by Barbara McCrane
Boy, is my answer to this question tired!! As a 20-year teacher of the Alexander Technique, I have some stock answers to common questions. While it’s great to discover trusted ways to explain Alexander concepts and stick with them, sometimes our tried and true responses can become uninspired. To inspire myself (and you), I asked some experienced colleagues how they answer this very typical Alexander question. (more…)
By Harriet R. Barry
Alexander Technique teachers know, but the public may not, that the Alexander Technique is an educational process. It helps the individual become aware of how the habits of body contributed to and can cause unnecessary muscular effort, and often pain. Alexander Technique lessons are painless, and allows the student to unlearn old habits of body use and movement, replacing them with new habits that leave the student feeling lighter and freer.
I am a childbirth educator with a private practice and a faculty member in the Parent Family Education program in the Department of Obstetrics of a major New York City hospital. The woman’s uterus is shaped like an upside down pear and is a muscle consisting of 2 layers of elastic type tissue arranged in different positions. As it grows, nourishing and supporting the unborn baby, the woman’s body changes dramatically, especially with a large lordosis (curved lower back). Lordosis refers to your natural curve, which is normal. If the curve arches too far inward, it can affect the lower back and neck. This can lead to excess pressure on the spine, causing pain and discomfort. (more…)
by Allyna Steinberg
Becoming a parent is an extremely special time that brings both great joy and new challenges for expecting parents, such as pregnancy pain, fear of childbirth pain, and the strain carrying one’s newborn. With Alexander Technique lessons, pregnant people and their partners and support teams can learn fundamentals of movement to help them get out of the way of natural processes in order to support and ease these life transitions.
To bring the many benefits of the Alexander Technique to life, I interviewed Heather Gardner whose Alexander Technique lessons played a key role during pregnancy and life with her son Ben. (more…)
by Karen Krueger
I know I’m not alone in feeling that at this moment in time and history, I need all my self-care skills and then some. The Alexander Technique is at the top of my list.
I can use my Alexander Technique skills in any given moment, in any given activity. Noticing what I am thinking and feeling; choosing not to react immediately; considering how I might direct my attention and energy; choosing not to attack problems and obstacles directly and immediate, but rather initiating movement towards my goal with attention to the process of movement: these simple but profound steps are life-altering. (more…)
by Barbara Curialle
Full disclosure: I marched against the Vietnam War years ago and much later against the war in Iraq. I eat kale and arugula. I volunteered and voted for Hillary Clinton, and have been in mourning ever since election day. Having said that, I will add that this is not a political blog!
I think the situation I found myself in on inauguration day could happen to anyone, regardless of politics or even in a nonpolitical situation.
Since the 1960s, I’ve been distrustful of “hard hats,” as we called them, because of their opposition—sometimes physical and nearly always sexist—to “commie hippie pinko freaks,” as they called us anti–Vietnam War protesters.
On the morning of inauguration day, I was on the subway to join a peace vigil at noon at Washington Square Arch. I wanted to avoid being anywhere that I might see or hear the swearing-in ceremony, and this seemed like a pretty good way to do that. I was just riding the subway, bothering no one. At one stop, three very tall, strong-looking young guys got into the same car. I think they were construction workers, judging from their gear, especially the hard hats. They seemed to take up twice the amount of space as three ordinary people. I moved carefully to be out of their way. (more…)
by Mariel Berger
Inspired after my Alexander/Therapy session with Jane Dorlester
Writing with a soft gaze and a loose grip around the pen might mean that you make more of a mess. And the thoughts that make their way to paper might be more of a wandering than an answer. A spiral of questions. Some what-ifs, whys and maybes.
For me, the impulse to write used to be a coming forward, a grasping, a leaning in to solve a problem –to think something through. My shoulders would be hunched forward, my fingers tight around the pen, and my frontal cortex would strain to figure everything out.
But there’s another place to be — in the back body. A place of not knowing, holding or grasping. A place of letting go.
And to write and live from this place creates space for all possibilities.
Instead of endings and conclusions, there might be … … … and questions.
