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Create Balance by Staying Nimble

What is balance? We use the word both as a noun and a verb. You maintain a balance in your checking account while you struggle to balance work and family. But when it comes to your body, balance is both a noun and a verb. Is balance only physical? The answer is no. You will find that maintaining balance is a multilayered journey from your physical body to your innermost self.

Like an onion you have many layers, with each being connected from your outer body to your core. In recent years, science has begun to recognize the powerful connection between mental and physical health. A number of recent studies suggest that the balance and coordination exercises that keep you physically nimble may also keep you mentally nimble as well. Maintaining physical balance is especially important as you age because balance helps you avoid falls. One out of every five falls causes serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury.

Where to begin? First, safely access your physical balance. Try standing at the kitchen counter with your right hip toward the counter (stand up straight, pull your shoulder blades together, and make sure that your ears are over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips). With your right hand on the counter, try lifting your left leg. Can you hold your foot off the floor and maintain your balance for five breaths? (Each breath is one inhalation and exhalation.) If you struggled a bit, no problem — try gazing at a point on the floor 10 to 15 feet in front of you and try holding up your leg up for only two breaths. If this is just too easy, try not holding the counter and lift your leg higher, pull your knee into your chest, and raise your arms overhead. Do only what you feel comfortable doing, but push yourself a bit.

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