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 and 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 my body awareness. When I was dancing consistently ( 5 or 6 days a week), spirals and circular motions were not something to which I gave conscious thought. When dancing (which was mostly Jazz and Modern), 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 greatest and oldest movement disciplines of all time, Tai Chi, in 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, different focus. Be open to your body’s innate ability to self-correct. Notice and learn from its infinite and intuitive innate 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 about this, Pilates is far more than a linear two-dimensional system. Anyone who works on the Spine Corrector or Short box will identify with this. Even in Mat class we have opportunities to practice spirals and experience our muscles literally spiraling around the spine. Our spines need to move in all directions. Spiral movements require moving the spine through several planes and may include lateral flexion, rotation, forward flexion, and depending on the specific exercise the spiral could include a spinal extension. Putting them together is the challenge and fun!
I do want to distinguish the difference between a spiral, circle movement experience versus an exclusively linear one. Incorporating more spiral movements frees the spine and creates greater articulation and overall spinal health. Joseph Pilates said, “We are only as young as the health of our spines…”
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 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 an inner wisdom. Seek straightness from the circle and see where it takes you!!