In the ITM Alexander Technique, ‘one thought’ is shared at the beginning of a students’ learning journey is this:
“The poise of the head in relation to the body in movement is the key to freedom and ease of motion.”
We share this idea because FM Alexander discovered that what he was doing with his head in relation to his body was primary, in either helping or hindering his activities.
During his career as an actor FM was plagued with throat trouble, to the extent that he would often lose his voice. The treatments prescribed by doctors didn’t help, and he eventually realised that it was “something he was doing in using his voice,” that was causing his troubles – in other words - it was the way he was using himself in reciting on stage that was causing his loss of voice.
FM set about finding out what he was doing. He realised that he was interfering with the relationship between his head and body (pulling his head back and down) and that when he could prevent this pulling down, he no longer lost his voice.
Sounds simple? Well, I suppose it is – but the preventing himself in pulling back and down was hard – it took him YEARS AND YEARS of experimenting and refining to work out how.
But he did work it out. He realised it wasn’t something physical that he needed to ‘DO’ (in fact any direct doing just made it worse). Instead, it was how he was thinking about his activity and the misconceptions he held about it that was at the heart of the issue.
Through his work he developed of a set of mental disciplines that allowed him to bring more reasoning intelligence to the way he was using himself in activity which indirectly resulted in him no longer losing his voice and greater ease and success in many more areas of his life.
So, the head-body relationship is important. In fact, humans are humans are reflexly organised in a cephalo-caudal manner…
What’s that you say?
In other words, we are organised to move from the head down: cephalo =head / caudal = tail.
(This was proved to be true in FM’s time by CharlesSherrington who won a noble prize for the findings of his not-so-nice experiments on amphibians).
We can use this physiological fact to our advantage, like FM, by preventing unnecessary muscular action between our head and our body. When we succeed, we enjoy the freedom and ease of motion for which we are designed. And we are designed WELL.
What is freedom and ease of motion? My teacher Don Weed, used an image to describe this: Fred Astaire dancing. Can you picture him? So fluid and graceful – almost effortless…
But he was using effort – of course he was or he wouldn’t have moved. But he was using just as much effort as he needed and NO MORE!
How wonderful! Imagine how much more energy you would have in your life if you used just as much effort and NO more?!
Well, there is good news!
FM shared his ideas, his experiences and the mental disciplines that worked for him. He pointed out the snakes and the ladders to save us the many years of work he put in. He it all down in wrote four books (his third book, Use of the Self is pictured) and trained students of his work to be teachers so they too could share the work. They in turn taught others, and they others, and they taught me!
Learning this work really is journey. I am ‘on the train to Alexander Land’ (as Don used to say!) – I have not reached the final destination – is there even a final destination when there is always more to learn and more to consider?
But, as a qualified ITM Alexander Technique teacher I’d be really happy share the principles with you so that you can start use them for yourself. Trust me - it’s a very fun (and at times maddening) journey to be on.
at The Family Practice, 116 Gloucester Road, BS7.
Details: It will be 6 sessions over 6 weeks; 1.5 hours each session where we'll talk about the principles of the Alexander Technique and apply them to your own activities in a series of lessons - be it jogging, singing, typing at a desk or simply sitting. It’s like having 8 lessons per session because you will learn so much from watching other people learn!
Times + investment: 7-8.30pm, The Family Practice, 116 Gloucester Road, BS7. £125 for the course and places are limited to 8 people. There is a discount for full time students, under 18s and and for teachers! Please email me to find out more about discounted places.
Hope to see you in class, Tuesday, November 28th, 9-10am at Scout Hut 6388 or Wednesday, 29th November, 8-9pm at YogaFurie. When I’d be happy to chat more about it Book online.