Exercise: Understanding Counterbalance

Become aware of the various patterns of positioning in your standing or seated Base and then observe the Counterbalance efforts of your upper body. Through the lens of Counterbalance, we can examine many physical activities that call for a particular Base and then depend upon additional muscular activity to manage balance. For example, when standing and holding a heavy box you naturally widen your Base to provide support to the upper body, but if you enter an elevator with a number of people and have to narrow your Stance to squeeze in, there will likely be an adjustment to your Counterbalance strategy.

Think about watching a competitive swimmer from above as they raced down the lane. The legs are kicking, scissoring in a narrow pattern. This allows for range of motion in the upper body but invites a tight and economical slicing of the arms through the water. If the swimmer broadened the kicking motion by spreading the legs wider from the hips, the patterns of the arms and torso would immediately be affected in the torso’s counterbalance. The swimming motion of the entire body would be influenced by the change in the kicking pattern. A broader kicking pattern may slow the swimmer down. If the swimmer maintains a narrow kicking motion in the lower body for speed, but the stroke in the upper body and arms is demanding an extending pattern and range of motion, the swimmer must engage more muscular activity to counter a mismatched counterbalance. You only need to look at the well-developed back and shoulder muscles of the competitive swimmer to realize the adaptation necessary.

Think about the different activities that you engage in that have complimentary Counterbalance because of how you stand, sit or move. For example, driving a car. The pedals are situated close together and the steering wheel is in line and at a circumference that does not demand a wider or narrower counterbalance than the distance of the pedal configuration. Then there are the many natural shifts in counterbalance as we move. For example, on a hike on flat unimpeded terrain, you may have complimentary counterbalance, but if you had to climb over large boulders or cross a stream from rock to rock, you would extend your base strides and the upper body would be expanding to help you keep your balance. 

If you are a person that consistently narrows the base, you may observe that you conserve gestures and limit upper body motion. If you are a person that has a pattern of widening your base, you will notice more extended gestures and folded arms require more tension. Take the time to observe counterbalance in others.

Once you are aware of your patterns of counterbalance you can employ base adjustments purposefully.

You may want to amplify your presence or become more dynamic in your communications. Widen your base to encourage extended and more expressive gestures, or conversely, begin to extend gestures and observe how your base adjusts for balance. 

You may be a naturally dynamic and overbearing physical communicator and you want to soften your presence. Narrow your base to pull in your gesture and soften your movements, or conversely, use very conservative gestures, upper arms pulled into your torso, and observe the narrow countering of your stance.

Learner Milestones


  • Understand balance and counterbalance is influenced by stance 
  • Use Counterbalance as a tool of physical stabilization 
  • Use Counterbalance as a tool of amplifying or softening physical presence  

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Foundation Course

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  1. Introduction
    11 Topics
    4 Quizzes
  2. The Breath-Thought Connection
    8 Topics
    4 Quizzes
  3. Physical Orientation
    16 Topics
    8 Quizzes
  4. Frame and Stance
    12 Topics
    6 Quizzes

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