3 Upcoming Alexander Technique Classes

Body Project Blog ~ Where Thought is The Active Ingredient

Body Project Blog ~ Where Thought is The Active Ingredient

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 Body Balance
with Elyse Shafarman
Wednesdays 7–9pm · 2/15 – 3/15 · $150
Berkeley Rep School of Theatre
2025 Addison St, Berkeley CA 94704
Register Online, or email the registrar: school@berkeleyrep.org

Alexander Technique is a time-honored method used by actors to improve posture, breath, and movement. Effective movement liberates your acting skills and enriches your life. As you stop responding to the world in a habitual manner, new avenues of physical ease and creativity open up. Discover the Alexander Technique for body-mind balance. Let your body’s physical genius emerge! Open to all levels ·

Free your Voice & Free your Neck
with Elyse Shafarman
Sunday 1–2pm · 2/1915 · $35 earlybird by Feb 18 or $40 drop-in
Giggling Lotus Yoga
2325 3rd Street, Studio 318
San Francisco CA 94701

Discover how the Alexander Technique can free your voice and take your asana practice from effort to ease. Alexander Technique, sometimes called “the actors’ secret” is a time-honored method for developing vocal power and physical poise.

Together we will:

Identify psychological triggers and accompanying tension reactions
Learn anatomical keys for vocal support
Practice a reliable method for transforming tension habits
Open the throat, use the bones as resonators and breathe
Experience instant relief from Alexander Technique hands-on guidance

This workshop is appropriate for yoga teachers and anyone wishing to develop presence, ease and power as a communicator

Watch for upcoming classes:

  • Yoga and Alexander Technique (currently offering private sessions)
  • The Singing Body – Embodied Voice and Alexander Technique with Francesca Genco


The Bayou

I popped in 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 of the estuary blew across my face. I was lost, and should have been concerned, but it was a beautiful winter day. The sun sparkled, and the air was cool. I set off walking along the river bank. In my right hand, which was now a sharp metal hook, I held a rope leash leading the alligator beside me. My  pajamas looked like Huck Finn’s rags. A sixty-foot prehistoric barracuda cruised by. I thought it was an android. Side streets split away from the water beckoning with Chinese vegetables stands and 99- cent bargains.

I could have walked forever, but somehow I remembered my other life. I looked for the way up from the water’s edge. The bank was too steep. I was carrying bags, scarves, pens, my phones and other slippery objects in my left arm. In my right hook, I held the rope leash. My legs were rubbery and weak from the flu. I couldn’t climb out.

Five hours later, I was back in my living room, on the phone with my father, trying to explain what had happened.

My dreaming mind is not wasting time with subtly. I didn’t lose five hours, more like 18 years. From the moment at age 22 that I moved into my apartment on Guerrero St. and spent years wandering around San Francisco (no earbuds available in those days), in a state of semi-ecstasy from not eating, letting my skin melt to just the shimmer of an outline as my body dissolved into sky, light and the back drop of the city. I wasn’t one to dive into life and get messy. The Alexander Technique was my spiritual bypass, a way to perfection that didn’t cost. I held myself back and waited, missing all the usual the human drama of marriage and children. I’m not sure who likened eating disorders to a golden cage, but the metaphor is apt.

The trance began to break when I turned 40. Painful loss threw me into Pema Chodron’s pages and eventually meditation. A welcome disillusionment occurred, and I mean that word in an unusual positive translation. The illusions and stories fell apart. The practice of sitting and watching it all, breath by breath, provided courage to dive into the mess of life.

I walked home from the De Young Museum today, my 48th birthday, rushing into the few remaining patches of winter sunlight, still alone, but counting everything that is not wrong with my life. Middle age, it seems, is about having a constantly broken heart. Enough people that you have loved and have loved you fiercely are gone. More will leave. But regret, will just drive the trance deeper.

There’s no option of holding love back.


Alice’s Neck

Body Project Blog ~ Where Thought is The Active Ingredient

Body Project Blog ~ Where Thought is The Active Ingredient

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.


Solar Plexus

How does your solar plexus feel? Is it tense and tight? Jumpy? Or calm and relaxed? Whenever we have a fight/flight/freeze/feed/fornicate reaction the solar plexus (aka our breathing) gets involved. It’s fruitful to spend a few days, or a whole life time, simply checking in with the solar plexus, with no attempt to change conditions. Ask yourself, “How is my solar plexus responding to riding this bus, talking to my boss, giving this hug, walking in the rain?”

Notice that when the solar plexus is tight it draws the limbs inward towards it, like a magnet. The head, neck, throat, tongue and upper chest all get pulled down. The legs get drawn up. The arms get drawn in. You might feel like a turtle.http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/creating-literary-analysis/s05-01-literary-snapshot-alice-s-adve.html

As you walk around, play with letting the solar plexus soften. A suggestion from Autogenic Training is “My solar plexus is warm and comfortable.” See if this lets your head, neck and spine grow upwards. You might feel like Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps you’ll notice your legs falling away from the middle of your body, and your arms expanding out from center. You might feel like a starfish.