The Story of Balance Center
by Jean Couch
|Out of Balance
When I took my first
yoga class in 1972 at a University of
California extension course I was blown
away with how good I felt. After each
pose we rested in corpse pose for as long
as we had held the asana. Candles lit
the room, and the "music" was
a Sanskrit recitation of the teacher's
teacher, teacher's teacher, etc. Or, that's
how I remember it. I had recently moved
to California from Iowa and yoga was about
as radical as I could get. The whole thing
thrilled me. I felt daring AND it made
me feel luscious.
I had been drawn to
take yoga because I was getting stiffer,
was extremely tense emotionally, and was
looking for something to connect me to
myself. I had the notion that yoga would
address all those issues. Yoga delivered.
I got more flexible, it helped me calm
down, and my awareness increased. That
initial course, ten one-hour classes,
changed my life forever.
This course was in the
tradition of Swami Vishnu Devananda. However,
the San Francisco Bay area was a hot bed
of Iyengar yoga so it wasn't long before
I started studying with Felicity Hall,
Larry Hatlett, Ramanand Patel, Mary Dunn,
and others. What attracted me to Iyengar
style yoga was a yearning to understand
the alignment of the poses so that the
health benefits could be maximized. In
1979 I went to India and studied with
Mr. Iyengar himself. Later I was highly
influenced by Angela Farmer who taught
with imagery and more focus on the breath.
I taught yoga at the
Palo Alto YMCA and various industries:
Syntex, Amdal, EPRI. During that time
I modeled for a revised book of yoga for
Runner's World magazine and shortly after
that they asked me to write Runner's
World Yoga Book.
The book catapulted me into the national
scene and it wasn't long before I was
teaching yoga all around the country for
local yoga associations and health camps,
such as the Omega Institute in New York,
and Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana. When
Runner's World stopped publishing the
book Rodmell Press asked if I would revise
the book and it's on the market today
as The Runner's
As I practiced, taught,
and matured I began to have insights that
worried me. When I looked into my students'
faces I saw that they were strained. Iyengar
himself says the purpose of yoga is relaxation
and this essential quality was missing.
Also, I was injured. I suffered periodically
from severe sciatica, and I knew other
teachers who were injured too. Yoga is
an ancient healing art so I began to intuit
that there was something missing.
The missing link is
Balanced posture, researched by Noelle
Perez of the Institute D'Aplomb in Paris,
France. Ms. Perez is pictured in B.K.S.
Iyengar's classic text Light on Yoga in
plate #62. Initially motivated by encouragement
from Mr. Iyengar, since 1959 she has been
studying populations of people who stay
straight and work into their old age.
We describe these people as Balanced.
Prior to 1920, the world's population
was mostly in Balance. Since yoga is thousands
of years old yoga assumes people begin
in Balance. However, due to cultural norms
most people in highly industrialized nations
are out of Balance, they lean backwards.
Students need to practice yoga in Balance
or there is too much to overcome. Doing
yoga in Balance is closest to its origins,
Balanced yoga is traditional.
Come experience Balanced
yoga, whether you are a beginner or practice
advanced yoga. Many yoga teachers have benefitted
from the perspecitve brought by Balanced yoga.
here for class descriptions and schedules.