Our monthly columnist, local yoga teacher, Kate Knowles, has been teaching yoga since 2004, and aims to offer classes that allow people to feel better after class than they did at the beginning.
What goes wrong with our balance?
Sadly a great number of people find that their balance isn’t as good as it used to be, either through injury, ear or eye problems, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or MS, or a condition like Meniere’s disease. Lack of balance and stability can result in a loss of confidence, serious injury or death resulting from a fall. Worldwide, falls are a major cause of death, so the more we can do to prevent falls the better. None of us are getting any younger, so now is a good time to start improving balance, because it’s a good predictor of how long we will live and how healthy we will be.
How do we balance?
Like most things, our balance is something we take for granted until it goes wrong. Balance is governed by an intricate co-ordination between our sense of sight, our vestibular system within our ears, and what we can feel within our body. Kate has struggled intermittently with inner ear problems, so understands very well how difficult it can be when balance goes wrong.
How can yoga help?
All of Kate’s yoga classes feature movements to improve balance, through improving strength, flexibility and co-ordination. A regular yoga practice can bring real improvements to our balance and stability. Often people will discover that they can balance better on one side than the other.
Class attendees are encouraged to hold onto a chair or the wall while they begin practicing balancing, and improve their strength. Yoga poses where we stand on one leg such as tree or eagle are great for building balance. Kate often includes dynamic balance sequences in class. The time when we need our balance in daily life is usually when we are moving, so it’s great to bring movement into our balance practices in class. Balancing on an uneven surface in class challenges and improves our balance even further, helping with our sense of proprioception – awareness of where we are in space.
Balance every day!
Research shows that balance is linked with longevity, so the more we can practice balancing the better.
Balancing is something we can all do on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas to implement:-
Try balancing on one foot when you’re brushing your teeth (hold onto the sink for extra support!). Swap from foot to foot every so often.
Imagine you’re walking along a thick tightrope, taking small steps, heel to toe. Your arms can be outstretched for additional balance, or hold onto a chair as you do this. For extra challenge, try doing this backwards, or if you’re feeling confident have a go with your eyes closed!
Have a go at standing and balancing as you put your socks and shoes on, rather than sitting down to do it.
Try walking barefoot outside as long as it’s safe to do so. Walking on uneven ground is great for our sense of connection to the earth.
There are loads of great balance exercises suggested on the NHS website.
Regular yoga classes and Better Balance training
Kate offers a variety of regular classes in West Kirby, Hoylake and Thurstaston. Kate also offers a special one day training event in Better Balance. Please contact her for more information – 07708 496645 or visit www.yogawithkate.org.