Are all sides created equal? Bad side, better side and body symmetry By Natalie Anthony #WellbeingWednesday
I often blame my bad leg for not allowing me to hold a balance or standing pose as long. It’s a poor excuse to exit my pose early. As a yoga instructor, I often hear people state the same thing–that they can’t perform a pose well on one leg, arm, knee, etc. This year I’ve made a commitment to find symmetry in both sides of my body: no more excuses!
Let’s revisit the nature versus nurture debate. Nature created our bodies more or less symmetrical. Nurturing them may have caused imbalances along the way. Sometimes an imbalance is due to an injury beyond our control, and other times it’s due to the activities we’ve integrated into our lives. If the culprit is repetitive strain due to inaccurate techniques, this can be and should be corrected.
The key is to identify the source of the imbalance, then get your body balanced out. In my opinion, body symmetry helps you achieve optimal performance. Here are some suggestions to help you feel balanced between your right and left sides.
1) Don’t call it your ‘bad’ side. It may sound silly, but referring to both sides as strong and able makes a difference. Instead of going cold turkey, you could try calling it your ‘unique’ or ‘special’ side. I’ve found that this helps me avoid favouring the one side.
2) Strengthen your ‘special’ side. One trick I suggest is to begin any pose or activity on your ‘better’ side (this could be a balance pose, arm presses, etc.). That way your brain will have a reference point for when the same pose or action is performed on the other side. For example, if you can hold Warrior 3 for at least 10 breaths on your better leg, then work to achieve the same on the other.
3) Get advice. Your fitness instructor and/or trainer can be a terrific source of information. They can likely provide you with some effective ways to find body symmetry.
4) Be patient. It may take longer than you’d like to achieve muscle symmetry/balance. However, please don’t let this deter you from sticking with it. In my experience, one day you’ll simply feel stronger and/or less sore on your special side.
After a nasty injury, I’ve been working on strengthening my left leg for years. The strength (and symmetry) has come a long way, but I’m still not completely balanced out. Now that I’m not making excuses, I know I’ll achieve better body symmetry.
Natalie Anthony, BA, RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
After a serious accident, Natalie was revived by discovering the physical and emotional benefits of yoga. Her yoga journey began as a client at Balance, and evolved into a passion for teaching the practice to others. Natalie is registered with the International Yoga Alliance as an instructor. Her creative sequencing inspires students to develop strength, flexibility and joy – both on and off the mat. Natalie instructs group classes and facilitates private one-on-one Yoga sessions at Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness and wellness centre. balancefit.com