Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bomb in the Broom Cupboard

 Many years before I decided to train in the Alexander Technique, I went through a couple of spells of back pain. Nothing too serious, but they did make me think a bit at the time.
I must have been misusing my back without realizing it, because one day it just decided to teach me a lesson. I wasn't even doing anything too strenuous at the time, just ambling through the day's chores. I bent to pick up a piece of paper from the floor, and – something shifted somewhere in the region of my hips. It was a really strange feeling; something had decided to happen inside me without my knowledge or permission, and it was just going ahead with it.
Slowly and carefully, I straightened up; I had the feeling that if I moved too fast, or unthinkingly, my top half would detach from my bottom half and fall off.
I didn’t go to the doctor that day, silly as that sounds. There was no pain, and I didn’t quite know what I’d tell him. But at the end of the day, when I found myself taking five minutes (making sure that my toP and bottom halves were moving together!) to  cross a room  which I used to do in five seconds, I went.
I don’t remember what he said; he did some manipulations and something clicked back into position. I did the exercises he suggested, used my knees instead of my waist to bend, and kept myself reasonably fit.
But it did start me thinking. I’d had no inkling, as I went about my daily life, that I was doing something potentially so harmful to my back.

And that question led me, with many deviations and a lot of sidetracking, to the Alexander Technique. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Being Happy Can Hurt!

Celebrating - Too Much Going On!

The festive season is upon us once again. We can throw ourselves into the routine of shopping for gifts (for ourselves and others), parties, meeting family, holiday trips…

At a time like this it seems a bit odd to talk about tension. Whatever  our problems, most of us can - and do - give ourselves over to wholeheartedly enjoying the festivities.

Have you ever considered that happiness can make you tense as well, and hurt you as much as unhappiness can?

We’re all familiar with the idea that problems bring stress, stress brings tension, tension affects our bodies and causes problems.

Now you can replace the word ‘problems’ in that sentence with ‘enjoyment’, or ‘festivities’, or ‘parties’ and it would be just as true. Our muscles can be as over active when we’re happy and excited as they can be when we’re trying get through work or personal crises.

Try to notice what’s going on with you when you’re, say, at a party, or a family celebration. You might notice that there’s actually quite a lot of unnecessary tension in your muscles, which you could let go of, and still enjoy yourself just as thoroughly. Even better, perhaps.

A core of quietness brings more spontaneity into our actions, deepens enjoyment, and, as a bonus, protects us from injury. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Letting Go

The Alexander Technique is all about letting go.

This makes it seem as if the Alexander Technique is all about relaxing, of letting go of all tension.

But then when I tell you that the Alexander Technique can be used say, in pushing a heavy sofa to the other end of the room, or holding a full shopping bag, it doesn’t make sense, does it? How does relaxing completely, square with working hard?

The Alexander Technique is all about letting go, not of all tension, but of excess tension. 

Some tension is required when we're doing something that requires force - like this child kicking the ball.  

 What we don't need is the ever present tightness in us that we’re not even aware of - as if we’re in a constant state of readiness to go into action, even when we’re sitting quietly, or resting.

Try it. As you’re sitting and reading this, tell yourself to lighten up, to relax a bit. There’s a pretty strong possibility that you’ll feel some tension fall away. That’s the tension we don’t need, and we're really not aware of the extent of its effect on us. 

That’s what we learn to let go with the Alexander Technique,