I write from my heart…
Salutations, fellow beautiful beings.
I thought y’all should know that I tipped and toppled over like a Giant Jenga. It was glorious…gloriously astounding in how anyone could fall so klumsily. There I was in the middle of the dance floor entirely too focused on nailing an off-body trick which entailed passing the hoop around my leg while holding a position which can only be described as something in between an “arabesque” and a “Balancing Stick Pose,” a personal favorite of Yoga postures. So it came to pass that I was on the floor, frustrated, impatient and my feet looked raw and pathetic. In those moments, I had lost my balance, physically, mentally and spiritually. I glanced over at the hoop and asked myself, “Where am I going wrong?”
I find no enjoyment in living with negative, ego-driven energy, therefore, I am here today to work through that question by dissecting “balance” in the contexts of how it’s defined in Exercise Science. For example, how can we maintain awareness of our center of gravity? Furthermore, I would like to develop my understanding of “balance” from mental and spiritual standpoints. I emphasize “my understanding” naturally because I can only speak for myself in such subjective matters. I’d like to reiterate that I am a Certified Personal Trainer, however, I am NOT a Psychologist, Psychiastrist or Spiritual Guide. I’m only me.
So, I’ll begin with this: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT ADVICE FOR HOOPERS #3: Keep your balance! In the area of Exercise Science, “balance” is defined as, “the ability to maintain position over its base of support with stability limits, both statically and dynamically.” ( ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals, pg. 273). Okay, “base of support” meaning the distance between the feet. Now, “balance” is affected by one’s “center of gravity,” which is, well, exactly that- it’s the central space in YOU where weight is evenly distributed. You can find your “COG” in the vicinity of your second sacral vertebra, generally. However, every body is unique. “To maintain balance without moving, a person’s line of gravity must fall within the base of support…A large, wide base of support is more stable than a small, narrow one” (ACE, pg. 115). I cannot emphasize enough how important “balance training” is to an individual’s health and wellness program. I incorporate various “balance-specific” exercises into every client’s program, every session, such as balance beam footwork, flamingo stands, BOSU squats and calf raises on wobble pads. I, myself, make it a point to practice Single Leg RDLs during my personal sessions. I’ll admit that they’re certainly not the most revered of exercises I’ve implemented in programs. In fact, I consider them to be the most challenging! Still, we must we train our bodies to keep neutral and symmetrical alignment. Falling down ain’t fun. I expound on this in “Give Posture a Chance.” Furthermore, “balance training” requires a certain amount of focus and composure that can be quite difficult to grasp sometimes. Quieting the mind and directing the breath is simple, but not easy….
Before I roll into the next stream of thoughts, I want to mention that I realize that I have not been very kind to myself during my personal hoop practice, lately
I lost my balance, fell and immediately reacted negatively. I didn’t consider the fact that I have been training/dancing barefoot for only a brief period of time, maybe 3 months. The foot has 28 bones, 36 muscles and 56 ligaments. So yes, it’s going to take time to build strength and balance naturally. WOOT! Victory jig for reaching realizations!
What do you feel like when you’ve reached a state of equilibrium in your mind and spirit? Do you experience this state often? What does it take to get you there? How long can you hold onto it? Do you intellectualize your “balance” or do you allow yourself to be enveloped in it?
“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”- Rumi
“The six best doctors: Sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet.” – Wayne Fields
I am able to apply the Rumi quote into my all my affairs when I make time to be inside my hoop, daily. Yes, every day. There have been many occasions when I have reached for my hoop desperately seeking the opportunity regain my spiritual and mental serenity, for a time to Let Go of all external forces that operate outside of my control, not to mention a reprieve from spreading myself too thin by saying “Yes” to every project, favor or challenge. When I’m in Flow-mode, the cacophonous expectations, the “shoulds,” cease to exist. Only my intuition remains, and the music, of course. And I hold on to that balance.
Finally, HALT!!! Are you: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired? I learned this acronym from an incredibly wise owl during alcohol addiction therapy, and it has made a substantial difference in how I maintain my mental attention and balance. I realize there’s so much more involved in achieving mental balance/stability; like our bodies, our minds are unique, also. Chowing down on shrimp fajitas, punching a heavy bag, screaming into a pillow, hooping in the park with a friend(s) and establishing a sleep pattern are all legitimate and practical actions for combating negative and seemingly imbalanced mental states. However, for some of us, we need something more, i.e. medication, therapy, etc.
In conclusion, I truly hope this reflection has offered some insight into how essential “balance” is to maintaining a harmonious life. I want to emphasize in whatever we set out to accomplish, whether it is aiming to nail a smooth transition between a few snazzy off-body hoop tricks, walking across a balance beam without falling off or holding a “Tree Pose” for an extended period of time, we must be patient with ourselves. Take your time and really appreciate the learning process.
Last, but not really (look below), Jasmine’s Hoop Dance Song Suggestion for the Day: “Sea Lion Woman” performed by Nina Simone.
I wish you all the warmest blessings. Namaste.
P.S. Resources: Harter, Rod A. & Sabrina Jo. “Fundamentals of Applied Kinesiology” in ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals, ed. Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM. San Diego: American Council on Exercise, 2012. 115, 273.