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Motor Imagery, Direction & Being

Interesting day teaching playing with the difference between direction as motor imagery (i.e. imaging yourself riding a bike) versus visual imagery (imaging a tree). Re-reading the very pop science, “The Body has a Mind of its Own,” and was reminded that it’s only motor imagery that seems to modify the brain’s body schema. It’s motor imagery that is the key to all those famous leaps in performance due to imaging …Read More

We all live in a body. It pays to be aware of this.

Reading the first round of student homework from the University Somatics Course I am co-teaching, was a great example of the multiple positive results from simply being aware of living in a body. Students chose to practice a body scan meditation, a walking meditation, or a Feldenkrais exercise five days in a row. After a week, student comments included feeling as if they had given their whole body a massage …Read More

Transform anger and powerlessness into the positive energy of participation

Ordinarily I don’t share my political views on my professional page. The healing touch of Alexander Technique is for everyone regardless of political affiliations. That said, many of my clients are traumatized, angry and fearful months after the elections. A recent article on PBS’s news hour attests that these anxious emotions are so widespread they’ve been dubbed “Post Election Stress Disorder.” I have two remedies to suggest. The first is …Read More

Quick tips for unpacking complicated scientific articles

Someone commented that the article I referenced in my last blog post looked interesting, but not easy to understand. Here’s the article. Proactive selective inhibition targeted at the neck muscles: this proximal constraint facilitates learning and regulates global control, Loram et al. 2016 Decide for yourself. The good news is that even if you don’t have a background in statistics or knowledge of specific laboratory procedures, you can read selectively, …Read More

New study shows that reducing neck tension improves coordination

An elegant new study by Professor Ian Loram’s group in the UK demonstrates that stopping neck tension improves coordination of the whole body. Participants used ultrasound biofeedback to monitor activity of neck muscles while playing violin – as well as other less complex tasks. Results showed that when participants reduced activation in the neck they spontaneously changed the movement of their whole body in ways that both increased efficiency and …Read More

3 Upcoming Alexander Technique Classes

HH 450 Somatic Education & Holistic Health with Elyse Shafarman & Cliff Smyth Thursdays 4:10–6:55 pm · 1/23 – 5/18 Gymnasium 114 San Francisco State University 1900 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132 Info: ihhs@sfsu.edu Survey of somatic traditions such as Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Aikido, Biogenetics, Hakomi, Reflexology, Rolfing, Trager and yoga therapy. History, philosophy, and sensory awareness methods of Somatics, from a self-care education approach. Alexander Technique for Mind …Read More

The Bayou

I popped on my ear buds, chose a science podcast and walked out my front door. When I came-to five hours later, I was somewhere in Bay View, which I called “The Bay View,” and pretty soon just The Bayou. I could tell it was the Bayou because of the large gully that I was walking alongside and the distant view of Twin Peaks and Bernal Hill. The salt scent …Read More

Alice’s Neck

Notice your solar plexus. That’s the soft area right between your ribs. It’s the place, where, if punched, knocks the wind out of you. The solar plexus is where your diaphragm, your principal breathing muscle, lives. Isadora Duncan (the famous innovator of modern dance) believed that the solar plexus initiated all movement and was the center of sensory awareness. How does your solar plexus feel? Is it tense and tight? …Read More

Primitive Remedies and Their Defects, MSI, Chapter II

Reading FM Alexander ~ One, in what will likely be a series of essays In the second chapter of Man’s Supreme Inheritance (MSI), FM Alexander rails against popular cures for the, “mental, nervous and muscular debility,” (pp. 5), which even in 1910 London were common symptoms of the type of work/life stress that we are all too familiar with today. Specifically, Alexander picks on physical culture (i.e. structured exercise), deep …Read More

The Use of The Self

I’ve suffered for years as a teacher trying and failing to teach a form (i.e. the FM Alexander Technique). After spending a week with my nose buried in a pile of books in the hopes of creating a Somatics course syllabus for a batch of unsuspecting SFSU students, the insight that I lacked for the previous 13 years suddenly arrived. It’s not about teaching people a technique, it’s about teaching …Read More