Let’s face it: we’re not balanced. We strive for balance, yet it is almost a daily, elusive stretch. We typically metaphysically lead with our stronger side, yet both sides need to be strong for balance.
The body is constantly giving us information about the mind and body connection. Tune in.
When I was 22 I went way too big on a monster jump at Palisades Tahoe (then Squaw Valley) to impress a friend. I slipped on the ice, didn’t clear the 10 foot jump, and landed on my lower back. I heard a snap and knew that couldn’t be good. Chiropractic was the only thing that relieved the pain. Since then, I’ve been on a journey to be pain-free both physically and emotionally.
While I was trying to figure out my lower back pain I learned a different perspective from acupuncture and Chinese medicine about the mind/body connection.
Traditional Chinese Medicine says that we are made up of both yin and yang (masculine and feminine traits) and that both must be in balance with each other. Chinese medicine says that there are meridians that run through your body that connect your body to itself, metaphyscially. For example, your liver connects to a point in your foot that you can massage during a hangover. Or if you’ve had a highly emotional day you can massage that same point on the foot because our emotions also get processed through the liver.
In trying to relieve my lower back pain from that old snowboarding accident, I went in for a Tuina massage in Berkeley years later. The practitioner mentioned that I was tackling my life with only my right side; my masculine side. She was right.
I was being too controlling and I was running away from the emotional pain in my body. I decided I needed more of the following in my life; vulnerability, softness, compassion, passivity and stability. Now, I’m not saying that any of these characteristics are masculine or feminine, but I do know that they are what I needed more of.
My body was teaching me what I was personally and spiritually lacking. AND THIS IS WHY I LOVE BEING A PERSONAL TRAINER. Helping others find their own physical and mental strength and stability is the most rewarding work ever. It creates happiness. Strength training sustains a sense of grounding of self.
I’m fascinated by what causes physical pain.
I like to go on the same run that is right outside my house. It’s a quick, 20-30 min run I’ve been doing for about 8 years that I never changed up…
I had been running on the right side of the street up a steep hill and leading/striking with my right leg only for many years. I was effectively training my body to be unbalanced because my right hip would end up working way harder than the left one. I didn’t think that something as mundane as leading with the same strong side (right side) when snowboarding and starting each leg workout with that same leg could cause imbalance. How could it not? I didn’t realize how these small habits affect the body.
So I recently started running up the hill on the left side so that my left hip can work harder and strike first. I’ve coupled this with consistent strength training for my weak hip/glute and maybe, just maybe I have become more compassionate with myself to be able to even see this inconspicuous habit as an incongruence.
What it really took, however, was another set of eyes. When my husband started training me at the beginning of the pandemic (to offer virtual fitness classes to our clientele) I learned more about why my body was off balance. He showed me exercises that I needed to strengthen my weaker side.
We are creatures of habit. What we do on a constant basis affects the balance of our muscles. This is why a full body strength training weekly program is important. Seeking muscular balance is why people who lift weights many times per week target different body parts on different days; legs and shoulders, back and triceps, chest and biceps, back or front of the body and side body. When strength training, if you neglect any group of muscles, your full body strength will have a weak link in the chain.
I believe that when you are consistently working on strengthening the muscles that are weak in your body, you are also metaphysically strengthening certain aspects of yourself.
It’s worth the time and effort to find our profound human potential through inquiry and dedication to improvement of the body.
– Mindy Berla