Tag Archives: posture

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove – Photo Album

In a previous post I mentioned how I used to get tongue-tied or overly enthusiastic when someone asked the question “What is the Alexander Technique?”

Of course, it’ll always be difficult to describe an activity, any activity, that has such a large sensory component. So I promised to put up some photos, with comments, so you can at least get a fly on the wall perspective of what a typical Alexander Technique lesson might look like.

As a general rule, Alexander Technique teachers tend to work from the core of the body — neck, head and back – out towards the extremities ie the arms and legs. The major muscles that move the limbs, however, have their origins in the torso. So working with the neck, head back relationship automatically influences the movement of the arms and legs. The converse is also true – working with the arms and legs will reinforce release and expansion through the neck, head and back.

hnique Brighton BN1

“Allow your neck to be free”

Brighton & Hove Alexander Technique Hand on Neck

“Allow your neck to be free in such a way that your head can go forwards & upwards”

Hand on head. Brighton & Hove Islington Alexander Technique

“Allow your neck to be free & your head to go forwards & upwards so that your back can lengthen & widen”

Hands on the back. Brighton Hove Islington Alexander Technique

In practice most Alexander Technique teachers do not recite these directions parrot-fashion. The words and language tend to be naturalistic and tailored to fit the individual.

Arms & Legs– Although there are specific directions for the arms & legs often the teacher will ask the pupil to continue focussing on their neck, head and back relationship as they work with the arms and the legs.

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove London Islington. Taking arms during table work.JPG”

Legs

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove london Islington__Taking arms during table work

Chair-work

Alexander Technique Brighton, Hove & London chair work 

Alexander Technique Brighton & Hove - Helping pupil with bending. Also known as “Monkey”.
.
Alexander Technique Brighton & Hove. The deep squat.

It’s difficult to really capture the living, dynamic quality of an Alexander Technique lesson on a photograph. Young children often embody that Alexander quality unconsciously.

It isn’t just about moving in and out of a chair. It’s a convenient way of learning to move easily and efficiently. A convenient method that can be transferred into all sorts of everyday movements and activities. It’s a great method of learning to suspend habitual muscular and even emotional responses.

Alexander Technique for Horses part 4

The following day both Martha and Laura were due to have a lesson at their local riding school. I met them both afterwards. I do not know who looked more excited. Martha’s eyes and whole demeanour looked super awake and alert. She was holding her head and easily on top of her clearly lengthening spine. She appeared impressively open and broad cross her shoulders and upper chest. Her lower back had raised and filled out and her legs looked confidently planted underneath her.

“My teacher was really impressed with the way we both responded during the lesson today.” Laura told me. “She was particularly excited by the tight circles that such a big horse as Martha was managing, for the first time, to turn. Do you think the Alexander Technique could have helped that?”

“For a horse to be able to turn one side of its spine has to flex as the other side simultaneously extends. If even as few as two or three vertebrae are restricted by excess muscle tension then the mobility of the spine as a whole is reduced. Freeing those muscles and vertebrae should allow the horse to turn more easily. So, yes” I replied “the Alexander Technique could well have helped – particularly in that area at the base of Martha’s neck.”

Without suggesting that anyone can become an overnight Alexander teacher – in fact it takes three years of full time training- taking a little more time to consciously touch in the manner described above can, at the very least, do a lot to deepen the rapport between horse and rider. In human relationships the cool hand on the brow during emotional upsets and illness; the back rub after a physically demanding day can relieve stress and be of positive physical and emotional therapeutic value, The language of touch is perhaps an even more significant factor in the relationship between horse and rider.

NB It does have to be underlined that Martha is basically a hale, hearty and robust horse with no significant problems. The care mentioned above should not be thought of as a substitute for properly qualified professional advice.

Alexander Technique for Horses part 2

“Ok, then what happens? What do you do next?” Laura asked with growing curiosity.

“Well you don’t actually do anything as such. You continue to attend to your own all over balance as you place your hands on the horse. The hands are quietly attentive and enquiring. The more open and lengthened and widened your hands are the more sensitive they will be.”

“When you put hands on someone you can’t help affecting the recipient’s muscles. Muscles are attuned to the language of touch. The question is to get the touch happening in the right way so that the effect is positive rather than negative.”

Laura went on to place her hands on several different locations along the column of Martha ‘s neck. She took her time about doing this. Apart from being a mildly pleasant experience for all three of us there was nothing remarkable in what Laura felt with her hands or in Martha ‘s response.

