How balanced are you?
There are many layers to the concept of balance and stillness or steadiness is often associated with balance. Quite the opposite is true; balance is a very active state of being.
Stand on one foot for a moment and feel all of the little muscles in your foot and ankle working to stabilize you. There is a lot of movement happening and the same is true in life. Balance requires regular reevaluation and the ability to course correct as you go.
The 9th definition of balance from Merriam Webster is mental and emotional steadiness and this rings true. Amidst the hustle and stress of contemporary living, time to unwind and simply be is very rejuvenating. Working on physical balance quiets the mind and requires focus, which naturally shifts the energy into a more quiet and relaxed state.
Prescription for Balance:
1) Allow yourself a few minutes of quiet time each day as a way to practice balance, believe it or not even five minutes can make a big difference.
2) Try doing a mundane task on one foot, such as washing dishes or brushing your teeth. You’d be surprised how much stronger your balance will become from a few moments a day.
One way to sustain health for the spine and hips is to keep the psoas in a balanced state. From sitting at the desk while working and driving, most people allow their spines to move into flexion (a bent forward position) and their pelvis’ to move into a posterior tilt (tucked under). As a result, the muscles that surround the spine become weak (by being held in a stretched position) and the hips become tight (due to the hip flexors being engaged).
The psoas also plays a key role in stabilizing the spine and this makes sense because has it’s origin point on the spine. Common belief amongst fitness professionals is that the psoas functions primarily as a hip flexor, but there is research that suggests it’s role is to connect the torso with the legs, act as a stabilizer of the spine, pelvis and hips during movement, and to decelerate the trunk and hip during walking.
Here is one way to test and see if your psoas is healthy and functioning properly.
Lie on your back with one knee bent and one leg straight. Engage your core and then allow the bent knee to open out to the side slowly. If you notice that the opposite hip goes with it, then this is a sign that there is some dysfunction.
One exercise to strengthen this area is to lift your feet into the air in a bent position with flexed feet so that your knees align vertically on top of your hips. Then place your hands on the outside of your thighs and push outward into your hands gently. While maintaining an active core and engaged legs, breathe fully and deeply into the area right below your belly button for 5-8 full breaths. Make sure that your hip flexors are relaxed as you perform this movement. Strengthening your psoas will help prevent lower back pain and keep you in proper spinal alignment.
Photo Credit: Alexa Miller
Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
There is a lot of talk about self-love in the world today and for a long time I thought that loving myself was another thing to work at and make happen. The truth is that when there are no blocks against it love flows naturally. So, it is a removing of barriers that is the work at hand.
It is the same with fitness. The body loves to be strong, flexible and agile. It is the burning away of excuses and habitual procrastination that prevents people from accessing their optimal state of health. Once the blocks start to be removed and a commitment of regular time and attention is made to being physically fit, it is amazing how well the body responds. Taking care of the body is one of the most loving acts imaginable – for with a healthy body all other goals and dreams become possible. Keep it moving!
photo credit Alexa Miller