Keeping your eyes closed in certain positions strengthens your balance and proprioception, the body’s subconscious ability to know where it is and how it’s moving in space.
When you walk, bend over, or simply stand on two legs, you’re able to stay upright because of three systems: your vision, the sensors in your inner ears, and the somatosensory system that processes things like pain and pressure, explains Lauren Kanski, Tier 3+ trainer at Sports Club Columbus Avenue in New York City.
Stand on one leg with your eyes closed, and you’ll probably wobble more than you would if they were open. That’s because when you lose spacial awareness, the other senses need to work harder to keep you upright. Those strengthened senses will then improve your balance during open-eye exercises like single-leg deadlifts or while moving through yoga flows, Kanski explains.
Only shut your eyes during static, unloaded balancing positions like tree pose or isometric squats rather than weighted or moving ones, she says. As soon as your lids close, focus on your breath and your other systems will naturally get stronger. Kanski recommends you practice this for about five to 10 minutes before a training session or make it a regular part of balancing sequences in yoga. “The more you do it, the faster you’ll pick it up,” she adds.