Improving Balance – Not Just Standing on One Leg

Peggy Protz, Feldenkrais® Practitioner

What comes to mind when you think of balance? Perhaps it’s your ability to stand on one leg for a length of time, or the fact you don’t trip or fall when stepping off a curb or running to catch the bus. Actually, the simple fact you don’t fall over when just standing still is testament to the fact that the balance system in your body is working. It’s when you ask your body to do more intensive activities – various sports, dance, or yoga – that your balance is challenged. By taking the time to enhance your body’s balance system, even in the simplest of activities, you’ll be able to perform the more intensive ones with a lot more ease and skill, and a whole lot less effort.

The Feldenkrais approach to balance is unique in that it takes what you do when you are upright and moving around and works with it while you are lying down. In this situation there is no danger of falling over (you’re already lying down so there is no where to fall to) and habitual tensions that help you stand upright, many of which you aren’t even aware of, have a better chance of letting go. From here we can introduce and explore various innovative movements designed to stimulate your balance system. When you stand up afterward your body’s in a different place and you have a different experience of how to balance yourself. Often, this new experience, in itself, is all it takes for your balance to improve. As we consciously apply the new experience to simple activities, however, like walking and yes, even the feat of standing on one leg, the learning is further enhanced. Then, the next time you go to play your favorite sport, or go dancing, or run to catch the bus, your balance system will be working well in the background, so YOU can be paying attention to other things.

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