The Sweet Spotby Caitlin Friree

Can you balance on one foot? Can you do it with your eyes closed?

Balance training is the fastest way to get your entire body strong. In order to stand on one foot, all the muscles in your body must work together to hold the skeleton in proper posture. Good posture prevents excess strain on the joints, and greatly reduces the risk of injury. Balance training also helps you avoid a fall, or fall gracefully, if you slip or trip.When all the muscles work together and do the job they were designed to do, balance feels effortless. Anyone can find equilibrium, but it isn't easy. Standing on two feet takes a lot less effort; some of the muscles have to contract in order to stand, but the majority of them relax, especially if you lock your knees. When the body is in an instable situation, every muscle must "wake up" and support the skeleton. This brings all the muscles, big and small, up to par. Balance tricks don't require exceptional strength, but they can create it.

Balance work can build a stronger body and a stronger brain. Studies show that people who challenge their minds, and get out of their mental comfort zones, are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's, dementia, and senility. The focus that's required during balance exercise is a dose of preventative medicine.

Master the art of good balance, and you will find the "sweet spot": where life is calm, strong and effortless.

How to balance on one foot with your eyes closed:

Focus your gaze on a stable spot a few feet in front of you. Make your entire body stiff as a board, arms angled down like commercial airplane wings, then slowly lift one foot off the ground. When you find the "sweet spot", where balance becomes effortless, try closing your eyes. Hold your head and arms still. Make your legs stiff and strong, add a slight bend to the standing leg's knee, and distribute your body weight equally between the ball of the foot and the heel. Don't forget to breathe...then close your eyes!