13 Yoga Poses to Help You Be Less Klutzy
Last Updated: Mar 18, 2016
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Young lady listening to music on bed
We all have our klutzy moments. We trip over a pair of shoes we didn’t put away, our foot catches on a bump in the sidewalk or we just don’t see that one last stair. While yoga can’t prevent all of those less-than-graceful accidents, balancing poses can give you more control and even stop you from falling. These 13 poses are meant to help you find balance, challenge your single-leg stability and build core strength. You can put them together into a vinyasa (yoga sequence) or pick just a few on which to focus, holding the poses for an extended period of time for a more meditative practice.
MOUNTAIN POSE (TADASANA)
The basics of this pose are simple enough -- it boils down to standing. But standing with proper form takes time and patience to retrain your body how to immediately find correct alignment. Each time you enter this pose, run through all these steps from toe to head until it becomes second nature to you. Once your body naturally falls into a stacked position, you’re less likely to lose your balance. HOW TO DO IT: Stand up straight and tall with your big toes touching and your heels a few inches apart. Stack your ankles under your knees and your knees under your hips. Knees and hips should be facing forward. Tilt your tailbone under a bit so that your pelvis is in a neutral position. Engage your abs to draw your rib cage down slightly. Roll your shoulders back and down your spine with your arms at your sides and palms facing out (or place your hands in prayer at the center of your chest). Keep your shoulders under your ears and your chin parallel to the floor. Stand like this for at least five breaths (or as long as you’d like). For an even greater challenge, close your eyes.
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Man doing yoga pose next to creek, rear view
TREE POSE (VRKSASANA)
By practicing this pose frequently, you’ll improve your single-leg strength and build hip and oblique strength, which is important in maintaining your balance. When you feel stable enough in this pose, try closing your eyes. By taking away your sight, you rely more on your sense of proprioception -- how your mind perceives your body in space -- which will make you even more aware of the space around you when your eyes are open. HOW TO DO IT: Begin in mountain pose. Reach down with your right hand and place your right foot on your ankle, shin or inner thigh (not on your knee). Your hips should be squared forward with your left hip tucked in (don’t sit into it and let it lean out to the side). Your right knee points out to the side and your left knee points forward. You can place your hands at heart center, or if you’d like a challenge, bring them straight out to the side or up over your head. Stay here for at least five to 10 breaths. Then slowly release your arms and lower your foot to the ground before repeating with the other leg.
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Beach yoga session by polish sea
TRIANGLE POSE (TRIKONASANA)
While this pose primarily stretches the hamstrings, hips and obliques, it also puts your head and torso perpendicular to its standard alignment. And if you’re able to look up at the top hand during the pose, you’ll challenge your balance and perspective even more because you won’t be able to use the ground as a focus point. HOW TO DO IT: Spread your feet two to three feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot in just slightly. Your right heel and left arch should be in alignment. Raise your arms out to the side so they’re parallel to the floor and bend at your waist so that your right hand rests on your right foot or shin. Keep hips squared forward and level. If you can, rotate your head to look up at your left hand. Hold the pose for five breaths before slowly rising back to standing and repeating on the other side.
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CHAIR POSE (UTKATASANA)
For this pose, you’ll need core and thigh strength to keep yourself balanced despite your center of gravity being lower. Just like a standard squat, this pose also has functional applications when it comes to easily getting in and out of a chair. HOW TO DO IT: Start in mountain pose, but with your feet parallel and a few inches apart. Root down through your feet as you hinge your hips back and down as if you were sitting in a chair. Make sure your knees are tracking over your toes and try to get your hips parallel to the floor. Tuck your tailbone under so you aren’t putting any extra pressure on your lower back. Raise you arms overhead and work to get your elbows straight and in line with your ears without lifting your shoulders. Hold for seven breaths before standing up slowly and with control.
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LORD OF THE DANCE POSE (NATARAJASANA)
This is a more advanced balancing pose, but you can take it step by step and work on your strength and flexibility before taking it all the way. If your flexibility is an issue, you can also use a yoga strap around your ankle. HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet parallel and a few inches apart. Bend your left knee so that your left foot comes behind you, then grab it with your left hand. Using your right arm as a counterbalance, lean forward as you kick your left foot into your left hand and begin to lift your left foot back behind you, using the flexibility of your back to help. If you’re using a strap, secure one end around your ankle and hold the other end with both hands over your head. Hold the pose for as long as you can (that might only be a few breaths) before lowering your foot and repeating on the other leg.
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WARRIOR II (VIRABHADRASANA II)
Warrior poses are meant to ground you to the earth and build lower-body strength, both of which are important in preventing falls and maintaining gracefulness. And in warrior II you’ll really need core stability and balance to keep your entire body in a straight line from your front foot to your back foot. HOW TO DO IT: Spread your feet three to four feet apart, turning your left foot out 90 degrees and your back foot in 45 degrees. Both heels should be in alignment. Bend your left knee to 90 degrees, but don’t let it drift over your front ankle. Square your hips to the side (not toward your front foot) and lift your arms out to the side so they’re parallel to the floor and tracking over your legs. Imagine that your body is between two glass walls to help yourself visualize the correct posture. Hold for five to 10 breaths before rising up and switching sides.
