Helping my son with his biology homework, a project on the Harris hawk, we came upon
Newtons third law of motion in a round about way that involved many repetitions of the phrase.. “Don’t just look at Wikipedia, you need other sources, how about those Encyclopaedias your Nana got for you, yes REAL books?” So finally he looks more widely into flight and how the wings work and comes across a reference to Newtons law, so we look it up ( on Wikipedia of course !) and here we have it..
"When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body."
or more concisely..
“Every action has an equivalent and opposite reaction… “
And in giving my boy a range of practical examples to help him understand it struck me that this was another way in which to explain one of the key movement principles we use in our development and that is what this post is about...
There is a sequence of actions that was described by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen ( founder of Body Mind Centering ®), that underpin all of our movements.
Yield, Push, Reach, Pull,
Simple words and instrumental principles that we utilise to move through space.
Yielding- is the first lesson we learn, how to give of ourselves to gravity. Yield is a hard word to translate into other languages because it is subtle in its meaning. It implies a surrender but not losing control- it is a a positive and totally empowered action. One could say that in yielding our body into the floor we are entering a mutually consensual and aware relationship with gravity.
What I liked about Newtons simple words is that they help me explain why and how the next word in that sequence follows- the push...
You see babies need to be able to yield into gravity on their tummies in order to find the power to push up and away from it again. Whenever I have come across this concept in classes or workshops we work experientially. We yield our weight and experience a counterforce - a subtle resonance or push back from the floor. It can be hard to discern because we offer that action, that yield, slowly and gradually so unlike the act of slamming down our arm on a table - ouch!- where the action is forceful so the reaction is forceful aka painful. This gentle initiation of a push that we feel in our tissues is equivalent to the slow and gentle release that has preceded it is much harder to discern and so it seems mysterious, esoteric even. Somehow framing it within this basic principle of Newtonian physics makes it more accessible… we are trying to physically feel a very clear ‘equivalent and opposite reaction’. just that - Thank you Newton!