are challenging at first, this restful pose has a great effect on the body's internal systems. Use a wall and work gradually towards building enough core strength and a sense of balance to stand freely. This pose tones all the internal organs and circulatory system and calms the mind. A great way to start every day.
Don’t push yourself so hard that you risk falling, and always be sure to move slowly and safely. Beginner’s classes can be a great way to learn the correct forms of these balance yoga poses and receive feedback from a trained instructor.