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EAGLE POSE (GARUDASANA)
Like tree pose, you’ll be balancing on one leg. Unlike tree pose, you’ll need to rely on your hip flexibility and stability to wrap your legs around each other and your shoulder flexibility to mimic the wrap in your upper body. HOW TO DO IT: Start standing and slowly shift your weight to your left foot. Cross your right thigh over your left thigh and tuck your right foot behind your left calf if you can. Bend both knees so that you’re sinking back just slightly. Hold your arms out in front of you and cross your left arm over your right arm and intertwine the arms so that the palms touch in front of your face. Feel the stretch in your shoulders as you pull your elbows into your body. Hold for five breaths before untangling and repeating on the other side. Remember, whichever leg crosses on top, the opposite arm should cross in front.
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PLANK POSE (PHALAKASANA)
This is another fairly basic yoga pose with an unlimited potential for functional applications. You’ll build core strength and teach your body to properly align itself from head to foot -- even in a different spatial orientation. HOW TO DO IT: Begin on all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Push your feet back behind you and straighten your body so that you’re in a perfect line from head to feet. Push through your hands so that you don’t sink into your shoulders. Keep your core engaged to prevent your hips from sagging or your back from arching. Hold here for 10 breaths. Return to your knees before repeating the pose a second or third time.
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HALF MOON POSE (ARDHA CHANDRASANA)
Challenge your single-leg balance as well as your hip strength and flexibility with this pose that takes triangle pose and tilts it to the side. The key is to not cartwheel over or sway from front to back. HOW TO DO IT: Start in triangle pose (see slide 3). Move your front hand out in front of your foot several inches and begin to lift your back leg off the ground slowly and with control. Support yourself with your hand and gaze at the floor as you find your balance. Your hips should be squared outward and your back leg parallel to the floor. Place your hand on a yoga block if you need extra support. Raise your back arm up to be in line with your grounded hand. If you have enough stability, gaze up at your top hand. Hold for five breaths before lowering your back leg down and repeating on the other leg.
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WARRIOR III (VIRABHADRASANA III)
Take what you learned about grounding yourself from warrior II and take flight in warrior III. This balancing pose still requires you to ground down through your foot, but this time you’re only standing on one leg. HOW TO DO IT: Start in warrior I (feet three to four feet apart, left foot out 90 degrees, right foot in 45 degrees, hips squared over your left leg, which is bent to 90 degrees). Raise your arms overhead, then reach out in front of you as you slowly lift your back leg off the ground. Upper body, arms and free-floating leg should be parallel to the floor. Make sure both hips stay square to the ground and keep your arms up overhead, bring them down to heart center or float them out to the side like airplane wings. Stay here for five breaths before lowering down and repeating on the other leg.
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CROW POSE (BAKASANA)
Sure, this pose is a slight departure from the other balancing poses in this series, but it’s important to incorporate arm strength and throw yourself into a new position to see how your body responds. Plus, you’ll still develop plenty of balance and stability in this pose. HOW TO DO IT: Start standing with your feet several inches apart and your feet turned out. Bend your knees and place your hands a few inches in front of you. Squat down with your butt between your feet and bend your elbows in toward your body. Place your knees on your triceps and begin to lift your feet off the floor. At first play with just lifting one foot off the floor at a time until you get the feel for it. When you’re ready, bring both feet off the ground and tuck them toward your glutes. Work to straighten your arms as you balance there. Hold for five breaths before lowering back down.
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SIDE PLANK (VASISTHASANA)
Life isn’t always forward and backward: Sometimes you have to know how to deal with the twists and turns. That’s where a pose like side plank comes in. When you build your oblique and side-body strength, you’re more prepared for the curveballs life throws at you. HOW TO DO IT: Start in plank pose (see slide 8) with your body in a perfectly straight line from head to toe. Shift your weight into your right hand as you stack your right foot on top of your left foot. Twist to the side so that you’re supporting your weight in your left hand and foot. Keep your body in a straight line as you engage your hips and obliques. Leave your hand straight out to the side or raise it over your head and hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
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EXTENDED HAND-TO-BIG-TOE POSE (UTTHITA HASTA PADANGUSTASANA)
As the final balancing pose, this one not only requires a lot of stability, you also need quite a bit of hamstring flexibility. If you’re not quite there yet, modify it by keeping your knee bent and keep practicing. HOW TO DO IT: Begin in mountain pose with your feet parallel and slightly apart. Reach down with your right hand to grab your right foot as if you were doing tree pose. Instead of anchoring your right foot to your left leg, grab your right big toe with your thumb and first two fingers of your right hand. Place your left hand on your left hip for balance and straighten your right foot out to the side. Keep your hip from jutting out and stand tall. Hold for a few breaths before returning your foot to the starting position and repeating on the other side.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Are you a self-described klutz? Will you try any of these yoga poses (or have you already)? What other ones do you think we should have added to the list? Are there exercises other than yoga that you do to build core strength and balance to prevent trips from turning into falls? Share you thoughts, suggestions and stories in the comments section below!
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