Balance is good for more than just your yoga practice. It’s essential for aging gracefully as well as avoiding trips, stumbles and falls. So, how do you know if your balance is steady (pun intended)? Take this balance quiz from Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent, the authors of Fitness for Dummies and then work on improving your balance with their 4 balance exercises.
Testing Your Balance
Stand in front of a stable chair (in case you need to catch yourself) with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Then do these 4 tests:
1. Lift your right foot off the floor, a few inches in front of you. Hold it for 10 seconds before switching feet. Notice any difference between your legs and any wobbling.
2. Repeat #1 with your eyes closed.
3. Lift your right foot and place the sole of your foot on the inside of your left calf (toes pointing down) so your knee is out to the side. Raise your arms overhead and press your palms together. Hold for 10 seconds before trying on the other side. Notice how much you wobble, step out of the position or adjust your position.
4. Lean forward slightly and lift your right foot behind you (about 6 inches off the ground). Keep your back and right left straight. Soften your left knee slightly and hold it for 10 seconds. Again, notice how stable you feel.
Improving Your Balance
If you can do all 4 easily, great job! If not, improve your balance with these moves!
Sit To Stand. This one if fairly self explanatory, but stand in front on a stable seat and sit down slowly before standing back up (try not to use your hands or momentum). Ready to make it harder? Use an overstuffed chair or, for the really advanced, a chair on wheels!
Hopping. Stand tall, lift your right foot off the floor by bending your knee and hop to the right. Land as softly as possible then switch sides and repeat.
Balance Beam Walk. Tape 6-12 feet of tape on the floor in a straight line and walk along it at steadily as possible. If you fall off the line, start over.
Pick Ups. Place a few pieces of crumbled paper on the floor. Stand 3 feet behind the pile. Lift your right leg behind you, keeping it slightly bent, as you slowly tip forward and down to pick up one piece of paper. Put your right hand on your hip and keep your abs tight. Repeat until all pieces are picked up before repeating on the left.