Although this quote is about yoga and skiing, its insights on balance are equally true for all of the balances we maintain in our lives.
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. (Wikipedia.org)
For additional information on proprioception:
- International Association of Dance Medicine and Science
Beginner’s simple strength boosting exercises
From Harvard Medical School HEALTHbeat May 18, 2010
These exercises are from the new 2010 edition of Strength and Power Training: A guide for adults of all ages.
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A sturdy chair with armrests and athletic shoes with non-skid soles are all you need for these simple strength building exercises.
Sit slightly forward in a chair with your hands on the armrests. Your feet should be flat on the floor and slightly apart, and your upper body should be upright (don’t lean forward). Using your arms for balance only, slowly raise your buttocks off the chair until nearly standing with your knees bent. Pause. Slowly sit back down. Aim for 8–12 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set.
Put a chair with armrests up against a wall. Sit in the chair and put your feet together flat on the floor. Lean forward a bit while keeping your shoulders and back straight. Bend your elbows and place your hands on the armrests of the chair, so they are in line with your torso. Pressing downward on your hands, try to lift yourself up a few inches by straightening out your arms. Raise your upper body and thighs, but keep your feet in contact with the floor. Pause. Slowly release until you’re sitting back down again. Aim for 8–12 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set.
Standing calf raise
Stand with your feet flat on the floor. Hold onto the back of your chair for balance. Raise yourself up on tiptoe, as high as possible. Hold briefly, then lower yourself. Aim for 8–12 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set.
For more information visit Harvard School of Medicine’s Special Health Reports.