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How Yoga Can Help
As discussed in Part I, falls are a common cause of disability and loss of independence in those over sixty five. Yoga teaches many postures and techniques that can help you to improve your balance and lower your chance of taking a fall. Along with a regular yoga practice, make sure to remove any hazards from your home. Take steps to change situations that put your safety or wellbeing at risk. This article provides instruction in some basic and gentle postures to get you started to improve your balance.
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Keep Yourself Safe
If you find these postures too challenging, start by holding onto a chair or counter for support. Move slowly in and out of the posture. Trying to get into the posture too quickly will just push you off balance. In addition, avoid falling out of postures as this can cause injury. Take your time getting into the posture and only go deeper when you can maintain your balance. You will get better results by holding a less challenging version of a pose than pushing yourself and continually falling out of the posture. The idea is to maintain the posture for a full thirty seconds. You may wobble a bit as your muscles work to hold you. This is OK as long as you do not fall out. If you practice on a regular basis, you will notice your balance getting better and then you can go into a deeper posture. It may be necessary to lightly hold onto a chair or counter at first. Try to use the chair as little as possible and slowly work up to letting go completely.
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Start by standing up straight. Make sure you have equal weight on both feet and that you are not rolling in or out. Think of pushing the crown of the head up to the ceiling, but do not lift your chin. Shift your weight into your left leg. Turn your right leg out and place the sole of the right foot against the inside of the left leg. You can let the toes of the right foot lightly touch the floor if needed. The higher you lift your right foot the harder it is to balance. To start, only lift the right foot as high as you can maintain your balance. To avoid injury, make sure you do not place the right foot directly on the inside of the left knee joint. Raise both arms up overhead into a "V" position with the palms facing each other. If needed you can lightly place the left hand on a chiar or counter. Hold for five to ten deep breaths. Release out slowly and with control. Repeat with the left foot.
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Warrior III Pose
Stand up straight. Reach your right foot back with the right toes touching the floor behind you. Raise your arms up overhead with the palms facing each other. If necessary you can gently rest your left palm on a counter or chair in front of you. Begin to lift the right foot off the floor and let the upper body tip forward just slightly. Be careful to not bend forward at the waist. You only need to tip forward slightly to allow the right foot to lift. The higher you lift the right foot, the harder it is to balance. Again, find an expression of the posture that allows you to stay in the posture without falling out. Hold for five to ten deep breaths. Come out slowly and with control. Repeat with the left leg.
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To really improve your balance, you need to work at it on a regular basis. Just fifteen minutes a day can go along way toward keeping you steady on your feet. Try these postures while watching TV, working in the kitchen or at times when you are standing around the house. Keep in mind that our bodies are different everyday. Some days you will have better balance and other days it may be more challenging. If you are tired, you may find it more difficult to maintain balance. In addition, one side of your body is naturally stronger and can balance better. This is normal but will become more equal with practice. The most important thing is to practice as often as possible.
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Using Yoga to Improve Balance in Seniors Part II
Yoga is no longer just for the young and felxible. It is now a common household term and there are studios and gyms teaching yoga in almost every town and city. While yoga can be very challenging it can also be very gentle. These articles will teach you some yoga basics to help improve your balance