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Noël Coward, IKEA stools and "The Golden Point"

As you will have guessed Alexander Technique teachers have been forbidden from working hands-on during Tier 4 and this current lockdown. No surprises there but I still don’t quite understand why physiotherapists and the like are allowed to continue while we are not. Ho hum.

Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan and Noël Coward

You may have read in the papers that the actor Alan Rickman’s 27 volumes of diaries are to be published in one volume. Alan was a huge fan of the Technique and I will be putting the diaries down on my Christmas list next year. Here is a great article written by Alexander teacher Tom Vasiliades who worked with Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan during the Broadway production of Noël Coward’s Private Lives. “Of this experience Rickman wrote: "With the best intentions, the job of acting can become a display of accumulated bad habits, trapped instincts and blocked energies. Working with Tom and the Alexander Technique to untangle the wires has given me sightings of another way. Mind and body, work and life together. Real imaginative freedom." Great stuff.

IKEA Stools, Bottoms and Surfaces

A client asked me when we were still working in Tier 3 what the best kind of chair is. Well, of course, the Alexander answer is the furniture doesn’t matter, it’s your use that counts. All well and good but there are a couple of pointers worth bearing in mind:

  • chairs that slope backwards from the knee to the hip are not ideal. Unfortunately this is exactly the type of chair found in schools . Chairs that stack need this slope or they will fall over when stacked. STAT ran a campaign against such chairs a few years ago – see here for details

  • I tend to sit on one of those £9 Ikea Frosta stools when working as they have a perfectly level sitting surface. My bum gets a bit numb if I sit on it for a long time, I often fold a yoga mat and put it on the seat

  • which leads to the next point, don’t sit for too long! Get up and move around regularly

  • ...and of course, check in with yourself as often as you can. “I let my neck be free, so my head can go forward and up, so my back can lengthen and widen, so my knees can go forward and away…” you know the deal. Use your inhibition and direction to your benefit.

!!!STOP PRESS!!! IKEA have discontinued the Frosta stool!! What will we Alexander teachers do??

The Golden Point

In early December I had the pleasure of giving a first lesson to David, an acting student over from Rome. David took to the Technique like a duck to water and David, if you are reading, I do hope you won’t mind my quoting you. David said: “It’s like trying to find the golden point” …. exactly. We’re looking for that fine balance at which no muscle is over- or under-used, we are going “up” and everything comes into balance such that we feel like we are supposed to feel. Good on you David. Career development!

In other news, one of the reasons it has taken me so long to email is that in September I enrolled at the College of Integrated Nutrition and Homeopathy to do their 2-year intensive course. If all goes well I will qualify as a nutritionist and a homeopath in July 2022… The course is really quite intensive and I spent much of my spare time in the run up Christmas and in early January researching and writing 2 assignments of 5,000 words each. And the first year is the easy year; in year 2 I need to complete at least 50 clinic hours as well as monthly assignments and appointments with a supervisor to qualify. But I am loving the course, it is well organised and the teachers are brilliant and very experienced. Also so many Alexander ideas cross over with this work, not least the idea of “psycho-physical unity”. Our nutrition teacher keeps reminding us we are not only what we eat and drink but also what we think. Watch this space. A very happy 2021 to all of you. I do hope you are all finding ways through these strange times, I would be very interested to hear what you are up to, please drop me a line. Don’t forget the Technique, and I will see you as soon as things allow.


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