Kinesthetic awareness…that’s what the practice of yoga builds over time.
Although it might seem that the point of yoga is how good we feel at the end of class, the more transcendental benefit is enhanced proprioception…the ability to feel your own body in space, muscles relative to one another…and hence take that awareness into daily living so we align ourselves better and need yoga less.
Few things enhance proprioception or kinesthetic awareness more than balance positions.
And balance seems to be universally defined as what you do on your hands or on your feet.
Ready to stretch your brain a bit? Try the knee balance pose.
To do this, you need…a pair of good knees. Sure, you can cushion them with a double-folded yoga mat, but if putting your body weight on any one of them still hurts, there’s no point in doing this pose. (And that, by the way, applies to all yoga poses that you cannot adjust to your body’s comfort.)
If your knees are good and healthy, grab a couple of yoga blocks or something equivalent, and here we go:
1. Start from a kneeling position, with your blocks beneath your hands. Raise your left leg.
…and…a side view of the exact same position.
2. Now the idea is to grab the blocks and lift both arms simultaneously for momentary balance. Typically people can hold this balance from a fraction of a second to a few seconds. When you feel yourself losing your balance…
3…. tap down with one block to balance out again…
4. Do this with whichever block needs to tap down for the course of half a minute..and then repeat with the other knee supporting you for another half a minute on the second side.
For extra (balancing) credit: balance with only the knee: the foot lifts off the mat too.
Benefits: The ability to train your brain to balance with something other than what it’s accustomed to: hands or feet. Improved kinesthetic sense of your body.
Avoid If: Your knees hurt, as described.
Final thoughts: Kinesthetic awareness should not be confused with kinetic awareness. The latter is the force with which any part of your body bangs on something. (Usually followed by an expletive exclaimed with equivalent kinetic force.)
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