Category Archives: fitness

Alexander Technique and Horses part 3

“Muscles are designed to tense and contract a lot more quickly than they are designed to release. This is a very useful mechanism for helping us to get out of trouble in a hurry. Scientists call it the fight/flight response. However both horses and humans often find that these fight/flight responses can get out of hand.”

“The openness of your hands Martha’s neck and shoulder muscles a standard of ease towards which they can move. In order to do this her muscles need a sense of time and space … a moment of stillness and pause. Think of your hands simply melting like warm butter onto Martha’s neck'”

Laura stuck with the process. Martha started to move her heed gently from side to side and up and down a few times and then took several deep, sighing breaths. I noted this with some interest – humans often take a few deep breaths when they are starting to release the constrictions of the day during the course of an Alexander lesson. “I think I feel some release in Martha’s neck” Laura said with a mixture surprise and disbelief in

her voice.

“Yes I think you probably do” I confirmed “Now gently take your hands off Martha ‘s neck” Laura, hooked as she was into the process, looked disappointed but followed my suggestions.

“Pause for a moment. Give yourself the time and space to project your Alexander directions… allowing your neck to be free … your head to balance freely on top of your spine… and your back to lengthen and widen,”

Like many horses Martha had tendency to slightly drop and hollow her back and to trail her back legs.

“How would we deal with this using the Alexander Technique?” Laura was now wondering.

“In much the same way as we would deal with the corresponding tendency in humans. I usually begin by helping a pupil to balance their head and neck more effectively and then start working on their lower back, buttocks and knees.”

By the time Laura had work her way down to Martha’s buttocks and legs Martha’s head and neck had dropped down, her lower lip was trembling and she looked very peaceful and somewhat drowsy.

We realised that it was darker outside and had, without us noticing, become quite dim in the stable. We took Martha for a short walk in the field outside. She was a little bit disorientated for the first few minutes and then seemed to find her feet again.

Alexander Technique Running on Hove Lawns

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Out running today on Hove Lawns. A beautiful sunny January day. I recalled my initial running sessions with Alexander Technique teacher/marathon gold medallist Paul Collins.

Any time I ran behind Paul I was always really struck by the tiny, small steps he took. Smaller than many peoples walking steps even. Well, he did go on to win, veterans super-distance championships in the 1980’s.

It’s a method that really works. It gives you a sense of time in which you can both observe and organise yourself…

Running slowly in the morning sunlight. Running through my Alexander Technique “directions”…

  • Head balancing easily on top of my spine.
  • Neck free.
  • Back lengthening.
  • Widening across the shoulders.
  • Leading each step with the knee.
  • Small, rolling steps.
  • Looking right out along the length of Hove Lawns to the Peace Statue.

I’m not really trying to go anywhere fast, certainly not striving after a certain level of fitness, but a nice of smooth rhythm develops – a gentle endorphin ripple. And that winter sports injury seems to be subsiding nicely.

Alexander Technique Running on Hove Lawns