Seek Straightness from the Circle
Life doesn't happen in a straight line. It's cyclical or more of a spiral if you will.
These days I am more often thinking of life more as a spiral than as a straight line. Life does not come with a directional map or step by step instructions. I'm embracing a more circular, softer approach. I’m doing the same in movement and in my approach to Pilates, Dance, and Yoga. Spiral Movements help me increase body awareness. When I was dancing consistently (6 days a week), spirals and circular motions were not something to which I gave conscious thought. When dancing, my body had the luxury of spiral, circular and flowing continuous movements with or without choreography. For example, spinning, rotations, arching in various planes, etc.
To borrow a thought from one of the oldest movement disciplines of all time, Tai Chi, in the movement we should "...Seek straightness from the circle..."
I encourage you to be open to the benefits that develop as a result of moving your body in different ways- different directions, different rhythms, with a different focus. Be open to your body's innate ability to self-correct. Notice and learn from its infinite and intuitive wisdom. Allow space for new ideas, body sensations, and experiences and notice how naturally and easily the breath can move the body.
Consider the spirals (circles) in your movement practices this week. Of course, if you're in Pilates mat class, spirals may not be as obvious as somewhere else. It’s more of a linear movement experience.
Having said that, I don't mean to imply that Pilates is two-dimensional. Contrary to much popular opinion and the ongoing fitness world debates, Pilates is far more than a linear two-dimensional system. Anyone who works on the Spine Corrector or Short box regularly will identify with this. Even in Pilates Mat class, we have opportunities to practice spirals and experience our muscles literally spiraling around the spine.
6 Directions of the Spine
Our spines need to move in all 6 directions- ideally every day. Spiral movements require moving the spine through several planes and may include lateral flexion, rotation, forward flexion, and depending on the exercise the spiral could include a spinal extension. Putting them together is part of the challenge and is highly therapeutic!
I want to distinguish the difference between a spiral, circle movement experience versus an exclusively linear one. Incorporating more spiral movements helps free the spine and creates greater articulation and overall spinal health. Joseph Pilates said, “We are only as young as the health of our spines…”
Create Freedom in your body through conscious intention.
Spiral, circular movements also allow for greater freedom throughout your body and help create space in your joints. Movement in Pilates, as in Tai Chi, comes first from the mind's intention to move, then from the energy (created in part by inhalation) within our bodies as directed by the mind's intention. If we can intend that the energy that causes the movement to be spiraling (moving in circles as it moves straight) then great internal and external strength is developed. This is true no matter how straight the movement looks on the outside of our bodies. Continue to move your body and increase your spinal flexibility with this concept and you will discover yet additional benefits.
This method of moving spills over into the way we live. Slowly we discover inner wisdom. Seek straightness from the circle and see where it takes you!!
With gratitude and love,
About the Author
Geneviève Nedder is the director and founder of Body Fundamentals, Inc. a Pilates & Wellness business founded in 1996. She is a certified Perfect Health Lifestyle educator who teaches one-on-one, group classes, and employee wellness programs on achieving vibrant health through Movement, Meditation, Mindfulness, and Nutrition. In addition to specialized and comprehensive Pilates certifications, Geneviève is a Chopra Health Educator.