2 Mini Yoga Flows to Improve Your Balance

By Elizabeth Millard, A.C.E.-certified trainer, RYT-200 yoga teacher |

Good balance is an unsung hero of healthy aging. It’s vital for moving through your day with ease. Use these simple poses to help you stay steady.

senior woman practicing yoga at home for a story on yoga flows to improve balance

Most of us weren’t born gymnasts, and our sense of balance can get worse as time goes on. Muscle weakness and unstable joints can make you feel wobbly, and many seniors can also feel dizzy or lightheaded sometimes. That can be caused by side effects from medication, inner ear problems, or conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Fortunately, starting a yoga practice can really improve your stability. Yoga helps build muscle and increase flexibility, not to mention it builds confidence in the way you move around and carry yourself.

These two short yoga flows feature poses that help build strength and improve balance. They are easy to learn and great additions to your daily routine.

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How to Use the Two Mini Yoga Flows for Better Balance

If you’re new to yoga, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re doing poses. Bonus: These techniques can also be used when you’re doing other activities too.

  • Take deep breaths. Slow and steady breaths can help your muscles relax and calm your mind.
  • Focus on one object. Direct your gaze about 10 feet in front of you on the floor. Looking around while you’re trying to balance can make you more unstable.
  • Engage your core muscles. This doesn’t mean sucking in your gut. Instead, gently contract your abdominal muscles, which can help keep you feel steadier while you’re standing.

As always, safety is key. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program, especially if you have any chronic conditions, including osteoporosis or joint issues. These yoga balance poses can be modified as needed. For example, have a sturdy chair close by for support or do them near a wall.

What you need:

  • Yoga mat or carpeted area
  • Space to move
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Sturdy chair
  • Yoga block, optional
  • Water to sip, as needed

These two mini flows are designed to do as a sequence, which means do one as described and move right on to the next. Try to hold each pose for five slow, full breaths. Aim to repeat each flow three times. You can combine the two flows for a longer sequence.

The poses are gentle enough to do every day. Feel free to make this mini-yoga session all your own!

Flow #1: Mountain Cactus to Chair to Tree

This flow strengthens the muscles that support your spine and builds lower body strength to help shore up your stability.

Mountain Cactus Pose

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Roll your shoulders up, back, and down.
  • Inhale, reach your arms out and overhead.
  • Exhale, bring your arms out to your sides with palms facing forward and elbows bent 90 degrees like a cactus.
  • Repeat 5 times

Form tips: Keep your chest lifted and feel your feet rooted to the floor.

Chair Pose

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, making sure your knees and hips are facing forward. Engage your belly.
  • Sit back, bending your knees and lowering your hips as if you are hovering over a chair.
  • Keeping your weight in your heels, reach your arms forward for counterbalance.
  • Hold here for five slow, deep breaths, then press through your feet to return to standing.

Form tip: Try to keep your back in one straight line throughout this pose. If your lower back starts to arch, tilt your tailbone down toward the floor. This will feel much more comfortable!

Tree Pose

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and your toes, knees, and hips facing forward.
  • Roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Draw your belly in for support and lift your chest.
  • Shift your weight to your right foot. Turn your left toes slightly out, lift your heel, and draw it toward your right foot like a kickstand. Make sure not to put pressure on the ankle joint itself.
  • You can bring your palms together in front of your chest or hold on to a sturdy chair for support.
  • Stand tall and breathe for five breaths.
  • Return to standing on both feet and repeat on the other side.

Make it harder: Place the sole of your lifted foot inside the calf or thigh of your standing leg. Make sure not to put pressure on the knee joint.

Recommended FREE SilverSneakers On-Demand Class: Yoga Poses for Seniors

Flow #2: Downward Dog to Seated Crescent Lunge to Warrior II

This flow builds strength in the hips, core, and back — and promotes healthy, confident posture.

Downward Facing Dog Pose (Chair or Wall Supported)

How to do it:

  • Stand facing a sturdy chair about arm’s length away with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart. (You can place the chair so the seat is facing you, as shown, or so the back of the chair is facing you.)
  • Hinging from your hips, take a few steps back so that your spine becomes parallel with the floor, or as far as you comfortably can.
  • Hold for 5 deep breaths.
  • Bend your knees, and take baby steps toward the chair, rounding your back slightly as you return to standing.

Seated Crescent Lunge Pose

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How to do it:

  • Sit toward the edge of a sturdy chair.
  • Turn your body to the left so that your left leg is forward, and your right leg is behind you.
  • Place your left foot flat on the floor. Your left thigh will be on the chair.
  • Extend your right leg behind you. It’s OK to bend the knee but try to have the ball of your right foot touch the floor.
  • Press both feet into the ground so you feel a squeeze in your leg muscles.
  • Brace your core, engaging the muscles around your belly button.
  • Roll your shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades in.
  • Keep your hands on your waist or raise them above your head as far as you comfortably can.
  • Keep your head neutral and gaze forward.
  • Hold for 5 deep breaths.
  • Return to start and repeat on the other side.

Warrior II Pose

How to do it:

  • Begin in a staggered stance, with your left foot forward and right foot back.
  • Turn your left toes out so they’re pointing straight ahead.
  • Bend your left knee about 90 degrees, keeping your knee above your ankle and heel.
  • Keep the outer edge of your right (back) foot firmly on the floor. Engage your belly.
  • Extend your arms out at your sides with your palms facing down and gaze out over the middle fingertips of your left hand.
  • Breathe here for 5 slow, deep breaths.
  • Gently return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Form tip: To really engage your core and reduce any stress on your lower back, tuck your tailbone slightly. Think about eliminating any curve in your lower back and imagine there’s a string pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling.

Wall-supported variation:

  • Stand directly against a wall and perform the pose as described above.
  • If you have a yoga block, you can place it between the wall and the thigh of your bent leg, for extra support.

Chair variation:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair, as shown in the Seated Crescent Lunge. Position your legs as described in the standing version, above.
  • Lift your arms parallel to the ground. If you have tight or achy shoulders, you can keep your hands on your hips.

Love these exercises and want more? Try SilverSneakers Yoga! Classes are offered both in-person at participating locations and online with SilverSneakers LIVE

Other Ways to Improve Your Balance

Yoga flows aren’t the only way to improve your stability. You can practice balance training throughout your day. For example:

  • Alternate lifting one foot off the floor while you’re brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.
  • Take the stairs at a slower pace, and let your top foot take an extra second before you place it on the higher step.
  • You can even practice while running errands — like standing on one foot while waiting in line in the grocery store.

See our sources:
Older adults and balance problems: National Institute on Aging

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