“To be what we are and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life. “
– Robert Louis Stevenson
“What Is Half Shall Become Whole
What Is Crooked Shall Become Straight.”
THINK LIKE DA VINCI
The Vitruvian Man is the epitome of proportion and symmetry. Its model, made famous by Leonardo Da Vinci, has been used for centuries in art and architecture. The top to bottom, left to right, and front to back proportions are equally balanced. No one part overpowers the other. All components blend to comprise a whole that is durable and useful as well as beautiful.
Symmetry is found in nature, in science, in religion, in philosophy, in music, in art and in the human anatomy. Clothing, architecture, automobiles and landscapes each share symmetrical beauty, efficiency, durability and usefulness in balanced designs. The honeycomb is one of the strongest constructions in nature. It is symmetrically balanced and beautifully executed, while being both durable and useful in function. The most beautiful faces are the most symmetrical. We are drawn to this symmetry. Beauty pleases us. In practicing our activities we must be aware of this symmetry to enable us to create useful, durable, and beautiful bodies.
“What Is Half Shall Become Whole,” is attained by being mechanically correct in your movements. Being correct means letting the left and right side equally pull or push through the exercise, isolating the muscle in the movement without cheating or accommodation. The body will become symmetrically balanced by letting the muscles move through a full range of motion over various planes of movement with different degrees of resistance, explosively when necessary, yet always with control; and with focus going to the side which needs it most instead of allowing the stronger side or larger muscle group to lead. By balancing the stresses throughout the body and across muscle groups, we can alleviate neck, shoulder and back pains in simply sharing the loads across our bodies and redistributing tension by stretching and opening up pathways for blood-flow and gravity to do their jobs.
Symmetry is to not carry your weight or your height too high or too low and to have your weight proportionate to your frame. It is alignment through the spine, by elongating it after a full day’s compression. An hour’s worth of free-hand exercises in a gym can have you standing straighter, no matter how much time you’ve spent on your feet. Simple stretching can bring you back into balance and is as beneficial to your mental state as it is invigorating to your physical state.
Most of our lives are spent in favor of a few positions spread over many hours throughout days and within weeks of activity. We may drive a lot. We may sit a lot. We may stand a lot. Our bodies tend to slouch into patterns when they get fatigued or even when they’re at rest. So it is important that we manipulate them into the most mechanically efficient strengths to compensate for posture and gravity.
When the body is taken care of, top to bottom, left to right, front to back, inside and out, “What is half shall become whole,” means the alignment of the system is working in tandem and not one singular area is doing more than its share of work. By reinforcing posture, balance and uniformity in our workouts, the benefits to our everyday symmetry come automatically.
“What is crooked shall become straight,” is the undoing of the overextended, forward thrust of our days, as our lifestyles dictate through driving, computing, counter jobs and the plethora of work that requires forward slouching for long periods of time. It is the lengthening of the posture and the upright structural alignment found by opening up the collarbones and shoulders, pulling down the shoulder blades, alleviating tightened lower backs and hamstrings, and initiating energy from the abdominal core. Disproportionate, slovenly, slouching, misaligned or ugly bodies turn us away, while beauty draws us in.
The body moves best in mechanical alignment. Therefore, exercising should be done, for the most part, at right angles, the way the joints hinge, rather than laterally across the tendons and ligaments. By forcing our bodies to concentrate on proper alignment when exercising – with chin up, scapulae down, abdominals, lower back and hip flexors tight during standing movements – we incorporate and take with us that alignment to our everyday lives, until eventually the correct posture at work replaces the detrimental stances that hurt us in the first place.
S. Y. M. M. E. T. R. Y.
S TRETCH – a single or series of direct movements which bring release to muscle tightness
Y OGA – a mind/ body connection that brings symmetry to the brain as well as brawn
M ECHANICS – alignment and positioning of body to apparatus or endeavor
M AINTENANCE – a vigilance to prevent misalignment and ensure readiness to performance
E QUALITY– training every part of the body rather than just the favorite parts, equally
T ONE – firming the muscles evenly, not just working, but tensing them
R ANGE OF MOTION – the most important aspect of fully utilizing and stimulating muscle
Y AXIS – the alignment of the spine which hinges the mirror image of symmetry
PULLING IT TOGETHER
By attending to all the aspects of SYMMETRY – Stretches, Yoga, Mechanics, Maintenance, Equality, Tone, Range-of-motion, and Y-axis imaging – you make “what is half, whole …and what is crooked, straight.” You balance not only your body, but also your lifestyle. You harmonize with the natural processes of nature, which dictate wholeness through a broad spectrum of stimuli and responses to an agile strength, built on form.