The words ‘balance’ and ‘yoga’ can sometimes be enough for people looking for a way to relieve lower back pain to shake their head and say, “I can’t do yoga. I have terrible balance!” If you’re able to accept the fact that you can’t balance very well yet, learning how to improve balance will increase the alignment, strength, and focus of your body and mind. A regular yoga practice will start to relieve lower back pain with yoga poses designed to target problem areas, strengthen leg and glute muscles, and drastically improve balance.
Finding Balance in All Areas of Life
When you think of balance you might think of figuring out how to manage your work-life balance, or how you are going to balance your checkbook this month, or trying to eat a balanced diet, or keeping the tires on your car balanced, among a million other things you are trying to balance in your life in order to keep your sanity and try to live happily.
When you allow parts of your life to get out of balance then one part of your life might be doing great but I can almost be sure that another part of your life is directly being hurt because of it.
You might not realize it or even think it matters at first but, given enough time, anything that has become out of balance in your life will eventually catch up to you. For example, it might be possible for you to spend thousands of dollars on a credit card that you can’t pay back and live like a king for a few months, but eventually the bank is going to come knocking.
However, when people tell you that they “have terrible balance” they are referring to one thing – their body.
Why does most of the world worry about trying to balance everything else in their lives, but when it comes to their own body they ignore it and allow their physical and mental health to deteriorate?
Just like the bank coming for you if you don’t pay your credit card bill, having poor balance in your body can lead to severe health issues and decreased quality of life.
If you have low back pain, especially chronic low back pain, then you might be able to get through your day while dealing with the pain. Left alone, however, and it is only a matter of time before something like sciatica or a sudden wrong move can turn your world upside down. And not the good kind of upside down like when you see people balancing in an inverted yoga posture. The bad kind of upside down like a herniated disc or a pulled muscle, both of which can land you in the hospital.
How to Improve Balance in Your Body
So what can you do to get your body back on track and start finding relief from chronic pains in areas like your lower back? The simple answer is to start a regular yoga practice. Yoga utilizes your balance in virtually every standing posture and helps align, strengthen, and focus your body, mind, and life.
Sadly, the simple answer is not enough to get those that think they have terrible balance and flexibility to start practicing yoga even though the health benefits of a regular yoga practice will dramatically increase their quality of life.
Not only will your balance improve with a regular yoga practice, every aspect of your health will improve from better cardiovascular health, digestion, flexibility, mental health, and much more, especially for men..
In order to understand how improving your balance with yoga will help with your overall health as well as helping to relieve lower back pain, you must first understand what makes balance happen in your body and why you need it in order to heal chronic aches and pains.
When you are standing in an upright position with your feet together and your hands by your side it should be fairly easy for you to balance. The reason for this is because your body’s center of gravity is right around your navel (belly-button) and your weight is equally distributed to both sides of your body.
But what happens when you start to lift one leg off of the ground? The half of your body that was once supported by your leg is now floating in mid-air, most likely causing you to thrust your opposite hip out to the side to compensate for the change. As your body shifts positions your center of gravity shifts as well which causes the alignment of your body to change, often causing you to wobble or fall over if you have poor balance.
When practicing one-legged balancing postures your body automatically starts to align itself to the new center of gravity that you have moved it into. You might find yourself spreading your arms out to the side to find your balance because this increases your center of gravity without adding much weight that you have to compensate for.
As your body begins to learn how to realign itself to compensate for the new center of gravity it will become much easier for you to gain your balance overtime. It it crucial for your body to learn how it feels while in balancing postures in order to be able to advance far enough into your practice that you can start using balancing yoga poses to target the areas of your body that are causing you pain.
At first it might seem impossible to even stand on one leg for any amount of extended time because, even though you might actually be able to find your balance for a few seconds, the muscles in your legs begin to burn, causing you to fall out of the posture. However, each time that you attempt a balancing posture the muscles that are being activated when you try to catch your balance are getting stronger.
Once again, when you lift one leg off of the ground your body will most likely try to compensate for the change in your center of gravity by thrusting your body and arms in all different directions. Most of the time you will try to use your core muscles to bring your body weight back into alignment but if your muscles are weak or injured you will often end up falling out of the posture.
There are a lot of small muscles that make tiny micro-adjustments each time you attempt a balancing posture but the larger muscle groups, like your core and your glutes, are mainly responsible for maintaining your balance. As the muscles surrounding your bones get stronger they are able to hold your body into place for longer periods of time while in balancing postures.
If you’ve ever attempted a balancing posture then you know how much of your attention you must give to what you are doing otherwise you will most likely fall out of the pose. Although the alignment and strength of your muscles, bones, and joints is crucial for improving your balance, if you are unable to clear your mind while practicing then you won’t get very far while balancing.
Think of your brain as a complex computer that has to make hundreds of calculations in a matter of seconds in order for you to function in life without a delay. Since there is so much happening in your body as you attempt a balancing posture, your brain is being overwhelmed with information about the task at hand and doesn’t have much more space for external thought. The second you lose your focus during a pose and start thinking about something else, your brain can’t keep up and you are likely to lose your balance.
Practicing balancing postures forces you to focus on what you are doing so you don’t fall over which is why even the most difficult balancing postures can leave your mind as clear as if you just did an hour of meditation. Since you are only focusing on what you need to do in order to successfully perform the posture, everything else falls away from your mind leaving you in an almost meditative state while the rest of your body is working extremely hard.
Finding Your Balance to Help Relieve Lower Back Pain
When all aspects of balance are achieved – alignment, strength, and focus – you will be able to do things with your body and put it into positions that you never thought would be possible. Some of the most difficult balancing postures, like Half-Moon Pose, are amazing for lower back pain relief.
Once you are able to stop worrying about finding your balance in a pose you can actually start feeling how that pose affects your body and make adjustments that will target your problem areas. As you advance in your practice you will find it easier to control your body and mind while in balancing postures and use them to help relieve aches and pains in your body.
The fastest way for you to improve your balance and find relief from chronic lower back pain is to start a regular yoga practice.
Your body knows exactly what it needs in order to find balance in the world and in your life and practicing yoga gives it a foundation on which to start the healing process. Not only will your balance and lower back pain improve, every other aspect of your life will improve as well.
How can you start to add balance to your body?
Stick With It!