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Three range-of-motion stretches to help with balance

We all might agree that winter is a wonderful time for cozy things like movies, books, and indoor hobbies. Such winter activities bring delight to our imagination and warm our hearts when it’s cold outside. Yet, I’m sure you’d also agree that such indoor activities are sedentary and thus reduce our physical range-of-motion. In fact, this decrease in peripheral activity has many unforeseen consequences that might make you think twice about staying so cooped up during winter.

Lack of peripheral activity reduces our awareness of our surroundings and puts us off balance. For seniors, this means we are less sensitive to trip hazards in our surroundings and our eyes are less keen to see them. The more we coop up, the worse our balance gets. Luckily though, the more we exercise our range-of-motion and
peripheral awareness, our risk of falling decreases in leaps and bounds. Now that winter is transitioning into spring, it’s time to open our awareness toward new horizons. Here are three exercises to help you see in all directions!

Bear Hibernate

1) Hold a chair or touch down to the earth.
2) Squat deeper and deeper. Bend your knees, round your bottom, curl your lips toward the heart.
3) Find your center of balance, just like a bear hibernating. Feel your heart beat growing stronger and stronger, ready for spring!


Spring Bulb

1) From your Bear Squat, bring your thumb tips together and pinky finger tips together like a flower bulb.
2) Grow your reach up above your head and feel your breath flourishing. Maintain your connection to the earth by swaying your balance side to side, while gazing sky high.


New Horizons Twist

1) Bring your Flower Bulb gesture down to your heart, and draw your right heel up to your left ankle. Point your right toes toward the right.
2) Zig zag your sight line toward the right.  As your gaze continues to find new horizons toward the right, you effectively are twisting all winter limitations out of your person. The more you see over your shoulder, the better your balance will become.
3) Repeat toward the left hand side.


Charlie Higgins is a graduate of Reed College and a certified yoga instructor. Charlie specializes in yoga for retirees, and his classes focus on range-of-motion, peripheral awareness, balance and breathing. As a guest author for Milestone Retirement, Charlie is excited to share fun, safe and easy tips for senior health & wellness.  To learn more, or explore more exercises by Charlie, visit his website: