As an artist I’ve always loved to draw curved shapes – the curves of the human form and curves from nature. Straight lines have never had much appeal. I say I can’t draw a straight line but I think the truth is that I’m just not very interested in them. Give me a human body, flowers and objects from nature that I can observe closely, and then I’m inspired to begin drawing.
Inherent in the curves of the human form and in nature, are spirals. Spirals have a quality that is especially satisfying to observe, touch or draw. Shells of snails, cascades of waterfalls, unfolding of leaves around a stem, the petals of a rose, all display a spiral.
Our bodies are composed of spirals. The heart is both an organ and a muscle that spirals in and around itself – formed by the gushing of blood from the Mother’s placenta into two tubes of spiralling muscle. The bones spiral, recede and curve, the striations within them spiralling downwards, so that the force of weight can be transferred to the earth. In turn, our muscles wrap around the bones in a continuous network of spiralling movement.
As babies we performed a spiral movement in order to roll from back to belly and from belly to back. This is called ‘contralateral movement’. I was lucky enough to witness and capture the very first spiral movement made by the baby here. I photographed him every month for a year in order to document his movement development. He seems to be looking slightly surprised and I think a little bit pleased with his achievement:
Most of us would have become adept at this movement as babies, but as adults it can be tricky to do the moves with clarity and ease. We practised Spirals in class this week. Afterwards I asked everyone how they felt. Some people said ‘relaxed’, others said ‘awake’. It seems to me to have an effect that perfectly balances the nervous system so that there is a quality of alertness, ease and relaxation all at the same time. Spirals are fun – I have a student who likes to spiral down a grassy bank in summer with her grandchildren. Occasionally in class we spiral from one side of the room to the other. Some people end up a little bit sick and dizzy but everyone is laughing.
See how to do the movements in this video: Spiral
Here is a description of how to do the move:
Begin in a supine position with arms and legs outstretched. The initiation of the movement is from the peripheries of your body, and arms and legs stay straight.
Cross your right leg over the left and reach through that leg until you have spiralled your way onto the front of your body. Now raise your right arm, look to your right hand and reach through your arm until you have spiralled your way onto your back again. Repeat with your left leg and then left arm.