Balance – use it or lose it!
“Use it or lose it” is a great saying and never more true than when we think about our ability to balance.
Watch children playing, they are constantly challenging their balance reflex and considering the amount of risks they take kids actually fall (and injure themselves badly) very little. As we get older though we do not put our body in balance situations, so our ability to balance decreases. Essentially we are telling our brains and bodies that balance is not important to us, so it stops putting any energy into that function.
This becomes even more apparent after the age of 40, when our sense of balance naturally declines, as the neural connections in the cerebellum (part of the brain that is responsible for balance) deteriorate. The good news is though that these neural connections can be built back up but it does take some effort on our part ie. you have to get moving and work on improving your balance.
In my last blog about balance, I talked a little bit about all the parts of the physical body that we use to balance and I left you with an exercise to help you strengthen the arches of your feet. To recap, we need strength in certain muscles (more on that in later blog!), we use our eyes and ears (I’ve got some great yogic practices to help you look after these vital organs) and we need good nerve functioning.
Dru yoga is a fantastic way to keep our nerves healthy. Nerves are our bodies communication system, every movement, every bodily function and every sensation, is controlled by the nervous system – it’s crucial that we do our best to take care of them. As all nerves branch out from the central nervous cord, which is found within the protective spinal column, it makes sense to look after the spine itself. If you’ve ever suffered from sciatica you will appreciate the excruciating pain that the nerves can give us if the spine itself is out of alignment. Yoga is an amazing tool for keeping the spine flexible and healthy. At every Inside Out class we spend a lot of time caring for the back, which in turn takes care of the nerves, allowing the messages to be transported through the whole nervous system without interruption or confusion.
We strongly recommend daily practice of the Cat pose to keep every part of your spine in tip top condition. Here’s a quick reminder:
From all fours (knees under hips, hands under shoulders), long neutral back, core muscles engaged throughout.
Exhale as you round your back, tucking the tailbone under and drawing the chin in towards the chest.
Inhale, as you lengthen your spine, imagine the tailbone moving towards the wall behind you, opening the chest and lengthening the neck so the chin extends forwards.
Repeat as often as you like, moving slowly and mindfully. How many of your vertebrae can you feel moving independently?
The other great thing about yoga is that it’s a very efficient way of detoxing the body, helping get rid of waste products, toxins and carbon dioxide by improving circulation and boosting the elimination systems. Nerves are particularly susceptible to toxins and damage relatively easily.
I guarantee that if you take care of your spine, one of the many benefits you will experience, is that your sense of balance will improve.
Until next time, if you want more ideas on how to improve your balance, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/insideoutdruyoga