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Tired? Injured? These 4 Tips Will Give You the Balanced Body You Need

Uncategorized May 24, 2015

Have you heard the story about the two frogs?

One frog is placed in a pot of water that is gradually heated, and it eventually boils to death. The other frog is placed in an already hot pot of water, and jumps out straight away.

Don't worry, no frogs were harmed in the making of this post.

For most of us, we get used to the body we live in, and we accept the status quo and can become a bit like the first frog (hopefully without the death part).

We can become accepting of the average.

Feelings of low energy, suffering, pain, injury and limited movement can go from a bit uncomfortable to our normal everyday experience of life.

But what if someone else were to step into your body; would they sense the 'heat' and jump out straight away?

To live in a body that's free of pain, full of energy, and moves with ease, you need to become aware like the second frog, so you can quickly make a course correction.

With the tools in this article you'll discover how to regain the balance your body is quietly screaming for.

 

Take off the blinkers

You know those things they put over horses eyes; they can be called 'blinkers.'

Essentially, what they do is restrict a horse from being able to see from their peripheral vision, so that they focus solely on what's in front of them.

Clear focus is definitely important when your health and well-being is concerned, but imbalances and challenges can arise if your focus is too narrow, most of the time.

Here’s some examples of the effects of narrow focus:

  1. Narrow Focus - on losing weight can often lead to losing important muscle, taking your body out of balance.
  2. Narrow Focus - on building muscle and strength can often lead to losing flexibility, taking your body out of balance.
  3. Narrow Focus - on your external body can lead you to neglect to your internal body and take your organ systems out of balance.
  4. Narrow Focus - on intensity and efficiency in your physical training can burn your energy out.

In order to experience a balanced body, free of pain and full of energy, you may like to consider taking a step back, zooming out and widening your focus.

Keep your eye on the bigger picture to avoid danger...

 

Danger Will Robinson, danger!

We all need a robot like the one from Lost in Space, to tell us when we're in danger.

Sometimes our body is out of balance and in danger, but we don't even realise it.

Here's how you can use Yin and Yang as your 'inner warning robot' to help bring your body back to balance.

 

Four simple Yin, Yang strategies

The ancient symbol of Yin and Yang beautifully depicts the universal law of balance.

Yin and Yang naturally exist within you. All you need is to learn how to apply it. 

 

The black represents Yang and the white represents Yin. Notice also in this symbol, that within the Yang there's a bit of Yin and vice versa.

This is to say that balance is never absolute and 'perfect.'

Think about this when you're applying the four re-balancing strategies below.

 

1. Contraction & Relaxation

When it comes to moving your body, it can only do two things - contract or relax.

Simple, right?

Relaxation is more Yin and contraction is more Yang, and in any given movement it’s important to understand when and how much to do of each.

If you're consciously, or un-consciously contracting all the time, you'll be building up tension, which can lead to injury, pain and feeling tired.

On the other hand, too much relaxation and you become a pile of bones on the floor.

Here's what you can do:

  • Sit, stand, or lay down with your back as flat as you can and notice if there are any areas in your body you need to relax or contract more.
  • Look for a happy medium between contraction and relaxation.

 

2. Inhalation & Exhalation

It’s often the simplest of things many folks overlook the importance of, like how the way you breathe affects the quality of every, single, thing you do in life, from your work, to how you move, and how you spend your social time.

During breathing, the inhale is the Yin phase. It accumulates and concentrates air inwards, allowing the circulation of new energy.

The exhale is the Yang phase of your breathing, which releases and expands air / energy out of the body.

If this seems a bit too woo woo for your liking, it may be time to open your mind around the importance of breathing.

What you can do: Practice this simple breathing exercise right now.

  1. Take a big deep breath deep into your stomach to the count of four… one, two, three, four. Now hold for two, and breathe out for a count of four.
  2. How do you feel? If you feel any different from one breath, imagine the power of being aware of the thousands of breaths you take during your life.

 

3. Rest, Digest & Fight or Flight

It’s important to understand the balancing effect that each of these states have on your body.

Imbalances in these areas can lead down the path of many different dis-eases, or even something as simple as being in a constant state of low energy.

