Monthly Archives: October 2010

Balance vs. Balanced

Several incidents came together recently to remind me of the difference between  “balance” and “balanced.”

1. Reading Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis

“… there are three systems that people use to maintain balance: (1) the inner ear gives a sense of acceleration in any dimension,  (2) cutaneous and proprioceptive* information relating to floor forces come from the feet and ankles, and (3) visual data reveals our position and any chnage in it relative to our environment.”

2. Teaching an osteoporosis prevention class where all participants (and instructors) are required to wear shoes.

Although I was able to do the balance poses while wearing shoes – a new experience – I felt like I was missing a lot of crucial data. I was substituting equipment for actual balance.

3. Explaining to a student why yoga is done barefoot.

4. Overhearing a student (not mine) say that he likes to do Tree Pose wearing heavy work boots.


  • A child’s stack of blocks may be “balanced” but the block are not actively doing the balancing.
  • Removing sensory (proprioceptive) input, wearing boots or shoes, may make it easier to be balanced but harder to balance.
  • Keeping your balance requires active practice.

* Proprioception – meaning “one’s own” and perception, is the of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body. (

For additional information on proprioception:

What happened to yoga?

What Happened to Yoga?

Last week, The Boston Globe featured a long article on the of yoga in the U.S.

From left: Justine Wiltshire Cohen, Natasha Rizopoulos, Patricia Walden, Barbara Benagh, and Peentz Dubble of Down Under Yoga. (Globe photo / Essdras M Suarez)

In the article, a panel of senior teachers discussed the commercialism and distractions that are creeping into American yoga. Read the full article.

  • Is yoga losing its focus?
  • Has it become too commercialized – with expensive yogawear and nonessential accessories?
  • Is it about shopping?
  • Is there too much focus on yoga as an exercise system (like aerobics) and too little on the full content of yoga – the other seven limbs?
  • Has branding of specific styles of new yoga hurt yoga?

What do you think?

On Sunday, October 17, Down Under Yoga in Newtonville hosted a panel discussion called “Balancing Acts: Poses, Products, and the Future of Yoga in America.”

Read the full article