What is Balance?

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Why Balance?
The Causes Of Back Pain
What Is Balance?
The History Of Painful Posture
Evidence For Balance As Natural Posture
Other Treatments For Pain
Read More: A Yoga International Article About Balance
Watch YouTube Videos on Balance

Balance aligns your bones with gravity so that your muscles can be in maximum relaxation. It's based on studying healthy populations from all over the world - people who remain active into their old age, don't experience back pain or end up with hunched-over posture. Millions of people are in Balance, mostly in slightly industrialized countries. When you learn to sit, stand, and move as these people do, your pain will be significantly reduced or eliminated. Read on.

Why Do You Need Balance?
Studies indicate that 80% of people in the United States will suffer some form of debilitating back pain in their lifetimes. This is in sharp contrast to some other cultures around the world, where back pain is present in less than 5% of the population. Noelle Perez, of the Institute D'Aplomb in Paris, conducted extensive research into the differences in lifestyle, which might be related to back pain. The common thread in Portugal, Costa Rica, Bali and other countries with low incidence of back and joint pain is simple. People have different posture than we do. And they have little or no back and joint pain. These people stand, sit and move slightly differently than we do, in a way that does not produce the tension that so many of us feel in our backs. The solution to your back pain is an adjustment in posture to a more natural way of standing. How does it work? Read on.

The Causes Of Back Pain
Bali, 1998 Joints and spine are aligned as on a plumb line.The human body has evolved to support its weight through the skeleton. While this seems obvious, if you are reading this from the United States, the chances are your muscles are chronically doing extra work to support your body. Contrast these postures. A person with no back pain has their spine, pelvic center, knees and ankle naturally aligned as if on a plumb line, efficiently supporting their weight on solid bone, as shown in the picture at the left. A person with typical posture in the United States is another story.

New York City, 1996 Joints and spine follow a curved path, putting stress on muscles and skeleton.The "proper" posture we are taught as children actually corrupts our natural posture. There are three main elements to this posture. In the picture at the right, notice that this person's upper legs and pelvis are shifted forward. You can see that this causes the lower back to compensate by leaning backwards. This puts steady stress on the compensating muscles, which must continually work to keep the body upright. Finally, the upper back leans forward to compensate, bending the spine in a curved shape. In effect, this posture forces muscles to work constantly to support the weight of the body. This is stress. People don't notice it on a daily basis because the stress is continual from the time they are young children. But over time, this steady muscular tension directly causes back pain, and also prevents acute injuries from healing. Also, when the spine is excessively curved, the pressure on the disc is uneven causing a dangerous thinning on the narrow side. In time, the disc may herniate.

The good news is, with Balance, anyone can correct this posture, ending back pain naturally.

What Is Balance?
Mexico, 2000.  Joints and spine are aligned, allowing Introdom of movement while walking.Balance is natural posture. Balance is based on observations of populations who do not suffer from back or joint pain. They have pain from diseases, poor diets, and accidents, but everyday movements like gardening, sitting, carrying children, sneezing or bending do not produce pain. Balance is based on the postures and movement patterns that these people share. The guidelines are specific and concrete.

The founders of Balance cannot take credit for this posture. They did not make this up. They just described something already existing in human populations. The strength of Balance lies in the fact that it is neither a treatment which responds only to symptoms, nor is it anyone's bright idea. Posture is learned behavior, picked up from those we see around us as children. Balance is a formulation of the posture that is common to all peoples in the world who are pain-free. Jean Couch has simply developed a method to easily teach you to unlearn the posture which causes you pain.

The History Of Painful Posture
USA, 1800'sUSA, 1920'sUSA, 1993How did our society become so debilitated? The answer is a matter of historical record, as evidenced by photographs and medical records. Before the 1920's people in the United States stood with their spine, pelvis and legs on the same axis, with their body weight upright and vertical, as in the picture at left. In the 1920's, there was a shift in fashion. Think of the posture of the flappers. They stood stylishly, with their pelvis shifted forward. This modern look slowly influenced posture throughout our society, to the point where most people consider normal posture to look like the woman at the right. Unfortunately, it has brought with it the raft of problems described above. Balance can help you unlearn the fashionable posture, and allow your body to heal its pain.


Evidence For Balance As Natural Posture
Today, modern posture has spread around the world, borne by Western media to all corners of the earth. In fact, it is becoming more difficult to find cultures where Balance is the norm. How do we know that the differences in posture are not simply legitimate cultural or ethnic differences? The answer is simple. We know posture is learned because we see differences in posture from generation to generation. In Costa Rica, many families have grandparents and parents walking happily in Balance, while their children imitate the people they see on MTV and Baywatch, developing the postures of American teenagers. The shape of the human skeleton is universal. How it is held depends on environment. The Balance Center can teach you to free yourself from the painful posture you learned from those around you.

Other Treatments For Back Pain
Sometimes people have had to go to tragic lengths in often-futile attempts to end pain. Conventional medicine may prescribe drastic measures from medication to surgery, masking the symptoms of an underlying problem that persists in spite of these efforts.

The process of Balance can be accelerated by other treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, etc. However, to get the benefit of all other treatments, Balance is a pre-requisite. If after other treatments, you stand and sit out of Balance, you are undermining the effect that you want. The alignment of the skeleton is primary to health.

The power of Balance is that it is based on entire populations of people who are naturally and effortlessly free of back pain, and live in bodies which are supple, flexible and strong until old age. Try our Intro class. When you sit in Balance, and feel the comfort of the posture, you will understand how we have helped thousands of people to live again without pain. Click here to learn more about our teaching methods and class schedules.

Yoga International Article About Balance
In 1998 Yoga International published an influential article about Balance. Click here to find out how the yoga world learned about Balance.

Jean and her staff also teach Yoga in Balance. Click here for more information about her methods and schedules.

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  For 25 years I suffered with recurrent back problems which really limited my physical activities. Since learning Jean's body balancing techniques I've had virtually no problems and can confidently participate in strenuous activities again. I highly recommend her course.
--T.F., professional consultant