I’d like to tell you a story about the Alexander Technique… the Alexander Technique… and handstands!
It’s a little illustration of how I have applied this work to something I love. But it’s worth noting that this can be applied to any activity that interests you – from going upside down to playing a piece of music – or simply putting on your socks...
If this story resonates you can join me for a 6 week introduction to the Alexander Technique course starting on the 22nd Feb at the Family Practice, 116 Gloucester Road, BS7 9BJ.
Now. As anyone who has ever been on a camping trip with me – or outside in an open space for more than half an hour can attest to, I love handstands.
But I can’t do them. Not actually, not properly. NOT YET!
But I am getting better at them. Finally. I am finally making progress…. one tiny miraculous step at a time.
I can now sometimes actually hold a handstand for more than a few seconds. In straddle, in tuck, even with both legs straight. I can now even take a few breaths while I remain there.
You have to know that this really is a miracle. I truly thought for a long time that handstands were physically impossible for me.
I have been trying to handstand for 40 years! All the progress has happened in the last 5. Before that my efforts to learn how to handstand looked like this:
Hands on the ground.
Kick legs in the air.
Hope like hell.
Topple over. REPEAT.
Over and over and over again.
Did it deter me?
NO! I would keep going (back then I had energy). Literally repeating the same actions over and over again in the hope that one day it would work. I would eventually stick there – feet overhead – in perfect balance.
I have to say, IT NEVER WORKED. NOT ONCE.
The hilarious thing is, that despite the fact that it had never worked I kept faithfully repeating it.
Never did I once consider that my plan for handstands might be WRONG FOR THE PURPOSE of handstanding.
No. I just thought that I needed to do my same wrong plan better. Over and over and over again until I was faster, fitter and stronger.
It didn’t occur to me that no matter how well I did my plan it could never work. It simply was THE WRONG PLAN. The only thing that would work was to change my plan.
So what changed?
Well, I met the principles of the Alexander Technique, and with some excellent tutoring from the wonderful team of ITM Alexander Technique Teachers – I made the decision to apply them to my own life.
I learnt that:
I do have a plan. Which my body faithfully carries out (in the absence of injury or disease).
Sometimes that plan is not going to get me where I want to go.
Sometimes you need to make completely new plan. One that you reason out as being able to take you where you need to go.
A plan that perhaps you can’t even imagine yet.
So, I went and got some ideas for these new plans for handstands from some expert handstanders who can actually handstand (thank you Michelle Toll and Circomedia!)
I learned that applying these new plans is sometimes thwarted by the fact that new a plan FEELS weird, and that what feels weird often feels WRONG – and that humans don’t often do things that feel wrong. We all like to be right and feel right.
But I also learnt that what feels RIGHT is simply often just what feels familiar, i.e the same old bad plan for handstands felt so right and familiar and friendly despite the fact that it didn’t get me where I want to be. That I just kept on doing it.
I learnt that feeling are unreliable… (not always wrong but sometimes misleading because we interpret them through the lens of prior experiences).
I also learnt that FM Alexander developed a set of mental tools to overcome these barriers to putting new plans into action.
And I am learning how to use them for myself. Slowly!
So, here I am – making slow progress. But I am no longer just kicking and praying. I have a reasoned plan. When the plan proves to be wrong for the purpose I start again, reasoning out a new plan based on what I have learnt. I move forwards. Step by step.
How about you? Is there an old bad plan hanging about in your life that you’d like to examine and change? Playing that same piece of music where you always get stuck at the SAME BIT?
Or maybe you need to make a new plan? I fell off my bike the other day and jarred by back and suddenly my old plan for putting my socks on is no longer appropriate! I need a new plan so I don’t end up wincing.
OR maybe you HAVE made a new plan. But it’s so new and shiny AND TERRIFYING that you can’t begin it.
I really get it! I have been/am in all of those places – and have found that the Alexander Technique can help reason out how to move forward.
I’d love to share these ideas with you! Join me for a 6 week introduction to the Alexander Technique course starting on the 22nd Feb at the Family Practice, 116 Gloucester Road, BS7 9BJ.
✨ 6-week course exploring how you can apply the principles of the Alexander Technique to bring freedom & ease of motion to all you do.
✨Thursdays, 7-8.30pm, 22 Feb-28 March, at The Family Practice, 116 Gloucester Road, BS7.
✨Investment £125 | Discounts for Students | Places limited to 8 people. Book HERE