Finding Your Center of Gravity

Woman practicing one-legged pose

How Gravity Affects Your Yoga Practice

Gravity constantly exerts pressure on our bodies whether we're walking down the street or practicing yoga. If you struggle to hold certain poses, making a few subtle alignment changes can help you maintain your center of gravity.

Finding Your Center of Gravity

When you're standing, your center of gravity (COG) is located in the mid-section of your body around your navel. In this position, your weight is equally distributed on both sides of your body.

The location of your standing COG varies depending on your gender, muscle distribution, and height. If you're tall, your COG will be a little higher than your friend who's six inches shorter.

Why Your Center of Gravity Is Important in Yoga

Your COG constantly changes as you move. When you lean forward, the center shifts toward your upper body. Raising your arms above your head causes your COG to move upward, while your forearms become your COG when you perform a headstand. The lower your COG, the easier it is to keep your balance.

Understanding how your COG changes as you perform various yoga poses will help you master challenging positions and poses. These tips can help you improve your balance and control your COG:

  • Align Your Center of Gravity Over Your Base of Support (BOS). When you keep your center of gravity over your BOS, you're much less likely to fall out of the pose. Your BOS could be your feet, hands, pelvis, or buttocks, depending on the pose.
  • Practice Standing on One Foot. Standing on one foot forces you to make subtle changes to the alignment of your muscles and bones to improve your balance and find your center of gravity. Mastering this skill can help you when performing the tree pose or hand-to-big-toe pose.
  • Strengthen Your Muscles. Strong muscles make it easier to hold difficult poses and use your center of gravity to maintain balance. The dolphin plank pose and boat pose can help you strengthen your core, while the crow and downward-facing dog poses will keep your arms strong.
  • Move Slowly from Movement to Movement. Slow, deliberate movements are particularly important when you practice new poses. When you move slowly, it's easier to make the adjustments needed to shift your COG.
  • Shift Your Hips. If you begin to sway in a standing pose, moving your hips slightly in the other direction may help you regain your balance.
  • Make a Few Modifications. Do you have trouble keeping your balance during the tree pose? Try it with your arms at your sides, then gradually raise them. Bending a leg or widening your stance can help you find your COG in other poses. As your muscles become stronger and you become more proficient at moving from pose to pose, you may find that you no longer need to make these modifications.
  • Ask for Help. Your yoga instructor can offer helpful advice that will make finding your COG and improving your balance easier. In addition to making specific suggestions, your instructor may also recommend using yoga props when trying challenging new poses.

Overcoming challenges to master new poses is one of the most rewarding aspects of yoga. Whether you're considering joining a class for the first time, or yoga has been part of your life for years, we're here to help you realize your potential. Contact us for information on our current class schedule.

Sources:

Yoga Journal: Plumb Perfect: The Physics + Power of Balancing Poses, 4/12/17

Livestrong: What Helps Strengthen Your Center of Gravity?

Yoga International: 3 Innovative Ways to Improve Your Balance