Balance and your body

What is Balance?

Is it something that some people are born with while unfortunate others must do without? Is it a trick to be learned? Is it all in the mind? Is it some magical, mystical thing to acquire from somewhere, to have until it disappears again?

 It is true that many people will never know balance. And yes, it is a “trick”, but the trick is not an illusion. The trick is simply learning how to attain a loose, flexible body and then how to use it. To those with tight, inflexible bodies balance will indeed seem magical and mystical, and it will flee from any but those with an awareness of joint mobility and body mechanics and who possess loose, flexible bodies.

 From my many years working with hundreds of clients in the context of Structural Release Realignment Therapy / EvolutionHealth® bodywork focusing on the realignment of the body through myofascial / muscular release and movement reorientation, and in training students in the obscure art of tightrope walking, I have come to a few undisputable conclusions about balance.

 For most people, the body is “worn” and experienced as a single unit with very few moving parts. Used in this way, where one part leads so the rest must follow, there is no chance of the body experiencing balance. A better image to use is a rag doll marionette with body parts held loosely together with string and no part tightly connected to any other part.

 To illustrate: stand up, and holding your body rigid and stiff (easier for some than for others!), lift one of your legs out to the side as far as you can and observe the result. Did you begin to lose your balance from this simple movement? You did unless you unconsciously loosened up a few parts of your rigid body! Otherwise you would have lost your balance immediately.

Now, to the degree possible at this point, imagine and feel that each of your legs and arms and your head are individual units separate from your torso, able to swivel and swing on hinges in any direction with ease, rather like our marionette (or a Skeleton!). Add to that the ability of your ribcage to move separately from your pelvis in any direction and for your shoulder girdle to move independently from your ribcage. Last of all imagine a golden egg sitting in the bowl of your pelvis, the narrow end extending up into the cavity under your lower ribs. This egg will be your center, a swivel point like the hub of a wheel which remains stationary even as the wheel itself spins.

Run all of your separate parts through their ranges of motion so you are aware of your possibilities and try the same test again, with your standing leg slightly flexed and springy (taking advantage of joints) and all movable parts brought into play. Observe the different experience and results this time. Observe the beginnings of “balance”!

*One thing to remember, contemplate, and integrate is the fact that balance is not a static phenomenon. Even though you may like to imagine that someone Balancing is still and immobile, there is much shifting and many adjustments being made moment to moment. These changes may start out radical and blatant, becoming more and more subtle until it appears as though a state of motionless balance has been achieved, but believe me when I tell you that balance is always analogous with flux. 

What I find especially exciting is that it is possible to use the dynamics of balance to restructure the body on fascial, skeletal, and neuromuscular levels. It’s impossible not to affect the body on these levels as you introduce the challenge of physical balancing into the environment. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that the use of balance is the most effective way to rewire the body, to achieve proper posture and alignment, and to achieve the sense of “let go” in relation to tension and holding patterns in the body.

Equally exciting and desirable is that there is a calming of the emotional self which occurs in the process of this physical restructuring. Every moment spent experiencing balance in a challenging situation (such as on a Rope or a Balancer (see the essay on Self-Maintenance Tools) triggers personal evolution. The quickest, easiest, and most efficient preparation for working on your balance is the practice of the Flextasy Functional Flexibility System®.           

Flextasy® brings awareness to and physically mobilizes the hinges and joints of your body and the movements decompress your dense tissue. It teaches experientially the concepts needed to understand body mechanics, how your skeleton is supposed to be able to move. Achieving balance depends on all of these.

As your work with Flextasy® continues, you’ll find your clumsiness disappearing and your movements becoming more fluid, along with the subsequent emergence of grace, poise, agility, and balance. Becoming aware of the dynamic interplay between the diaphragm and pelvic hinges increases your awakening balance, which is inherent in every body. It makes something as daring and exotic as tightrope walking entirely possible, and with a skill like this comes a complete shattering of the worn-out self-images of your prior self. As a bonus, when you learn how to manifest physical balance, emotional balance becomes more feasible to you as a concept, and as a reality within your grasp as well.

I'll mention here too that every moment you spend bouncing, jogging, dancing, or even simply standing, on a Rebounder (mini-trampoline) is some of the very best "balance-work" you'll ever do.

Moral of the Story                          
The metaphor and reality of Balance is relevant, and rewarding, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I recommend working on your balance every chance you get.