Whether you’re standing, sitting, walking, running, dancing, riding your bike or doing a headstand – having good balance is crucial to our mobility every moment of every day.
And while it’s something many of us take for granted, many things can threaten our balance – age, stress, being tired, attention deficit disorders, dyspraxia and more.
Yoga can help you strengthen this balance – and not just in a physical sense.
Yoga helps to balance our minds as well as our bodies. To achieve physical steadiness in balance demanding poses requires you also to find mental stillness.
So as you master these balancing poses, it’s not only a triumph of the body but also of the mind – teaching you to cultivate emotional steadiness and control the mind as you stabilise your physical centre in demanding positions.
In this article, we’ll delve into the 7 best standing yoga poses and how they will help to improve your balance.
Let’s get into it.
7 best standing yoga poses to improve balance
#1: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
It may look simple, but the importance of mountain pose is not to be underestimated. It forms the foundation for all standing poses and inversions in yoga and mastering will greatly improve your balance.
This is because mountain pose strengthens your legs and your core; improves your posture and body awareness, and helps realign the joints and limbs of the body – all essential developments for good balance.
- Begin by standing tall on a comfortable surface, pressing all four corners of your feet firmly into the ground. Your feet should be hip distance apart and parallel to eachother.
- Activate your thighs and engage your core to stand strong and still, tucking your tailbone under towards your navel to straighten your back.
- Keep your arms straight along the sides of your body, with your shoulders back and down away from your ears and palms facing forward.
- Remain here for a minimum of 3 deep breaths. Focus on elongating your body – pulling the crown of your head up to the sky while pushing the soles of the feet down into the ground a little more on each exhale.
#2: Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
Like mountain pose, tree pose is amongst the most iconic yoga postures – and for good reason.
Tree pose is a true balance tester, teaching you to use concentration, relaxation and breathwork in order to balance on one leg for prolonged periods of time. It’s also fun to practice with another person to help you stabilise!
- Begin standing in mountain pose as described above. Next, move your feet together so that they are aligned and touching, arms still straight at your sides.
- Once you feel stable here, fix and focus your gaze on a point in front of you – perhaps an object, a mark on the wall, a photo etc.
- Next, shift your body weight onto your right leg and start to slowly raise your left foot off the ground.
- Bring your left foot higher so that the sole of your left foot can rest on the inside of your right thigh, toes pointing down. Square your pelvis so that its straight.
- Stretch both arms up high toward the ceiling and move your hands together, palms pressed so that your arms form an upside down v shape above your head.
- Stay here for 3-4 deep breaths if you can. Then release and repeat on other side.
#3: Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Chair pose can be a real thigh burner and helps develop your balance by activating and building strength and flexibility in your hips, thighs, ankles, shoulders.
Over time the squat will also help to align and stabilise your knees while having your arms raised strengthens your core and the muscles between your ribs – improving breathing capacity.
- Beginning standing with feet hip distance apart extend your arms straight in front of you, parallel to the ground and slowly sink into to a seated position.
- Tuck your sit bones under towards your pubic region and stretch your fingertips forward. Your torso should be tilted forward, back straight and knees above but not in front of your toes.
- Sit deeper to intensify the stretch and pause for 3 deep breaths. Then slowly and with control rise back up to standing.
- Repeat this 4 to 5 times.
#4: Half Chair Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)
Also known as ‘figure 4 chair pose’ and ‘one-legged chair pose’, this posture shares many of the benefits of full chair pose as listed above, but with the added challenge of holding the pose whilst balancing on one leg.
This helps strengthen your core, legs and back, while also opening your hips and most importantly balancing your mind. This pose truly takes focus and mental stillness meaning regular practice will improve mindfulness and control over your thoughts.
- Start in chair pose, as described above, taking time to feel stable and grounded here before moving to the next step.
- Your weight should be shifted backwards to your heels and your thighs should be low. Then, bring both hands up to your chest, press palms together to form prayer position.
