I’d like to introduce you to the concept of “intrinsic equilibrium”.

This is the principle that your body’s many systems and its underlying musculature have their own innate perfection and connection.

They are designed to be in perfect balance and work in harmony.

So, truly, you are the pinnacle of perfection! So why don’t you feel that way?!

What happens to this perfection?

But… but… what happens is that habits develop. Habits of movement and sitting. Habitual thoughts which give us strong messages about our body.

And this innate perfection gets knocked off kilter.

OK, so let’s go back to the beginning.

Your body is designed to work optimally.

Think about the amazing engineering of the spine which is designed to move.  How the weight of the head is delicately balanced on top of our body yet we can still stand and move about with grace and not keep wobbling over, pulled over by the weight of our skull and brain like a weeble.

Notice the delicate inward curve of the lower spine which distributes our weight and centre of gravity enabling us to walk and run on two legs.

Think of how the ribs, lungs and breathing muscles work together, along with the brain and nervous system to enable us to breathe constantly. Breathing the old air out. Letting the new air come in each and every moment of our life without needing to think about it.

Then think about what happens next.

We start to sit for long periods when we go to school.  Young children naturally want to move around, so, from a young age we start to restrict the body’s natural urge to move. We sit at school then college all day. Then we often sit at a desk when we move into work. We sit on sofas. We sit and stare at screens.

All this sitting knocks the delicate equilibrium of the body’s musculature out of balance.

And when we sit we tend to breathe shallowly, limiting the movement of the muscles of our breathing system.

So this unconscious, habitual activity of our postural and breathing musculature obstructs the body’s intrinsic equilibrium. And we end up with stiff joints, sore backs, feeling tired, trapped and lacking in energy.

Yoga releases and reveals

Gosh, I don’t know about you, but all this thinking about sitting makes we want to stretch and shake out the tension!

So, yoga helps us release these habits to rediscover ease in our body.

But please don’t think you need to “correct” your posture. Or “correct” the way you move.

Let your physical yoga practice reveal to you your body’s innate wisdom.

First notice where you’re holding habitual tensions.

Notice which areas feel tight. Which areas feel more open and begin to make connections between the two. E.g. tight hips can lead to knee pain because the knees compensate for lack of mobility in the hip area. Or tight hips can lead to lower back pain too as the body’s need to move transfers upwards and too much motion goes into the lower back.

Then, slowly allow yourself to release – not correct – these places of tightness or imbalance.  It’s a subtle shift in mindset. Try not to think of your body as your enemy if it’s causing discomfort or pain. Be gentle and allow the tightness and tension you’ve developed through habit to release.

Enable your body to return to its innate sense of balance.

My experience

I’ll give myself as an example.  In my early teens I started to slouch and round my shoulders.

People used to tell me to “sit up straight” or “pull my shoulders back”. So I spent the next 25 years or so doing just that. Pulling my shoulders back.  And I became very good at that. To the point where I’d pulled myself out of balance and over-tightened the muscles around my mid-spine and was habitually putting too much pressure where my thoracic (mid) spine meets my lumbar (lower) spine leading to pain and discomfort.

My mind had kept on telling me that I was round-shouldered and created the habit of over-straightening. What was a useful instruction initially became an ingrained habit which knocked me out of intrinsic equilibrium.

Energy restored!

And you know what? All this habitual, unconscious holding of the body takes up a lot of energy.  It’s tiring.

So that release of energy you feel during / after your yoga practice is your body realigning and making available the energy you’d previously been using to hold those habits in your body.

So the more regularly we practise yoga the more trapped energy we release and the more our sense of wellbeing increases.

And the deep, conscious breathing we practise in yoga helps further to release bodily tensions that hinder / obstruct our body’s expression of its innate balance.

Yoga makes available stores of energy which had hitherto remained trapped.

So move your body mindfully and breathe deeply every day to rejuvenate your body and mind!

Perfect Balance Meditation

Try this meditation to tap into a sense of inner balance and equilibrium:

  1. Adopt a relaxed yet alert standing position with your spine aligned and upright.
  2. Focus on the way your spine lengthens and expands as you breathe in, and how it relaxes and softens in a subtle wavelike movement as you breathe out.
  3. Breathe in and imagine you are drawing light in through the crown of your head and down into your heart.
  4. Breathe out from your heart, visualising the light flowing down through your body, your legs and feet and into the earth.
  5. Breathe in and draw the light back up from the earth and into your heart.
  6. Breathe out, taking the light up from your heart and out through your crown.
    – with each breath feel yourself filling up with light and joy.
  7. Continue breathing in this rhythm for as along as you feel comfortable.

AFFIRM: I am balanced. I am centred. My body, mind and spirit are one.

{Adapted from the Dru book: The Dance Between Joy and Pain}

You are perfectly balanced. So why doesn’t it feel that way?
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