The statement " Balance is the key to life" sounds so much easier than it is to achieve, wouldn't you agree?
It's often said flippantly and most agree it's true,,,, yet balance seems to be the one component of fitness and in life that we are all needing more of. Some of us are always striving and feeling like "once I get there..." and others are "grasping to hang on to it." Feeling balanced in life is such a huge quest! Starting with the body, and branching out from there is one way in to being more balanced.
It's interesting to watch how different people relate to balance. From a simple standing on one foot "test" some people over re-act to each impulse the body sends, jerking back and forth to only over shoot center. Other people over tighten and harden there bodies, locking their jaws and tightening up through chest and shoulders as they feel "centered" but are actually not very sustainable in that balance posture. Another common example is appearing unbalanced with a hip hiked up and a shoulder dropped and yet in that awkwardness balance happening. In Yoga there are many postures designed to challenge balance in different ways, stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the loose ones. The standing on one leg is called "Standing Tree" pose, and for me every time I do it I have a new experience. I can feel mentally that I am balanced and yet once I go into the posture I can be any combination of the above. Sometimes it's a test of patience, other times focus, and other times it's something happening in my legs that needs constant adjusting. I also face my discomfort, pain, or resistance to being in the posture and find whatever tools ( whether mental or physical like breath) I can to support me on any day. So now it's your turn.....Right now, take this pose and use it as a metaphor for balance right now. As you hold it for 1 minute at least notice what comes up for you? Is there an emotion? What sensations pulse? What are you experiencing?
In traditional training there are always new tools developed to challenge this balance like stability balls, balance boards and rollers. In Kai we look at balance more dynamically as the way you arrange your bones and shift to transfer weight as well as how you face different directions and orient in space/time, balance of awareness ( say for example awareness of your back, what's behind you that you cannot see?), moving the head and eyes to play with body weight, and the balance of mind/body/spirit/emotion and tending to these. From a life perspective I look at balance as how well do I manage my own personal health ( fitness, nutrition, sleep, sex) with parenthood, house, career, finances, social, and more. It's ALOT to balance!!!! And yet, when it comes to starting on one leg and just taking the time to check in .......it all begins from there. Please feel welcome to comment below about your experience!!! I'd love to hear and please share YOUR tips on balance.
Here is what I have learned about balance that you might find helpful:
1. Balance is not a static place. Balancing is constantly working with what is happening and returning to that sensation of center.....it's a practice that over time one can shorten the time "off" center and return to balance with less effort.
2. Balance is absolutely dependent on the mind staying as still as possible.
3. Balance is NOT a perfect alignment on the outside. Though our bodies appear to be two mirrored sides of each other if you cut down the center "line", we are actually designed with slight "imbalances" or imperfections that help the body to create a flow when we move. Trying to constantly create "perfection" in what APPEARS balance is a path out of balance.
4. Balance is a sensation that's positive. There is energy available to do the things we want, we feel optimistic, the bodys' tensions are in harmony. It is NOT stagnant.
5. Balance is a journey , not a destination. Sometimes I have to purposely throw myself "off" balance either in my nutrition, or how I use my time, or in something I do out of the "normal" just to notice where I am gripping for balance and not really in balance. I also do this in Kai.......going "off"center to find my center.
6. Balance requires self care, and ALSO must be challenged to expand capacity.
7. Balanced is a learned skill, we aren't born "balanced". As I grow in my CAPACTIY, I fall "off center" more easily until the new skills are settling in.
8. Balance is the container for my mind/emotions/spirit.
9. How on/off balance I am effects everything around me.
10. Balance is a key to sustainability.