Balance is at the heart of every athletic activity. Balance is synonymous with stability, steadiness and equilibrium, which is the result of equal action of opposing forces. Imagine the way a great gymnast, baseball pitcher, ice skater, runner, tennis player uses his/her body. What does good balance afford? It brings flexibility, agility, and ultimately, control. Control without balance must be acquired through tension and rigidity, which is the primary source of discomfort and pain.
Physical balance is so ubiquitous that we forget it is a requirement in every facet of daily living. Without balance, we would topple over at the slightest provocation. Balance requires gravity. Imagine trying to experience balance floating in zero gravity. Where would it be? In your feet? Your hands? your body? There would be none. So our prerequisite for balance is gravity. Gravity is the interacting pull between two masses: in our case, the earth and our bodies. These two masses are inextricably tied together, and to ignore balance in ANY physical activity is to be in battle with one of the essential forces of nature. The direct path to balance follows the line of gravity. The first step in our experiential journey is understanding gravity and how it feels. So let’s notice gravity, how it acts on our body, and the necessity of balance:
Shifting weight is an essential part of ANY movement. Imagine a well-constructed mobile. A mobile is a system of linked objects predicated on balance. To initiate movement in ANY part of a mobile is to affect the position of EVERY OTHER PART of the mobile associated with the balanced structure.
mobile by Alexander Calder. © The Calder Foundation
When we engage in any kind of movement on our instrument, our body must be sensitive to a balanced response! We must become aware of how movement affects our balance, and teach our body to respond effectively and naturally. This next video explores balance through movement.