Today life can be stressful, and often the best way to offset stress is to rest.

States of stress and / or rest heavily affect your nervous system, which has two phases of being.

  1. The sympathetic circuit is the Yang phase and is responsible for the expenditure of energy, moving your body, and many other things. It helps you deliver in your profession, in your strength training, or to evade an oncoming attack from a tiger!
  2. The parasympathetic circuit is the Yin phase and is where energy is conserved and the body is calmed. This phase is activated by practices like stillness, meditation, breathing exercises, internal strength training like Qigong (pronounced Chee Goong), rest, during digestion of food, and much more.

It’s very common for those engaging in intense physical training, or being in stressful states all the time, to be too Yang and spend a disproportionate amount of time using their sympathetic circuit.

If you experience general lack of energy, digestion issues, low sex drive, or symptoms like this, it may be time to bring some Yin into your life and re-prioritise your parasympathetic circuit.

What you can do:

  • Take off your shoes and go for a walk on the grass, breathe deeply and focus on being, more than doing.

 

4. Internal & External

Many people these days (especially in the west) practice only externally focused exercise, where it’s all about improving either how you look or how you perform in the way you move. External training can vary greatly from martial arts, to weight lifting, to gymnastics, etc.

While this is an important side of the coin representing balance, there’s another side to be considered.

The other side of the coin is internally focused training, and this is something often neglected.

Internal practices like qigong, energy work, breathing exercises and meditation are more common practice in the east, but the west is slowly getting on board.

Both internal and external training must be addressed for a more balanced practice. The Shaolin are great examples of this.

  • Too much internal and movement becomes compromised,
  • Too much external and energy and your vitality becomes compromised.

Depending on your age, experience level and your current energy levels, internal and external training ratios should be adjusted.

What you can do: Based on your age, use the examples below to work out whether you could use a little more internal, or external exercise in your life.

  • Younger (from birth to end of teens): More external (Yang) practices, less (Yin) internal practices.
  • Middle age (20’s-40’s): Balance between external and internal practices, factoring in environmental, personal and life circumstances.
  • Older age (40’s +): More internal (energy conserving) practices, less external (energy expending) practices.

I’m a big believer that age is only a number, but there’s a cycle of energy and essence that naturally happens as we age and our activities should adjust accordingly.

 

Memoirs of a 'balanced body'

Being balanced in your body is only a term you can truly define for yourself.

But perhaps I can share some lessons to help you upgrade your definitions you have for yourself, based on what I've learned after many years of working with people to bring more balance to their lives.

Here’s my experiences on the subject:

  1. A balanced body is about honouring the dual nature of the laws of nature.
  2. A balanced body is a result of a balanced mind.
  3. Your ability to balance your body is defined by the ability to adapt your physical (flexibility, strength, co-ordination), mental (values, beliefs, intentions) and spiritual foundation.
  4. Balance is something that should happen naturally and is about the intersection between: allowance,  letting go and being wilful, and holding on.
  5. In any given moment, your body is in perfect balance. The question is though ... Would being in a deeper state of balance serve you to live a greater life?

Remember, these are simply my thoughts, based on my own personal experiences and intuition. It’s important you find your own conclusions.

 

Ask, listen, act

These relationships of Yin and Yang run in the background every moment of your life, whether you're exercising, at work, or connecting with friends.

The wise honour these relationships and bring them into their practice to maintain better harmony and balance.

So experience your body for a moment, as if you were someone else and simply ask what it needs.

Is this moment asking for more:

  1. Contraction or Relaxation

  2. Inhalation or Exhalation

  3. Rest and Digest, or Fight and Flight

  4. Internal or External

Remember, if you ask the question, and receive the answer ... It's most important that you act, even if it's not something you'd normally do.

 

Dare to do something out of your norm

Remember the first frog I mentioned at the start of the article?

That's how most people choose to live their lives - they accept the average.

If you've read this far, it's likely that you're far from average, and you're looking for something more from your body.

Something beyond what the mainstream world of health, fitness and well-being offers.

The first step we'd recommend is to assess your mind-body connection, state of balance, and to identify your highest areas of need to focus on.

You can do that with our Physical Freedom Challenge.

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