Fitness Focus: Opposition
The goal of Pilates is to develop a strong core FIRST, then continue to build the other muscles in the body which is now supported by this strong core. One of the principles that helps to do this effectively and efficiently is the principle of opposition. In Pilates practice, we do not “isolate” the muscle groups like traditional strength training. Instead we focus on movement in opposition. In this type of movement, one group of muscles is lengthened and controlled while the opposing muscles are used to stabilize the body during the movement. So, the muscles are being lengthened and strengthened at the same time. What are the “opposing muscles”? These are the muscles that do the opposite of the working muscle. For example, if you are flexing your biceps, you are extending your triceps. Another opposing muscle group is the quadricep and the hamstring. In Pilates, movements work opposing muscle groups simultaneously for an efficient, balanced, and functional routine. An example of working in opposition is the exercise “Standing Roll Down”. As you practice this movement, keep in mind the opposites at work in your body as you move. (You contract the abdominals in order to support your body as you stretch the lower back. When you round the chest, the upper back muscles stretch. In addition, the hamstrings stretch as the quads engage to create stability as you roll down toward the floor.)
Here are the directions for Standing Roll Down:
feet hip-width apart, hips level, shoulders back and down
lift through the crown of the head, inhale to begin
exhale as you pull your chin to chest, navel to spine.
Rolling down one vertebrae at a time.
Inhale at the bottom of the movement,
then exhale to pull navel to spine, and roll back up into standing alignment position.
Faith focus: Opposition
Working in Opposition is the key to creating a strong core in the physical body. The body’s use of its own resistance creates exactly the right amount of “work” for our body, just enough to challenge and strengthen while creating support for effective and protected movement. Our faith is also made stronger by working in opposition. Although we often like to stay in our “comfort zone” of church, church friends, etc. to strengthen our faith through worship and Bible Study, sometimes we are called to “work in opposition”. God asks us to “flex” a spiritual muscle we have that is strong in order to “stretch” one that is weak. Here is an example from my own recent experience:
Recently, I felt that the Lord was calling me to work with the children of our church using something called “Godly Play”. I seem to enjoy and be fairly good at “telling stories”, so when this new curriculum was introduced and storytelling was a main component, I jumped at the chance. What I did not realize at the time was that God was asking me to “flex” my storytelling muscles as he “stretched” me in other areas. You see, everything that makes me a “good” storyteller in other situations is not used in Godly Play—no accents, facial expressions, costumes, etc. I had to learn to speak softly, stay calm and facilitate 15+ children in “discovering God” on their own. It became apparent to me that God was stretching my need to control the children, and in turn, He revealed to me that this same type of calm behavior, speaking technique, was something that God would want me to use with my own children in our home. Well, that IS working in opposition for me!!! I am NOT always controlled, calm, and used to “allowing discovery” from my children. Each week as I “flex” my storytelling muscles for Godly Play, I learn to “stretch” myself as I try to use a more calming, peaceful tone with my children. I hope you will think about how God might be calling you to “work in opposition” this week. What strong spiritual “muscle” is he asking you to flex as He seeks to stretch you in another area?