Tree Pose: An Evidence-Based Way to Improve Balance

Balance is achieved through complex interactions between the brain, eyes, inner ear, joint receptors and muscles.  Good balance is essential to prevent injuries at any age.  Yoga is a fun and evidence based way to improve balance and it is the focus of this blog entry.

A 2008 study performed by Hart and colleges examined the effects on motor variability and balance in young adults participating in yoga.  The researchers tested changes in single leg stance balance and isometric steadiness for a total of 21 young adults that were divided into one of two groups:

  • Intervention group: Bikram yoga (hot yoga consisting of 26 postures performed twice) for 8 weeks
  • Control group: wait listed for 8 weeks

The researchers found the Yoga group demonstrated 228% improvement in average balance time compared to no change in the control group.  No change in motor variability was found in either group

 Bikram yoga classes include two balancing postures.   Tree pose is the easier of the two and will be discussed today.  Check back next week for instruction on Eagle, the more challenging balance posture included in the Bikram series.

There is a variation of tree appropriate for every skill level and it is something that I include in nearly every gentle yoga class that I teach.

 

Instructions for Tree:

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose, standing tall, with legs and abdominals active and feet shoulder width apart.   Gaze at a fixed point in front of you
  2. Shift your weight onto the left leg.
  3. Bend your right knee and draw your R foot up and place it against the inner left thigh, lower leg or arch.  Allow your hands to assist with placement of the R foot if needed.
  4. Create dynamic tension by firmly pressing the right foot and left leg together.
  5. Lift the spine and engage the abdominals
  6. Press your hands together in prayer pose
  7. For additional challenge, raise the arms up once you are balanced.
  8.  Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on fixing the gaze and keeping the entire body active.  Note mental concentration will be needed.
  9. Step back to Mountain Pose with an exhalation and repeat for the other leg .

 Notes:

  • Focus on actively pressing all edges of your foot into the ground. 
  • If you desire additional support, lightly hold onto the back of a chair with either one or both hands.
  • Be sure to not place your foot on the knee joint; the pressure  from the foot can create hypermobile lateral collateral knee ligaments.

 

Reference:

Hart, C. E. F, et al. (2008). Yoga as steadiness training: effects on motor variability in young adults.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  22: 1659-1669.

 Photo Credit: yogajournal.com

Advertisements

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Fredrick
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 21:36:24

    Well put Well said. I do love the way you have composed this particular issue. Thanks.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: