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5 more "personal positives" from the Alexander Technique

I left my last blog post with a bit of a cliff-hanger … I’d listed out 5 benefits that I have personally gained from the Alexander Technique, with a promise of 5 more to come. Here they are!

 

Just a reminder to those who may not have read my last post. There, I set out some areas of my life that have improved since I started using the Alexander Technique about 30 years ago. Please bear in mind that these are things that I have benefitted from personally; in other words, I cannot promise that they will be experienced by everyone who studies this marvellous skill.

 

So, here we go:

 

6.     Improved sleep


Yep, definitely. A bit of detail here; I seem to sleep better than a lot of my peers (though that could be other factors). One thing the AT does is that it helps you to drop off to sleep again if you do wake in the night. Next time that happens, try lying in semi-supine (or in any position to be honest) and giving your directions, without getting too involved in how they play out. Just keep going round your body…you know, let your neck be free, give your head away to the pillow and your back to the mattress, let out your spine, let your front float above your back, etc etc. Keep going and you might just find you drift off again.

 

Another way to fall asleep if you simply can’t drop off is to grab your nearest copy of any FM Alexander book, (“Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual” by my bedside at the moment, what a title eh?) and read a few of his convoluted sentences. You'll have forgotten the beginning of a sentence before you get to the end. Sends anyone back to dreamland. Sorry Mr Alexander…

 

7.     Being not quite so reactive

 

(Well, most of the time. I do occasionally scream and shout, and did so with alarming frequency during lockdown, which I simply couldn’t bear). But there is something about the Technique’s teaching of inhibiting your first reaction that is very constructive, to use Alexander’s vocabulary. So your teenage son loses his fifth stainless steel water bottle in a row, and somehow you don’t fly off the handle. And manage to keep your heels on the ground. Amazing.

 

There is also something about the principle of “means whereby” rather than “end-gaining” that gets under your skin. Before you know it, you are cleaning the bathroom without rushing through it, actually thinking about freeing your neck as you scrub the bath, and thinking, my goodness, look at me, embodying the principles. And the result? You don’t feel quite so ragged at the end of the task.

 

8.     Improved singing



Perhaps not quite top of everyone’s list!! I used to be a member of a community choir, before we moved away from Southfields, and I do think my singing got better. (I have no-one else to attest to this, mind you, you’ll just

have to take me at my word). I will never be the next Florence Welch, but I could hit the high notes more easily, and sustain notes also. I was lucky enough to be taught voice work by the inimitable Alan Philps when I was doing my AT teacher training, and it was this teaching that prompted me to join a choir, where I could put what he taught into practice. I still love singing, though mainly in the kitchen as I’m cooking dinner. I’m still on the look out for my next choir to join.


 

9.     Improved running

 

Thinking in Alexandrian terms about how you are doing any form of exercise or movement is likely to improve it. It is from this idea that many Alexander “offshoots” have grown up – Steven Shaw’s Shaw Method for swimming, Malcolm Baulk’s “The Art of Running”, I don’t know if Joe Searby is still doing “Monkeys on Bicycles”, and (my personal favourite), “Ease on Skis” – the invention of Erik Bendix, I think.

 

I did Malcolm Baulk’s “The Art of Running” course many moons ago – he videos participants as they run and gives individual feedback on how to improve. It’s very effective. Again, I’ll never be a Zola Budd but I’ve done lots and lots of 10k races and a half-marathon in pretty decent times and without injury. I would recommend Malcom’s course to any runners out there.

 

10.     A renewed appreciation of gravity

 

Ok, strictly speaking, not a benefit, but the Technique has changed my relationship with the eternal downwards pull of the planet we live on. To me, this is the essence of the Alexander Technique – you can either let gravity pull you down in a whole variety of unhelpful ways, or you choose to harness the power of gravity in a constructive (that word again) way. You know this – I say these things all the time in lessons. You let your head balance delicately and with poise at the very top of your spine in such a way that it is completely free; this in turn means that no muscle group in your neck or torso is being called upon unnecessarily to keep you upright, your limbs free up, and you experience that wonderful lightness that the AT can help bring about. None of this would be possible without gravity. Also, notice the next time you have a lesson, the more you free up the spine and allow the head to balance, the better contact with eh ground you experience – again, gravity working its wonders.

 

I’m sure I could think up more benefits given time, but that’s all for now, folks! See you in a lesson soon.

 

Marie

 

 

 

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