Yoga for Men - Reason 2 - Balance

 

Balance is an aspect of fitness far too many people, and men especially, neglect.

We can’t improve it by pumping iron, or pounding the pavement, but balance and proprioception (the perception of movement and spatial orientation within the body itself) is as fundamental to our health and fitness as developing muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Think of a sportsperson you admire.  A footballer or rugby player running down the pitch, a tennis player twisting to strike a return, a boxer bobbing and weaving, even a golfer flowing through their swing.  All great sportspeople have great balance. 

In fact, any graceful, efficient movement relies on our balance and our perception of our own movement in space.

Like other aspects of our fitness balance can be greatly enhanced by training and practice, but conversely without work it can diminish as we age.  In older adults, this reduction in the ability to balance can lead to falls, and serious life changing consequences.

 
 Muhammed Ali shows off his phenomenal balance

Muhammed Ali shows off his phenomenal balance


 

Yoga and Balance Training

 David practising Balance in the "Ardha Candrasana" or Half Moon Pose

David practising Balance in the "Ardha Candrasana" or Half Moon Pose

 

In Yoga we train balance and a variety of ways.  We build proprioception by holding poses (asanas) while being mindful and conscious of our body, we build strength and stability in the connective tissue of the body, training the stabiliser muscles, and reinforcing positive movement patterns. Plus, unlike most exercise systems, Yoga includes specific balancing poses that directly challenge and improve the ability to balance.

One final point.  My students have commented to me, and this is something that I’ve read about from other yoga teachers, that practising balance postures to improves their self-confidence, and even that doing balances seems to make them happy. 

My personal opinion is that this is linked to the sense of achievement that people find with these poses.  Often when people try a balance for the first time they find it extremely difficult, but with only a little practice they learn not only to steady themselves physically but also to produce the mental calmness that is needed to hold the balance.

Somewhere in there is a good metaphor for life.

Science

Effect of a 12-Week Yoga Intervention on Fear of Falling and Balance in Older Adults

A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Enhanced Balance Training Program to Improve Mobility and Reduce Falls in Elderly Patients

Related Articles

Reason 1 - Integrated Functional Strength

Reason 2 - Balance

Reason 3 - Flexibility

Reason 4 - Mental Health

Reason 5 - Improved Sexual Functioning