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The Importance of Balance

The Importance of Balance

Whether in a yoga class, on a stability ball or walking to work, maintaining balance is the key to functional movements (functional movements are movements based on real-world situations). Balance is the foundation of all movements, regardless of whether strength, speed, flexibility or endurance dominates the movement.

Maintenance of postural equilibrium (or balance) is essential for your bodies ability to generate force. This force is required not just for athletic performance, but also for everyday 'functional' jobs such as walking up an down the stairs, running after the kids, or jumping into a handstand on a monday night at 8pm 😆

Poor balance can create a pattern in your body whereby some muscles are more dominant that others. This is known as Muscle Imbalance. Muscle imbalances creates altered length-tension relationships within the body. This means that the balance of strength and flexibility around the joints has been compromised. This is one of the main issues related to poor physical health.

Yoga asana (poses) should be approached as a system to address balance. Or more appropriately, as a system to address imbalance. When you approach your asana practise this way, your mind opens up to more possibilities as you are not restricting yourself to poses where you just feel a 'stretch'. Think of flexibility and strength as a byproduct of balance training.

The following is excerpted from B.K.S Iyengar's Light On Life.

Balance: Evenness Is Harmony

Through yoga one can begin to develop a perfect balance between both sides of the body. All of us begin with imbalances, favouring one side or the other. When one side is more active than the other, the active side must become the guru for the inactive side to make it equally active. To the weaker side, we must apply attention. We must also show more care. We show keener interest to improve a dull and struggling friend than for an eager and intelligent one. In the same way you have to show yourself this same compassion and act on the weaker side of the body while taking pleasure in the achievement of the active side.

Precision in action comes when the challenge by one side of the body is met by an equal counter-challenge of the other. This ignites the light of knowledge. You must keep your balance by using the intelligence of the body (whether instinct, feeling, or ability) but not by strength. When you keep the balance by strength, it is physical action; when by intelligence of the body, it is relaxation in action. Evenness is harmony, and in that evenness alone you learn.

Seek balance of awareness in all positions by observing the differences on the right and left as well as the intensity of stretch from plane to plane, limb to limb, muscle to muscle, joint to joint, and from bottom to top, side to side, and back to front. Create equal stretch, equal stability, equal spacing, and equal intensity of movement. To bring a part of the body in correct alignment, you have to work with the whole body. You have to work with each and every part of the body. For each asana or pranayama, you have to know what the function or state of each area and each part of the body should be, whether active or passive, stable or mobile. When performing asanas, no part of the body should be idle, no part should be neglected.

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