Eventually Laura worked her way down to the base of Martha’s neck just above the shoulder blades. This is an area of profound constriction in many humans and Martha was proving to be no exception to this rule. Laura immediately picked this up.

“What do I do now?” she said excitedly.

“Exactly the same as before… Keep coming back to your own all over balance and to opening out your hands. It helped you to pick up the problem area perhaps it will also help you to release the tension this area.”

“Maybe you should take over now Alan” Laura said with a little concern.

“I don’t think so” I replied. A particularly peaceful atmosphere had descended over Laura, Martha and me. I didn’t think that Martha would appreciate me breaking the spell on account of my superior qualifications!

Teachers, Speakers and the Alexander Technique podcast

Teachers, speakers & the Alexander Technique

Dr. Harriet Anderson is an Alexander Technique teacher in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Anderson also teaches presentation skills and British & American studies  at the University of Vienna. In this podcast, Teachers, Speakers & the Alexander Technique , Dr Anderson talks about the performance aspect of teaching and how the Alexander Technique can help a teacher – or anyone who speaks to an audience – be more effective.

Harriet’s website is harrietanderson.com

Dr Harriet Anderson

Whether we like it or not, we are all performers. Everyday life is full of small stage entrances and exits. And whether we like it or not, every time we enter the classroom, we are putting on a performance. Which does not mean that we are entertainers or in any way play-acting. But it does suggest that it might be worthwhile considering how we could become better performers. Read more here…

A teenager describes the Alexander Technique in 40 seconds

A teenager describes the Alexander Technique in 40 seconds…

body learning alexander technique podcast website
body learning alexander technique podcast website

This interview is taken from the website of Robert Rickover. Robert and I trained as Alexander teachers at the same school roughly 30 years ago.  The young woman in question, Virginia Osterman, explains any facets of the Alexander Technique economically and in plain language in a manner that I, frankly, envy. Perhaps I’ll memorise it and use it for those social occassions when a quick and easy explanation would be so handy!

A teenager describes Alexander Technique

A teenager describes the Alexander Technique in 40 seconds…

Brighton Marathon using the Alexander Technique?

Master the art of running using the Alexander Technique

Master the Art of Running

‘Tis the season to run!  And with a big sporting events such as the Brighton Marathon coming up, there’s no better time to brush up on your technique to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body using the Alexander Technique – Linford Christie did!

Based on the teaching of Frederick Matthias Alexander, the Alexander Technique has been taught and practised for over a hundred years and focuses on positive ‘body use’ – ensuring correct, effective posture, and economy of movement and effort.  This means your musculo-skeletal system is working at its most effective to build strength and suppleness, help avoid injury and combat existing muscular or joint pain.

Malcom Balk, an Alexander teacher, running coach and author of ‘Master the Art of Running’, has some simple but effective suggestions that will help to build strength and suppleness and avoid injury;

THE HEAD LEADS AND THE BODY FOLLOWS Although we run in a forwards direction, the spine is happier lengthening upwards.  With this in mind, it is important to let the head remain quietly poised on top of the spine and to look ahead rather than down.

SHORTEN YOUR STRIDE Learning not to over stride and reduce braking is the key to running more efficiently.  So, stop reaching out with your foot and landing on the heel, instead, let your knees, not your feet lead the stride.

LIE DOWN BEFORE A RUN Before your run, take time to lie down and gently allow your spine to find its optimal resting length. This works much better than ‘posturing’ your self and will prepare you to run in more connected/conscious way.

PRACTICE & PERFECT RUNNING SLOWLY It’s harder in some ways to run slowly as there is less momentum to cover up your bad habits. You also have more of a chance to notice what’s happening when you slow down and pay attention.

Happy practice… See you out there on Hove Lawns!

Email Alan Mars or call on 07930 323 057

The Alexander Technique - move through your life with greater ease

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove – BMJ back pain video

The BMJ Back Pain Trial video

British Medical Journal trial- Alexander technique relieves low back pain…

Trial participants were taught the Alexander Technique to improve muscle tone, coordination, balance and movement skills. Participants were helped to recognise and avoid habits that caused or aggravated their pain.

 aa

All Alexander Technique lessons were provided on a one-to-one basis. Teachers used both hands-on teaching and adequate verbal explanation.

