On one foot

As I start my day in the morning, I practice different postures, stretching my body.  A part of my routine is exercising while standing on one foot, alternating between left and right. These exercises contribute to my physical and mental balance. Balancing abilities decline with age, so I hope to slow the decay with these practices.

When I stand on one foot, my brain constantly sends correction signals to my muscles so I can remain stable. There are three primary input sources that my brain factors in before sending balancing muscle activation signals:

  1.  
  2. Balance fluids in my ears.
  3. Touch sensation on my feet.

Fixing my eyes at one static point and avoiding other sensual distractions makes it easier to keep balance. For example, I lose balance more easily when I practice on the beach while watching ocean waves or looking at swaying trees.

The last exercise I perform on one foot is probably the most effective. It’s simply standing on one foot with my eyes closed and keeping my balance. When shutting my eyes, I have no visual input, leaving my brain with two primary input sources: ear fluids and feet sensations. Eliminating visual information makes it more challenging for me to keep balance.

Through the years, I have noticed that my breathing affects my ability to keep balance when standing on one foot. More often than not, it would be on the inhale that I lose my balance; on the exhale, I feel more stable. Another interesting observation was that I have better balance when I smile. So I try to use smiling to offset the instability when I inhale.

Smiling contributes to balance not only when standing on one foot; it can help balance long life journeys.