Get your BEST balance – train your vestibular system

Are you ready to be the most balanced you’ve ever been? So balanced that you could hold tree pose on a sailboat in the middle of a typhoon? Then meet your:

Anatomy: Inner Ear
What is balance?

So balance is a combination of different things. Some of it is musculoskeletal (aka the alignment/ strength of your muscles and bones), some of it down to your level of alertness, whether your nervous system feels like it’s under threat or safe, or even what you had for breakfast (if I have too many coffees my balance falls apart)!

But another crucial component that often gets overlooked is your inner ear (aka vestibiular system).

So the vestibular system (inner ear) is responsible for giving your brain information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation; it is also involved with motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture. This makes this system ESSENTIAL for movement and maintaining equilibrium. In short, when this sensory system is working well we’re balancing like pros.
The inner ear is made up of the vestibular labyrinth (think Pan’s Labyrinth but way less scary). There are swirly canals and tubes that are positioned at approximately right angles to each other. This design allows each of the different canals to detect different head movements like: nodding up and down (“yes” action), shaking side to side (“no” action), and tilting left and right (looking up over one shoulder or down under one shoulder).
If you don’t use it you lose it

And the best part is, we can leverage this knowledge of our vestibular system to improve our balance! Remember that age-old adage if you don’t use it you lose it! Challenging your vestibular system in new and dynamic ways is an excellent way to maintain this valuable system while improving your balance game.

And balance is important, not just because we want to show off our yoga skills but also because balance is a key predictor of lifespan! A recent study* found that the inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds in mid to later life linked to a near doubling in the risk of death within the next 10 years. Wow!

4 Primary Movements to Work On:

  1. Head still and eyes move.
    • You might look silly but you can do this in any yoga posture (think Warrior 2). Bring your thumb in front of you and move your thumb side to side, following the movement with your eyes (head is fixed in place!). Then go up and down & diagonally.
  2. Eyes still head moves
    • Hold your thumb in front of you and focus on it. Move your head side to side without moving your eyes or your thumb, focusing on one point on your thumb the whole time. Then nod the head yes and no and finally move the head diagonally (this one is the hardest for me!)
  3. Coordination!
    • Coordinate these actions together! Lock your eyes on your thumb, move your thumb side to side and follow that movement with your eyes AND head. Then move up and down and diagonally.
  4. Head and Eyes Move in Opposite Directions (this one is definitely the hardest!)
    • Fix your eyes on your thumb. Move your thumb to the right but turn the head to the left while keeping your gaze on your thumb. Then move up and down and diagonally.

👉Try 5 to 10 repetitions or 30 seconds for each one of the lines.👈

⚠️Make sure to not overdo these in the beginning, start small and work your way up so you don’t overwhelm the nervous system (if you feel dizzy or nauseous 🤢 you’ve done a bit too much too fast)⚠️

What I find extra fun about these is that you can try out these 4 different drills in any yoga asana (you might look a bit mad, but what’s the fun in looking sane all the time?)! Try different speeds, big movements, slow movements, etc. 🙌

– Upcoming Events –

➯ ✨Cornwall Yoga Retreat 
🐥 For a limited time get £100 off with the early bird price! 🐤
Sept 11th – 14th in Fowey, Cornwall Click Here for Details

➯ Journey to Headstand 🙃 Saturday 17th June
2:00-4:00PM in Greenwich, London Click Here for Details
 As always thank you for inviting me into your practice! I put a lot of time and effort into creating these, so if you’ve enjoyed the content please let me know and share it with yogi friends 🙂

x  Andie


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