Life: lessons in balance.

Length is the key to this pose.
Arm balances are phenomenal for strength development. Place a rolled up towel under the wrists if the pose is too challenging for them.

Life is about balance. We can work to balance our inner selves with the outer elements that constantly engage us during our lifetime. As a yoga instructor, personal trainer and writer, I truly believe that living our lives with awareness can bring the goal of inner balance well within our reach. Every day activities provide insight into our ‘state of balance’, the maintaining of stability and equilibrium while engaging in various activities. Feel the movement, the physical interplay of muscular relaxation and contraction in response to gravity, of your body while standing in place or performing a physical act. Experience the challenge of communicating, conveying thoughts and ideas to others in an understandable verbal fashion, your point of view to someone or them communicating their point of view to you. Give attention to the fullness, shortness or inconsistency of your breathing, the process of exhaling fully and inhaling responsively. We can, by striving toward and maintaining balance in these activities, positively affect our daily lives.

core stability and joint stabilization
This pose enforces the joint stabilization and limb extension necessary for downward facing dog.
Movement is part and parcel of our bodies. Actions such as standing, walking, twisting, lifting, pulling, pushing, running, and carrying create bodily imbalance. Unless the body is stable during the course of these actions we might topple over or, worse, injure ourselves. Mechanisms within the body adjust for imbalances automatically and we don’t have to think about how we do things. Unfortunately, for the most part, we don’t think about how we perform many of these actions, some of which are repetitive in nature. This can lead to physical imbalance. For example, a task, such as loading / unloading packages in one direction or twisting repeatedly in one direction to complete a task while seated. Not to fear as these situations can be reversed: we can bring the body back into balance. By taking time to perform a sustained twist in the opposite direction or by strengthening our back muscles and strengthening our core, we can return our bodies, in these two situations, to a more stable base.

Comminication
Communication . . . it is a big part living in society.
Communication is important in that it is the vehicle through which we interact with others in society. Without communication, human interaction would basically be reduced to pointing, grunting and grabbing. Balance, in communication, involves mentally coordinating give and take interactions. The formal process goes like this:

  1. You form an idea and communicate that idea to someone
  2. That person receives the idea and processes it
  3. That person communicates a response to you and you process that response
  4. You then respond in kind to the response that was communicated to you

The process intensifies when another person, place or thing, which is viewed from opposite perspectives by the communicators, is the focus of discussion. Regarding the interposing of external objects into the discussion, the balanced exchange of ideas will result in either an amicable agreeing upon the course of action or an intended outcome or one of the parties will convince themselves to alter their point of view. Achieving balanced communication is not always easy but, with compassionate patience, passionate persistence and sufficient compromise, it can happen.

Where are my hands???
Backbends facilitate deeper breathing by opening up the chest and shoulder areas.
Breathing is important on many levels. It supports our physical efforts and is important in the process of speaking. Most importantly, it is how that the body brings in the oxygen that serves as a fuel source in the liberation of food energy for our bodies. Breathing is something that the body does without our thinking about it but the body will only bring in as much oxygen/energy as is needed. The total lung capacity of the average male is about 1.5 gallons; that of an average woman is about 1.1 gallons. That same average male, or average female, is doing well to utilize 8 ounces (1/16 of a gallon) of that total lung capacity in order to sustain themselves. If they were to breathe more fully, with emphasis on complete exhalations, the number of breaths taken, the average is 16 to 30 breaths per minute, would be less. The blood would receive more oxygen and generate the necessary amount of carbon dioxide needed to maintain proper blood pH levels. In addition, the body would more effectively expel metabolic waste products; approximately 70% of metabolic waste is expelled during breathing. Not only is complete breathing good for the body and the mind, it also brings into balance the energies within us and around us.

Balance in daily life encompasses our physical actions, our communication and our breathing. Balancing physical actions establishes a healthy and more functional body. Exercise, rest, complementary movement can help us in maintaining our physical balance. Balance in communication can reduce stress and conflict. It produces more harmonious interactions between people. Balancing the breath is good for the body, the mind and establishes a holistic equilibrium between ourselves and our surroundings. Our lives, which are expressed through our daily activities, are a reflection of our state of balance.

Physical Actions:

If you stand during the day, lay on your back and put your feet up on the wall (not recommended for those with high blood pressure or abdominal problems). If you sit all day, stand up and do a couple of standing back bends.

Communicating:

Express your ideas clearly and confidently. Listen with compassion. Realize that it is sometimes better to agree to disagree.

Breathing:

Take a short verse from a song, the Lord’s Prayer, the Gayatri Mantra or whatever resonates with you. After a deep inhalation, repeat your _ _ _ _ _ _ _ as many times as you can before running out of breath. After another couple of breaths repeat the process.

Life is an invaluable teacher and can teach us about balance. By balancing our actions, speech and breathing, we create a more wholesome internal environment for ourselves. The balanced state of our internal environment makes for a more pleasant experience when dealing with the external world.

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