Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spreading Wellness: Is balance static or dynamic?

Have you ever watched a young child learn how to downhill ski? Or, maybe you have watched a child learn how to ride a bike? If not, maybe you remember one or both of these experiences yourself?

A number of years ago, I was the ski school coordinator at Lutsen Mountains. My favorite days were not behind the desk, taking care of customer service and assigning lessons to the instructors. My favorite days were when I was able to assign myself to a lesson or group of lessons. The age of preference for me was the 3 and 4 year olds. Crazy? Maybe. But, that has always been my favorite developmental age. Yes, I've worked in pediatrics for most of my professional career, teaching through movement.

Imagine, a group of 3 and 4 year olds on downhill skis for the first time. Say, 8 of them, learning to stop. Red light, green light is a classic game. Everyone loves it. Well, except those kids who just want to race to the bottom, hit the fence to stop, and go again, because they have no fear, and fast is fun. But usually, it is a game that everyone cheers for. At the top of the hill, I put every child's skis into the fruit pie position (Yes, I was that instructor). Then, a few feet down the hill I would call out "green light, skis into carrot sticks!" (Or, which ever veggie the kids liked best.) Slowly the kids would start down the hill, and this first time down the hill, "red light" came quite soon. "Push your skis back into that pie." Slowly, the kids would come to a stop. Some much farther down the hill than others, but usually, each child looks similar. Their bodies wobble, arms go out and up, some fall, but no stop is ever smooth this first time. No stop demonstrates mastery of balance. Every child at age 3 or 4, skiing for their first time will use a very dynamic, full body movement to push their skis out and stop. And some, will continue in a dynamic balance pattern until "green light" is called once again.

Those were fun days. Now my days are spent balancing life, family, and teaching (mostly adults) how to lead healthy, happy, and meaningful lives. Balance comes up frequently in these conversations. The balance of work, play, family, and professional networking. I hear myself reminding people that life is dynamic. Balance is not a static concept. Some days you need to prioritize yourself. Other days you need to prioritize your family, and some days you need to prioritize your work and professional networks. A clear, concise, and rigid schedule seems to be a thing of the past. Perhaps there are still "lucky ones" out there who are able to have that same "balanced" schedule every week, however, if you really think about it, there are adjustments that need to be made on a daily basis no matter what your plan is. Co-workers catch the nasty bug going around, children have something come up at school, or your spouse needs you to be there for them. There are days when you want to look like that child learning to ski, and throw your arms up and out as a way to physically release your discouragement of life balance.
Photos and edits by: Jodi L. Tervo Roberts, Owner of E3 Twin Ports, LLC

Now think about yourself, and your own physical balance. It is probably pretty good. Most people believe their balance is fine. I like to ask prior to administering the balance portion of my Wellness Assessment when the last time you actually worked on your balance was. Although some work daily on their balance at the gym or through Yoga, most people aren't totally sure. The results of the balance test are usually eye opening (during the eyes closed portion of the test). :) As adults we forget to think about our physical balance. But think about when your eyes are open and you stand on one foot. If someone was looking at you, they would likely see a stationary person, right? But think about yourself, standing on one leg. Do you feel muscles working? Specifically in your ankle area? Your leg and foot are constantly making minor adjustments to keep you "balanced."

So now I ask, Is balance static or dynamic? I believe it is dynamic. Not just physical balance, but life balance as well. So the next time you get stressed out about life balance I ask you to try 3 things.

1. Remind yourself that balance is dynamic (and if you need a physical reminder, stand on one leg, with your eyes open, and feel those little leg muscles working).
2. Take a time out, seek nature, and take a few deep belly breaths to improve the oxygen flow. (Link for breathing exercises from Harvard Medical School)
3. Pause and remind yourself that you are worthy of a healthy, happy, and meaningful life. This may be a time when you need to prioritize yourself, so that you can give to others. Positive self-talk is powerful. (2 Psychology Today article links - Make your self-talk work for you, and Positive self-talk for personal growth.)

If you are looking to work on your physical balance, you are in luck. Yoga at the Fairlawn continues. Another 7 week series begins on March 10th and runs through April 28th (no class on March 31st). Pre-registration is appreciated, simply email me, Jodi, at info@e3twinports.com. Class is from 5:15-6:00.

If you have stumbled upon this blog, and would like to be added to our list, simply email info@e3twinports.com, with "Blog Sign-up" in the subject line. I'll happily add to to our growing list of over 150 people. 

E3 Twin Ports, LLC
Energy and Empowerment through Exercise
Owner, Jodi L. Tervo Roberts
Jodi L. Tervo Roberts, Owner
E3 Twin Ports, LLC
Helping people to lead healthy, happy, & meaningful lives, while promoting healthy lifestyles through outdoor recreation, fitness, yoga, individual wellness coaching, and interactive educational presentations.

Website: e3twinports.com
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