One Exercise to Improve Your Balance

Falls become an important health risk factor as we age. But by doing one exercise per day, you can improve your balance to prevent falls.

Statistics show that falls are one of the most prevalent and preventable injuries. Among the aged falls can contribute to convalescence and lead to further risks. My father, at age 88, for example, has fallen twice in the last three weeks.  Not only did he bruise himself badly but the scrapes became infected. In both instances, he fell because we was picking something up from the floor.

Dad fell because of two factors. He lost his balance and had insufficient strength to hold himself up. This is a fairly common condition.

But it does not have to be this way. One simple yoga exercise improves both your balance and increases your strength.

Chair pose is a basic yoga exercise. Properly and safely executed it will strengthen your legs, lower back and abs. It also is a great balance pose.

Utkatasana
Utkatasana (Photo credit: yogamama.co.uk)

Here is how to do it.

  1. Start from a comfortable standing position
  2. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart with feet parallel to each other
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles slightly to support your spine
  4. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, with your palms facing each other
  5. Bend the knees and gently push your pelvis down as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair
  6. Sink deeper into the chair by gradually going down but ensure that your knees don’t go beyond your toes
  7. Check that you are not sticking your butt out. Tuck your tailbone in towards your heels
  8. Stay there for 5-10 breaths depending on how comfortable you feel
  9. Stand straight up and brings your arms back to your side

There is a great short video on the Yoga Journal site that demonstrates how to perform chair pose.

If you do this on a daily basis you will quickly notice the results. You can increase the challenge of chair pose by holding it longer or clasping some weights in your hands. It is not advisable to sink deeper in the pose where your knees go beyond a 90 degree angle.

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