2 Mindful Movements for Your Balance

Balance and strength are vital for healthy living. Aging and neuromuscular degeneration significantly increase the risk of falling. Studies show that mindful movement such as yoga, taichi, chigong, and walking meditation can counter the risks of falling.

Here are 2 simple but effective mindful movement sequences that would help you improve your balance. Be mindful of practicing the sequences at your own pace.

balance-feature

MBX-2: Carrier Posture, the 2nd movement of MBX-12, stimulates the functions of the lungs and colon, and helps to enhance the stability of the knee joints and the pelvic floor. (Excerpts from Mindful Movement: Mastering Your Hidden Energy book)

There are 3 ways of practicing each movement: Easy, Harder, and Challenging Methods.

The Easy Method is bi-pedal mode meaning practicing on your two feet, and explained in this blog.

The Harder Method is mono-pedal mode meaning practicing on one leg; the Challenging Method is done with your eyes closed with minimum sensory input. If you are an advanced practitioner, you may try these methods at your own risk. Closing eyes while moving will make balancing significantly harder and may lead to falling, so be extremely cautious if you choose to practice the Challenging Method. It is a sound idea to always build up your ability beginning from the Easy and move on to the Harder and Challenging methods.

For Safe Practice

Before practicing, find a quiet and safe place. Walk around the spot you are going to practice on and be familiar with the texture of the floor surface. How is the angle of the floor? If there is anything that would be dangerous, find a safer place to practice.

Breathing durations below are arbitrary. You may determine the length and frequency of breathing to fit your condition. As you feel more comfortable, you may lengthen the duration of inhalation and exhalation. Holding breath may have health risks so be cautious not to push your limit. 

Technique 1: Rising and Falling Arms

Easy Method

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How to do:

  1. From a natural standing position with your feet shoulder width apart, exhale for 3 seconds and relax. Inhaling, slowly bend your knees and raise your arms to the shoulder height. Keep your palms downward and relax your wrists. Your main weight is on the bottoms of the heels. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath and this posture for 5 seconds.
  2. Exhaling, lean your torso forward and swing your arms to the rear. Your main weight is on the balls of your feet. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath and this posture for 5 seconds.
  3. Inhaling, slowly return to #1 position, raising your torso and arms forward to the shoulder height. Your main weight shifts to the bottoms of the heels. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath and this posture for 5 seconds.
  4. Exhaling, return to the start position, standing up to a natural stance and relax. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath for 5 seconds. Repeat #1-3 for 10 times.

What to feel:

  1. a) Feel the force/tension rising from the bottom of the feet, spreading upward through the thighs to the pelvic floor. b) Feel the heaviness on top of the arms. c) Feel the swelling belly during the inhalation (Belly Breathing).
  2.  a) Feel the weight under your feet that shifts from the heels to the balls of the feet. b) Feel the tension on the hamstrings and lower back. c) Feel the releasing sensation in the rear pelvic floor.
  3. Feel the sensation on the tail bone (and the heels) as you raise your torso and arms forward.
  4. Feel the release after standing from the knee-bending positions.

Harder Method:

Practice the Rising and Falling Arms on one leg.

Challenging Method

Practice the Rising and Falling Arms with your eyes closed.

 

Technique 2: Twisting and Bending

Easy Method

balance2

How to do:

  1. From a natural standing position with your feet shoulder width apart, exhale for 3 seconds and relax. Inhaling, slowly bend your knees and raise your arms to the side. Keep your palms upward with open hands. Your main weight is on the bottoms of the heels. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath and this posture for 5 seconds.
  2. Exhaling, slowly bend forward while rotating your arms inward, then to the rear upward. At this time your palms face upward. Your main weight is on the balls of your feet. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath and this posture for 5 seconds.
  3. Inhaling, slowly return to #1 position, raising your torso and arms to the side. Your main weight shifts to the bottoms of the heels. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath and this posture for 5 seconds.
  4. Exhaling, return to the start position, standing up to a natural stance and relax. Movement time: 3 seconds. Hold your breath for 5 seconds. Repeat #1-3 for 10 times.

What to feel:

  1. a) Feel the expansion of the chest. Take a deep breath in. Open your arms as wide as possible. b) Feel the heaviness under your feet and around the knees.
  2.  a) Feel the changing sensations in the entire body as you bend your body inch by inch. b) Feel the rushing blood in the head and exhale gently. c) Feel the releasing sensation near the tail bone. d) Feel the tingling sensations along the arm as you raise your arms to the rear. To further improve your sense of balance and leg strength, you may stay as long as you can in this posture with normal breathing.
  3. Enjoy the expanding sensation of the lungs and stretching arms.
  4. Rise tall and feel the release.

Harder Method:

Practice the Twisting and Bending on one leg.

Challenging Method

Practice the Twisting and Bending with your eyes closed.

 

Lastly, if you have any difficulty practicing the movements, have some support from table, chair, wall, or training partner.

I hope these movements help to build your strength and confidence, and improve the quality of your life.

Have a wonderful and healthy year!

 

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