Tag Archives: equilibrium

mountain pose“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:

e·qui·lib·ri·um, noun

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.


TrianglePoseBikramYogaWynnewoodEven 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!

equilibrium“Spwing has spwung,

The gwass has wiz,

I wonder where

The birdies is!”
~ terrible poem recited yearly by my Dad

This Wednesday, March 20, at 7:02am (EDT) is the spring equinox, marking a balance between light and dark in our days and the first day of spring!  A light- and sun-lover since birth, I feel a sense of relief at this time of year.  I’ve made it through another winter and the warmth is on its way back.  When I lived in New England, this was only true in theory since it really didn’t get warm until May and then it usually went straight to hot.  But here in Virginia at the spring equinox, “spwing,” as my father vernally reminded us, “has spwung” for reals.

Natural cycles are reflected in the human body and movement.  Not surprisingly (or originally), last year at this time, I wrote about balance (clever girl!).  This year, I’m noticing “equilibrium” in my body and in my practice.  While I experience “balance” as a verb, a process; “equilibrium” feels like a state to observe and develop.

Not to get all English-majory on you, but there are three definitions of “equilibrium” that interest me (evidently there is also a chemistry definition which maybe a chemist out there can interest me in, too):

e·qui·lib·ri·um, noun

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.

I love how each aspect of equilibrium has its own sensation and each is a state that we can cultivate in Nia … and the practice of dancing through life.  I’ll talk more about that specifically tomorrow, but for today I’ll offer a little body~mind centered theory!

Equilibrium is built into Nia movement and philosophy.  Nia follows the The Body’s Way which is guided by five fundamental principles (click here for complete descriptions):

  1. The Body Thrives on Dynamic Ease
  2. The Body Demands Balance
  3. The Body is Balanced in Yin and Yang
  4. The Body’s Way Demands Simultaneous Mobility and Stability
  5. The Body Itself Reveals the Body’s Way

The names of the principles themselves show that equilibrium is at the heart of The Body’s Way!  The body, Nia, and life are, at their essence, all about a balance between effort and rest, internal and external, upper and lower, left and right, active and receptive, mobile and stable, strong and flexible.  Equilibrium and The Body’s Way are about how opposing forces actually create their own state of release and ease.

A state of balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.  Equal balance between powers.  Equanimity.  Equilibrium is a state of balanced alignment and grace.  Wherever we focus more on one side than the other, the system (be it a body, a practice, or a life) is out of alignment and, therefore, the health of that system is compromised.  In Nia practice, a Type-A person who comes in late to class, dives into the highest-intensity songs full-bore, and leaves before Floorplay and relaxation is out of equilibrium and is not practicing The Body’s Way.  Neither is the person who daydreams during the movement, chats during the “hard” songs, and gets a drink during freedance.  In life, the person who over-schedules every moment, is late to each engagement, and is often in a state of frazzeledness, is out of equilibrium, too.  Similarly, the person who moves through life in auto-pilot, not fully engaged when active and not fully resting either is out of The Body’s Way.

The invitation of Nia and The Body’s Way is equilibrium:  a balanced attention on opposing forces that creates a state of balance and ease.  Tomorrow, I’ll share specifically how we can use equilibrium in our movement and in our lives to enhance our health and well-being.  Inhale.  Exhale.  And come back tomorrow!

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