Instead of lines of thoughts, the words might spiral into a dance … a dance that leads anywhere.
So now, I soften my hand, gently letting the pen make its own words.
Or, I let the words come to the pen.
If there’s nothing to figure out … I don’t have to do anything at all.
by James Blumer
I began my relationship with Body Mapping in my early days as a college music student, little did I know how much of my future would be determined by simply registering for this course that came so highly recommended. This initial step into learning how to use my body better in order to help my violin playing allowed me to improve at a higher rate than other students, train to become an Andover Educator to teach Body Mapping to other musicians, and even train to become an Alexander Technique teacher. The work continues to inform my violin playing, my teaching, as well as my Alexander work.
The so-called “practical” discovery of the body map is credited to an Alexander Technique teacher and cellist named Bill Conable. A young violin student at Ohio State University was brought to him because she was having difficulties with her bow arm. No matter how many traditional exercises her violin teacher prescribed, the limitation remained. The violinist came and played for Bill who after seeing her play thought to himself: “how might I imagine my arm to be structured that would cause me to move in such a way?” He realized that she had mapped her elbow as being higher than it actually was, probably the correct distance from her shoulder when she was younger and her arm was shorter, but her map had not caught up with her current structure. Because she had her elbow mapped as being a bit higher than it really was, she was unconsciously trying to move from the middle of her upper arm bone. Bill worked with the violinist looking at images of the elbow and having her palpate (examine by means of touch) to find out where her elbow really was. Once this shift happened and she corrected her body map, the movement freed up right away. She was now moving according to her actual structure so the movement became more efficient and effective. (more…)
By Brooke Lieb
Alice Olsher will be teaching the Post Graduate Program “The Carrington Games: From the Basics of Self-Care” to Training Teachers on January 14 & 15 – full details here.
Alice, you and I have had amazing conversations, in person and by phone, about the work. I love discussing both technical and pedagogical ideas, as well as the need to innovate and adapt to our the needs of our private students, as well as the teachers we are training, You shared that these discussions is one of the ways you have continued your own development and growth as a teacher and teacher trainer. I personally have found the depth and breadth of our conversations rich beyond measure. I am so excited that NYC area teachers and teachers in training will have a chance to work with you this January. When did you first encounter the Alexander Technique? (more…)
by Barbara Curialle
I’m not advising you on who or what to protest, but I marched on Sunday at a big anti-Trump rally in Midtown Manhattan. As I was remembering my Alexander principles, I came up with a few guidelines for participating in the demonstration or march of your choice.
1. Remember the head-neck-spine relationship. Most marches move very slowly, so you will need to be aware of keeping your back back, your legs separated from your torso, and your knees moving forward with each step. Your march probably will pause at intersections while the police clear traffic. This is a great opportunity to recall Alexander’s directions and your head-neck-back relationship.
2. You’ll hear lots of slogans, and you’ll probably want to chant along with at least some of them. It’s very tempting to throw your head back and yell at the top of your lungs! If you keep a free neck and remember that your jaw is part of your head and not your neck, your voice will resonate much more, and your throat will get less tired. Most chants last only about 60 to 90 seconds, and you don’t have to go along with all of them! Take advantage of pauses to remember your directions. And remember that you can chant your favorite slogans only on an exhale! (more…)
by Brooke Lieb
The first time I voted in a Presidential election was 1984. My memory is far from perfect, but I cannot recall a presidential race that began as early as the 2016 race, with one party’s campaigning for the nomination starting in March, 2015; nor can I remember the type of rhetoric I am hearing as overt and extreme in US politics as it is during this election.
Frankly, it frightens me. And I am not alone. There are a plethora of articles about the heightened anxiety levels precipitated by this current election cycle. A search for “election anxiety” yields online articles from The Atlantic, US News, Newsweek, Time Magazine and The Washington Post, among other news outlets.
As an Alexander teacher, I spend my days teaching my students how to self-regulate so they can manage moments of spiking anxiety. To be an effective teacher, I use the very tools I am teaching, at work and in my life. (more…)