- Press all four corners of your right foot into the ground to stabilise yourself as you slowly begin to lift your left foot off the floor.
- Keeping your right knee bent, cross your left ankle over your right thigh to rest it just above the knee
- Remain here for in 4-10 deep breaths, then release and repeat on other side.. If you begin losing balance, try focusing your gaze on a fixed point in front of you.
- Note: The lower you sit and the closer you bring your chest to your thighs, the deeper the stretch will be (but remember to keep your back straight!)
#5: Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III)
One of the famous five warrior poses, this posture engages your core, arms and legs to build head to toe strength, stability, good posture and motor skills – all key to developing strong balance.
- Begin in forward lunge with front knee stacked over the front ankle, back leg straight with heel slightly raised off the mat.
- Turn your pelvis forward so your chest and hips are parallel to the front of your mat, then lift both arms above your head.
- Move hands into prayer position, bringing them to your heart. Lean forward so your back leg lifts off the ground and rises parallel to the floor, gaze fixed downward.
- Stretch both arms forward so your body is a “T” shape with chest, back leg and arms parallel to the floor, keeping your standing leg strong and straight (be mindful of your knee and ankle here).
- If you’re finding it hard to balance here, try using a block positioned on the ground directly under your upper chest, to resting one or both hands on while the back leg and chest remain in this “T” shape.
- Stay here for 3-6 deep breaths, then repeat on other side.
#6: Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)
This elegant pose is a true balance challenge – but well worth the practice.
Dancer Pose strengthens your balance by deepening postural awareness (awareness of the alignment of your joints, limbs and so on) while strengthening your core, back, leg and ankle muscles.
- Begin in mountain pose, as in #1. Fix and focus your gaze on a point in front of you – perhaps an object, a mark on the wall, a photo etc.
- Shift your body weight onto your left foot, then bend your right knee to bring your right foot up off the floor.
- Use your right hand to grasp your right foot, so that your right thumb is against the sole and pointing towards your toes.
- Next, raise your left arm up so your fingers point up to the ceiling, keeping it straight.
- Raise your right leg up and behind you, allowing your torso and left arm to move forward as a trusty counterbalance.
- Be mindful to prevent your right knee from moving to the side – keep it strong and straight.
- Next, kick your right foot firmly into the grasp of your right hand to raise your leg even higher and deepen the bend in your back. Engage your right foot and toes for extra stability.
- Note: the firmer you push against your right hard, the higher you will be able to lift your leg.
- Keep focusing on that fixed point, as your remain here for 3 to 10 deep breaths. Then release and repeat on other side.
#7: Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Mastering the half moon pose will improve your balance by teaching you how to coordinate interdependent and opposing actions in the body while strengthening both legs.
As with the other standing poses featured here, this pose will not only better your ability to find balance in your body – but also balances your mind, requiring strong focus and mental stillness to maintain.
- Starting in mountain pose on your mat, spread your legs as wide as is comforthable and still allows you to keep your legs straight, arms in a T-position.
- Next, move your left hand down to the inside of your left ankle, as you bring your right arm up, straight to the ceiling. This is extended triangle pose.
- From here, turn your left foot outwards and move your right foot forward slightly, turning your gaze to the floor.
- Bend your left leg (which should be your front leg) as you shift your body weight onto your left foot.
- Reach your left hand forward slightly and rest it on the ground (or a high block for extra stability) directly under your left shoulder, pressing your fingers down to steady yourself.
- Raise your right leg up until it is parallel to the ground. When stable here, stretch your right hand up to the ceiling as your slowly twist your hips, shoulders and torso back to open your chest.
- If you can, bring your gaze to your right hand to really test your balance. (Note: Keeping a slight bend in your standing leg will help you balance and prevent hyperextenion in your knee!)
- Remain here for 3-8 deep breaths, then release and repeat on other side.
Standing poses done – So how about trying some seated positions?
Now that you’ve got some standing poses down, how about reaping the benefits of yoga’s seated postures?
Interested? Read this: The 6 Best Yoga Sitting Poses