When most people start to practice yoga they notice one (or more) of three areas where they might be lacking: strength, flexibility or balance.
The latter is surprising for most people because unless you ride your unicycle to work everyday or regularly get tested for drunk driving, you seldom think about balance.
So how do you go from catch-me-I’m-falling newbie to I’m-balancing-on-my-left-pinky-toe master? Easy. All you need are small interim steps, patience, and the kinesthetic abilities of an Olympic medalist. Just kidding about that last one.
What’s something that’s a little harder than just lifting one foot off the ground and a little easier than the more conventional tree or eagle pose?
The Wobbly Crane, that’s what. Try it:
1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, spread out the arches of your feet, and then lift and bring your toes down like you’re gripping your yoga mat or the floor.
2. Pick a spot on the floor, a couple of yards/meters in front of you, and keep your eyes there.
3. Lift your arms to the sides, shift onto your right foot and raise the left leg out to the side.
4. Here’s the crane: bend both knees slightly and cross your left ankle on top of your right thigh, just above the right knee.
5. Hinge forward from the hip and rest your hands easily on the left ankle plus left knee or calf. Keep your back straight and your shoulders drawn back. Remember to breathe. Stay for thirty seconds.
That’s it! After half a minute, repeat on the other side and progress gradually to a minute or more on each side.
Benefits: Becoming balance-smarter without bruising your ego.
Avoid if: The knee on the standing leg hurts in this position. Or if you don’t have fast enough reflexes to keep from bruising yourself (and your ego) when you lose your balance.
Final thoughts: Master the Wobbly Crane and you’ll confidently tackle yoga’s more advanced poses. Master those and I’ll be paying money to attend your riveting performance at Cirque du Soleil.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta