It’s a concept that we learned about in yoga teacher training. It’s a structural principle, often used to describe engineering or building structures, that uses a system of strained distribution to hold a structure together.
It’s like a spider web. The web is made of delicate material yet is able to hold the weight of the spider and anything else that gets caught in it. If one strand breaks, the whole web doesn’t fall down. Instead the strain and tension is distributed across the web to account for the weakened section.
The same thing happens in our body. When we have a muscle imbalance or a strain, the tension has to be distributed across our bones, muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments to account for the weak link. If we continue to load the system in this state, the system will eventually break down which may mean injury.
I know, why all this talk about physics? Well, it’s because I’d like to argue that this idea of tensegrity can be applied to all aspects of our lives, especially our health and wellness.
We often talk about how to achieve balance – balancing work with fitness with family with healthy eating with self care. There’s this perception that balance then means that each of these elements is on an equal plane – and that this is the ideal state we should seek to achieve. It’s the Holy Grail, right?
But the reality, it’s impossible to achieve this constant state of equilibrium because life happens. At different times, one area may take precedence or require more of your attention. Maybe it’s a really busy time at work or you’re child is sick or you’re injured. Maybe it’s a bad eating week.
And these ebbs and flows, ups and downs are the natural course of life and that’s OK. When that happens, when one part of the web is loaded with some extra weight, something has to give and the stress needs to be redistributed.
Thinking about it in terms of yoga, achieving balance in any one pose requires you to make subtle shifts and to counterbalance different body parts and muscle groups.
Take tree pose for example. While it may look like you are standing still, rooted and grounded on one leg, when you look closer, it’s a more complex picture. Your body is constantly making adjustments to help you maintain balance. The sole of your foot is pressing into the inner thigh of the opposite leg just as much as your thigh is pressing back into your foot. It’s this delicate tension that creates the elusion of balance and stillness in the body.
So how do you achieve balance between fitness, eating right and life in general? What do you do when you feel like things are out of whack?
How to Achieve Balance in 5 Steps
- Let go of the idea that you will achieve balance. This notion has a tendency to create expectations that are difficult to live up to and often leaves us with a lot of guilt on our shoulders.
- Go back to your goals or intentions. Re-evaluate. Do these still fit you, what you want to achieve, and your life? Do they need to be re-calibrated? If they do, that’s OK because again, life happens and things change and our goals and intentions often need to change along with it.
- Go back to your daily/weekly practice. Your practice doesn’t have to be the exact same every week. Evaluate it week-to-week and adjust it based on what you’re priorities are for that week. For example, in terms of fitness, if I have a busy work week, I might have to cut back on the number of days that I work out that week. But on those days that I do workout, I will make sure that they are quality workouts. Or, if my IT band is achey, that may mean that I will focus more on PT exercises and strength training for the next couple of weeks instead of just running, running, running. And there may be weeks where your priority is rest and recovery.
- Show yourself compassion. Setbacks will happen. Challenges will crop up. Show yourself compassion during those times.
- Continue to show up.
For me, it’s time to check-in with my goals and intentions since things don’t feel balanced and life has definitely thrown me some curveballs. It’s really tempting to just throw in the towel and say forget all of this healthy eating and fitness business. But I just need to redefine what the means to me right now.
How do you approach the issue of balance? What tips work for you?
Read more about my #PathToFit journey:
- Rest, Reset, Renew on the #PathToFit
- How a Daily Practice Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
- 2 Steps to Make Healthy Eating a Reality
- 14 Ways to Get More Steps in a Day When You Work From Home
- 2 Easy Pre-Workout Breakfast Ideas
This post is the last in a series of six posts that I’m doing in partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin to share my #PathToFit this year. As compensation, I received Whole Foods gift cards and a Garmin vívofit, both of which I’m using to create the content for this series. All views and opinions expressed are 100% my own.
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