by Alexandra Papazian
Balance is a term that gets thrown around a lot, especially when discussing the metrics of our daily lives. We often count our successes but just can’t seem to find a number satisfying enough. Many tend to think of life as a balancing act where we learn how to juggle the various demands of our time and attention. Unfortunately, this way of thinking makes finding balance seem like an impossible task, a perpetually out-of-reach place. There are so many things to do and so little time and how can one person do everything that they want to do because I need to be everywhere all at once…
In reality, balance is more like a continuum and less a specific destination. Balance is subjective, determined by the events of the day, the hour, the minute. Due to the constantly changing presence of life, thinking of balance as some fixed achievement is actually defeatist. Instead, we should think about conceptualizing balance as an active spirit. When we feel out of balance, we can adjust and make fine-tuned changes to get back on track. Thinking in this manner also allows us to accept that balance is never a constant. It is a process that we fall in and out of and to which we learn to adapt.
This theory not only applies to the balance of life, but also to balance as a physical skill. Again, balance is not a place where there are no wobbles or struggle but a process by which one feels and accepts the waves as they come, adapting to the many unique challenges as they occur. It is not about holding your breath and tensing all your muscles and hoping by some miracle you get lucky and don’t fall over. It’s about accepting your body where it is in the moment and working on your challenges one by one. This way, balance does not seem like a huge, insurmountable task but one that can be constantly achieved one small step at a time.
As someone who is a full-time student, works two jobs, teaches in Goodyear, and dances in the few hours of spare time I have left, balance is an extremely important part of my life. I find that I am more successful, and happier overall, when I think of my balance (both in my life and in my body) as a continuum. It allows me to have a clearer picture of how everything fits together and how changes in one area affect everything else. When something throws me off, I know that I have the power to adjust and re-center.
One way I try to balance my life and body is by releasing my psoas. The psoas is the muscle that connects the upper and lower halves of your body. From its attachments on the spine, it crosses through the body and attaches to the inside of the femur head, and it is often a muscle that carries a lot of stress. My favorite way to release the psoas is to lay supine and bolster my upper back with a yoga bolster (a stack of pillows would do as well) with a small pillow/support under my neck. Once set up, I extend my legs long in front of me on the floor and allow my thoracic spine to sink towards the floor as I lay in this position. I stay here quietly and mindfully for between 15 to 30 minutes and focus on releasing all muscle tension in my body. This helps me to focus my intentions, re-center my mind and move closer towards balance in my body and my life.