“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” ~ Yogi Berra
I love me some Nia philosophy and theory. Yes, I do. In my post yesterday, I waxed philosophically theoretical about how equilibrium, a state that we can cultivate in the body and in life, is at the heart of The Body’s Way. What better time to noodle on such things than the spring equinox?
But theory is theory and practice is practice. So let’s look at how we can actually sense for equilibrium in the body, in our movement, and in life. Each definition of equilibrium aligns with movement and sensation that we can create in Nia and in whatever we do:
1. a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
2. equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.
3. mental or emotional balance: equanimity.
First, we sense “a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces” when we are standing upright or a stances in Nia. On the face of it, when we take an Open Stance or just stand up from a chair, “opposing forces” may not be the first thing to jump to mind. But whenever we stand upright, we are balancing the body’s weight and strength into the pull of gravity. As we align the body weights of pelvis, chest and head, they rest along the plumb line of gravity in that “state of rest or balance.” If any of those body weights is out of alignment, however, the act of standing becomes a constant effort.
Second, “equal balance between any powers” is the sensation of a dynamic ease that we can feel in both yogic postures or balanced movement. Watch a yogi in Triangle or Warrior Pose and you can see the lines of equilibrium balancing the body with equal and opposite force.
Even if they look peaceful, these poses move tremendous energy through the body in opposing directions creating a state of balance. Lose the energy in one arm or leg and the whole system literally falls!
This quality of balance between powers can happen when the body is in movement, too. In Nia, when we move across the floor in Lateral Traveling (or in life when we walk across the room), for example, we are balancing the force of our feet against the floor in order to move. Feel how one foot pushes left for the body to go right, back for the body to go forward. The opposite foot is then there, ready to stabilize and then to push the body again. This collection of movements actually creates its own state of equilibrium. Put that same movement on a slippery floor, or have one foot weaker than the other and that state no longer exists!
Notice that when executing blocks or punches with alternating arms, one arm is actively performing the movement while the opposite arm is resting in neutral. Often we can get revved up doing these powerful arm movements and forget to allow the non-working arm to find ease in neutral position. To be in a state of equilibrium, we let the active arm be full-on while the neutral arm is fully at rest. By cultivating this state of equilibrium, we actually have more power.
And this flows into the third definition: the state of equanimity. Equilibrium in the mental and emotional realms is equanimity: the non-reactive witness that allows us to observe what is unfolding. Nia is often called a movement meditation. As I place my awareness and attention on sensation and movement, the thinking, critical mind has an opportunity to find that neutral place, too.
The body is always doing its best to find equilibrium, so you may be in the state more often than you realize! The invitation this week is to notice the state of rest and the balance between opposing forces, as well as witnessing equanimity when the mind and emotions are in balance. When you notice that you are out of equilibrium, ask yourself how you can regain it. Action and rest, give and receive, inhald and exhale. Equilibrium is The Body’s Way and the way of health and well-being — the first of spring is an excellent time to intentionally find it.
As always, my friends, please leave a comment and let me know what you discover!