All the Alexander Technique teachers had been teaching for at least three years and were members of STAT, the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique


Brighton, Alexander Technique, BMJ, back pain, Hove, Sussex, fitness, posture

Alexander Technique Brighton – low back pain relief

Alexander Technique relieves low back pain…

Significant long-term benefit from Alexander Technique lessons for low back pain has been demonstrated by a major study published by the British Medical Journal on 20th August 2008

  • 24 AT lessons proved to be most beneficial
  • Six lessons followed by exercise were about 70% as effective as 24 lessons
  • Long-term benefits unlikely to be due to placebo effect
  • Lessons were one-to-one, provided by experienced STAT teachers

This was a scientific randomised controlled trial 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain; 144 were randomised to normal care, 147 to massage, 144 to six Alexander technique lessons, and 144 to 24 Alexander technique lessons; half of each of these groups were randomised to exercise prescription.

Link to BMJ trial

Alexander Technique, brighton, hove, low, back, pain, bmj

VIENNESE GRANNIES

This is a tale of how two Alexander Technique teachers’ were humiliated by a Viennese granny.
They do really do Christmas cheer well in Vienna. All the atmosphere and none of the stress of the UK. They even lay-on snow! Most years anyway…

My partner and I took a walk in Cobenzl, the Vienna woods, of a Sunday afternoon. A bit of a thaw had set in. The paths were perilously icey with only the edges still a little bit snowy. My partner had recently sustained a knee injury in Scottish country dancing ( that’s another story! ) and was doubly cautious. We crept stiffly along the side of the path staring fixedly at the ground two feet in front of us… when a Viennese granny powered past us at a high rate of knots, smiling broadly and drinking in the glorious surroundings with her eyes!

“How embarrassing” said my partner…“Yes, love, but you’ve got to consider that she’s got two specialised walkers’ sticks”And then a couple of runners, about our own age, overtook us, apparently oblivious to the danger underfoot!We crept on.
.

Not to be defeated, I asserted “But these Viennese know how to select the right type of ice gripping footwear.” A family, with three kids, ranging from nine to thirteen years, all wearing standard, international brand, trainers swept past us, deep in happy conversation… I decided to keep my mouth shut.
.

My partner, a Viennese resident, said “The Austrians just do snow so much better than we Brits. They all ice-skate and toboggan from infancy. They go on obligatory skiing courses in secondary school. And they all learn to waltz in sixth form. Here in the forest at least they are the Alexander experts.”
.

We didn’t adapt to ice anything like as easily as we adapted to water in Venice. But we still applied the Alexander Technique. When we walked we just walked. And when wanted to look we stopped. “Inhibited” to use the Alexander jargon. And marveled at the snowy, Christmas card, forest around us.

Venetian Grannys, posture & Alexander Technique

I’ve tended to take a pretty negative view of how environment and daily activities affect our co-ordination. Think of how the computer buff (most of us nowadays) shapes their physical structure, day after day, as they peer intently into their laptop. I’m happy to say that I’ve recently had two very pleasant experiences to challenge this view – a holiday in Venice and another in Vienna. Lucky me!

If you’ve visited Venice you’ll know about the vaporetto, the water bus service. The vaporetto stops are floating platforms (pontoons) that rock on the, mostly, gentle waves. It’s pretty easy to distinguish between tourists and locals. From an Alexander point of view the locals are more “up” and “poised” than the tourists – at least when they are travelling by water.

Here is a YouTube of one of these floating platforms aken from a vaporetto as it approaches…

Why do I say this? As the pontoon or vaporetto rocks and rolls tourists tended to look for something to grasp onto. Despite the wonders of Venice around them, tourists sometimes looked a bit tight and pulled down. The locals by contrast seemed easy and poised – even the elderly and quite frail Venetians stood unsupported and simply rolled with the waves.

More interesting still is the Traghetto – a gondola that ferries you across the canal from bank to bank. It’s used mostly by locals. It seems to be a point of pride with the locals to stand in these relatively small and precarious wooden craft as they navigate across the line of heavy water traffic. The few tourists who ride them seem to, quite wisely, sit on the benches.

I’I also speculated on the surprising fitness and trimness of these poised Venetian senior citizens. Well if you live in Venice you are a walker by definition – no cars, no bicycles. Just shanks pony and the boat!

Well, I decided that I had a vocational duty to ride the Venetian currents like a local. Let go of the hand-holds Alan! Free your neck, send your head up, lengthen and widen your back, roll with the waves and feast your eyes!