Sunday, September 12, 2010

Balance is a verb!

“Having balance” and “getting balance” are often mentioned as people express a desire to be less stressed. We speak as if it’s a level to achieve or characteristic to develop. Balance is also a verb—an action word. It’s something you do. Life balance is about balancing the various aspects of your life. It isn’t a place to get to or a state to achieve but rather a practice to develop through experience and knowledge.

Thinking about balance as a verb, I saw a beautiful photo of my friend, Debbie Barnett skillfully balancing in a Yoga pose. (www.TheYogaWoman.com) Looking at the photo made me feel relaxed and peaceful. Debbie, a Yogini and owner of Conscious Flow, Inc. graciously agreed to allow me to use her photo for my newsletter.

The pose, called “Dancer Pose” or “Natarajasana Pose,” is done by balancing on one leg while extending the other up high in the air behind you, bending the knee, taking the foot of the extended leg in the hand and extending the opposite hand forward. Bringing your torso forward, you balance on one foot with the other foot and arms in the air.

Balancing on one foot engages the whole body. It requires balance, strength, focus and flexibility. Life calls for balancing multiple elements. It takes physical strength and energy for various activities and mental strength to make good decisions about how to spend your time and energy. It takes the focus of knowing what elements you want to balance in your life and being crystal clear on how you prioritize them. It takes flexibility to adapt to circumstances and change plans without changing direction.

Dancer Pose looked more like Danger Pose in my mirror as I gave it a try. It’s supposed to be peaceful, graceful and elegant. Parallel to the floor was about as high as I could extend my leg. Still I was pleased that I could even hold my foot with my hand reaching back. I pointed the other hand forward; well sort of forward as I held onto the counter to steady myself. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. I counted to three before my standing leg began to wobble and my face plunged toward the floor. My extended foot and hand went out rather than higher into the air. Apparently falling also engages the entire body!

Balancing improves balance! In addition to strengthening the legs and stretching the shoulders, one of the listed benefits of Dancer Pose is improved balance. Debbie can hold this pose gracefully and steady with leg and arms high in the air for a long time. Why? Practice! Debbie has been practicing yoga for thirty years. She appears peaceful and relaxed even in the most advanced poses. The more you practice balance the better you are at balancing.

Just as a practice such as Yoga helps your body to work in harmony to strengthen, stretch, relax, reduce stress and improve balance; practicing life balance can bring elements of your life into harmony and allow you to juggle work, family, health, recreation and social life with less strain and fatigue and more strength, relaxation and joy. With focus and practice you can even make it look easy!