Updated: Jun 4, 2021
What is balance? It is the ability to remain in a position or to move, without losing control or falling. To keep us upright, our brain uses messages from our “balance organs” - sensory organs; our inner ears, our eyes, and the joints. Together, they tell the brain where the body is in the space. Our brains do a phenomenal job to coordinate all those signals and effortlessly make endless adjustments that makes balance possible.
Balance is something we take for granted, but similar to our muscles’ strength – if we don’t use it, we lose it! And like with many things in our life, we don’t think about it until something goes wrong - like a fall, and by then it is much harder to correct it. As we go into ours 40’s and 50's, balance naturally starts to deteriorate. Our muscles tend to get weaker, we become less active; our eyes, ears and even brains are not as good as they used to be. Generally, our life habits, like spending hours behind screens or a steering wheel, doesn’t help.
The good news is – it is never too late to improve it by challenging it regularly! In my opinion, Yoga and Qigong/Tai Chi are of the best activities to improve balance. It is slow with controlled movements and three dimensional, so the head moves in different direction than to the rest of your body.
But to be honest - you don’t even have to go to a yoga class to practice standing on one leg! You can do it while waiting for the kettle to boil, while cooking or brushing your teeth! Stand on one leg for 20-30 seconds, then swap and do the same on the other leg. When you feel confident at standing on one leg for 1 minute, close your eyes for an even greater challenge! Do it every day. After about 1 month, you should start finding it easier. It not only stimulates the brain, but also improves your posture, core strength and general mood.