Laser point your way to length

In the Alexander Technique, we teach students how to find the easiest, most comfortable and most efficient way of balancing the head on the neck. This is by no means all we teach. In actuality, we teach freedom of choice and freedom from the prison of the habitual, but often, our habits are expressed in our carriage – most poignantly in the poise of our heads.

People often push the neck forward and the head down while working at the computer, texting, sitting and all the rest of life. If this is a habit, it can be hard to know where our head belongs.

Last Fall, I was working with a local college professor. I was searching for imagery that they* could easily understand. I suggested that they pretend they had a laser pointer on the top of their head. This allowed them to sense where the head was in space.

You can add imaginary laser pointers to the end of any limb to improve your body awareness and create sensations of length and expansion in your limbs.

What happens when you imagine laser pointers on your shoulders?

When you walk, what happens if you point up from the top of the head?

Final tip, this is all visual imagery. If you try and hold your self into a position you will get tense. See what happens when you let your imagination be the agent of change.

 

*I chose to use gender neutral pronouns for this blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Sitting Help

By Bjoertvedt - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27198216

By Bjoertvedt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Stand up. Find your hip joints. Locate your “bikini” line, and find the place where, if you press into it, your pelvis will shoot back in space. That’s where your hip joint is. Note that this is just the frontal plane. Your hip joint is a 3D structure, and exists on the side and backplane of your pelvis also.

Place your thumbs in your hips joints and your hands around your leg bones, so that you can feel for the rotation of your thighs (femurs) as you flex and extend your pelvis. When you send your pelvis back in space, notice that your femurs internally rotate. You might be able to feel a slight widening in the sit bones. When you extend your hip joints, you will feel external rotation of the femurs, coupled with a narrowing of the sit bones.

You can also practice sitting in a chair. Explore a gentle motion of rocking forwards and backwards on your sit bones. Sense the widening of your sit bones as your rock forward, coupled with internal rotation of the femurs. Sense the narrowing of your sit bones as you rock backwards, coupled with external rotation of the thighs. Find a balance point with the pelvis slightly tilted forward (sit bones widening). This helps to establish the lumbar curve of your back and will make sitting upright feel much easier. The slight lumbar curve will also help to release the shoulders as the fascia of the back will tend to tug the shoulder blades down a bit.

How does this differ from how you ordinarily sit?

Most people have a hard time finding and moving from the hip joints. Do you bend your head forward or extend your chest instead of moving at the hip joint? To isolate the movement to your hip joints, it’s helpful to imagine a marble sliding down the chute of the spine. When it reaches the tailbone, that’s the moment to lean forward.

As a final note, this type of mechanical guidance does not sum up the Alexander technique, which I would frame as a holistic method for enhancing our conscious lived experience of being embodied. I offer this mechanical exploration, because so many of my students have discomfort sitting.

Knowing a little bit about the geometry of your bones can make a tiresome daily activity easier.

Perfect Furniture

“Boy! I wish I had met you before I bought all my furniture,” said my new student, a high powered trial attorney suffering from back pain. “I thought I was buying really good sofas and chairs, but I realize that the headrests push my neck forward, and that the seats are too deep. They are probably perfect for really big men, my son loves them.

Also I bought a really expensive chair for my office. I could have saved a lot of money…”

“In just three Alexander Technique lessons,” she continued, “I’ve learned how to sit on my sit-bones. That takes away so much pain because I’m not collapsing backwards on my spine. I notice all the time now when I am crunching my body into unusual shapes, and I understand how to use myself better.

“Use” is a term in the Alexander Technique that refers to our choices, conscious or unconscious, about how we arrange our bodies in life. Most of us, by the time we are adults, have spent years squishing our bodies into painful positions. We seek the relief of perfect furniture, but find that even the most expensive items do not properly support our spines. Nor are they portable in our everyday lives.

The good news is that you already have a perfect and priceless piece of furniture, one that always travels with you, and can always make you feel comfortable — your skeleton. All you need is a mind that has learned how to balance your bones. The results is much less pain, and possibly big savings on furniture.

After Alexander Technique lessons, my students often prefer a $25 wooden chair from Ikea to a $1,181 Aeron chair.

Or, they learn to work standing.

Or I teach them how to lie down and work.

Try the Alexander Technique and learn how to depend on your skeleton for support, not your furniture.