Dynamic opposition creates stability. This is one of the less frequently talked about principles of the Pilates method. I was familiar with this concept because it came up a lot in dance classes. Dancers tend to do this fairly naturally because it promotes a total body awareness, and three dimensionality that is great for performing. Basically dynamic opposition is the conscious decision to think about every action in two directions. If I’m thinking, “sit up straight” I’ll try to sense energy shooting through the crown of my head, but also energy grounding me down through my tailbone. If I’m thinking draw the shoulder blades down, I’ll also be thinking open the chest, broaden the shoulders.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This way of thinking keeps us from floating away, or getting pulled to the ground. We are always trying to search for the appropriate middle area, the elusive feeling of balance. Whether you are looking at your posture or your form when exercising try imagining pulling forces of energy. It turns out it is a lot more effective and much simpler than trying to list all of the things you think you should or should not be doing simultaneously. You might just find that things fall into place and find a more natural harmony.
I ran across this old interview with Irene Dowd that was published in Dance Magazine back in 2005. I love the way Irene describes movement and anatomy. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a workshop with her looking at the shoulder girdle and the anterior serratus. She is such an amazing teacher with the ability to break things down to a functional and graspable thought that can be applied to any movement practice.
In the interview, I especially love the question about visualization. Before we move we have to have some sort of idea of what the movement is going to be so we all use visualization whether we are conscious about it or not. Our brains are constantly communicating with the rest of our body. This becomes important when trying to correct old habits or change the way we initiate movement. Irene has extensive experience in re-training motor control processes and she does this through visualization techniques. You can re-train your body, it takes a bit of conscious thought and practice, but it can be done.
The question and answer below is great as well:
DO WE GET INTO TROUBLE BY HAVING A “RIGHT” IDEA OF HOW TO MOVE?
“Right” varies according to the movement goal. We are artists first, and our goal is to serve our art. “Right” is constantly changing. Mabel Todd used to say, “The mind is an instrument of thought, not a museum.” We are constantly learning.