The Pitfalls of the Knitter’s Craft

by Witold Fitz-Simon

Five years ago I discovered knitting, and it quickly became one of my favorite pastimes. Working with needles and yarn is a deeply satisfying experience on many levels. The color and texture of the yarn running through your fingers, the rhythm of the needles slipping and sliding away in your hands, the satisfaction of seeing the project develop bit by bit, all build into an experience that is visceral, addictive, and deeply calming.

What if the aches and pains, the limitations and injuries that you experience as a result of your everyday life were not a result of the flawed workings of a crude machine, but were instead the result of all the things you do in a day that interfere with that complex coordination? What if, in order to stand tall and have good posture, to be grounded on your feet and light on your feet all at the same time, all you had to do was do less or let go of all the pushing and pulling, compressing and collapsing you do to yourself all day and allow that underlying coordination to reassert itself?

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Advice for a New Alexander Technique Teacher

Brooke Lieb, ACAT ’89

Remember to refer back to your student’s head/neck/back relationship frequently during the lesson. Help her understand that as she explores or attends to an activity, or observes more details about her specific habits, she can observe how this influences her head/neck/back. Conversely, as she returns to attend to her head/neck/back, she can observe how this influences the activity or pattern she was working with.

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New Group Class: Experiential Anatomy and Alexander Technique

fig-70-deep-muscles-of-the-upper-part-of-the-backExperiential Anatomy and Alexander Techniquewith Witold Fitz-Simon

Tuesday Evenings (see dates below)

Learn to see, understand and talk about anatomy with an Alexander Technique twist. In this 10-week class, we will learn about bone, its physiology, function and use as a support structure and foundation for movement, with a special focus on the head and spine. This class is part of the American Center for the Alexander Technique's teacher-training program, the longest-running program in the US, but is open to anyone interested in the body and the way we use ourselves. Excellent for teachers of dance, yoga or other movement modalities, and for anyone interested in how their bodies work.

Class Day/Time: Tuesdays, 7:55 pm to 9:15 pm Class dates: September 13, 20, 27 October 25 November 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 December 6 Class Fees: $400 for 10 classes; $45 per drop in class All fees are payable by cash or check to “ACAT” To register for the whole series: send $400 payment in full* to ACAT, 39 West 14th Street, Room #507, between 5th and 6th Avenue or click below to pay via PayPal (processing fees apply) Buzz #507 to enter the building *There are no refunds for missed classes

 

How to Calm Your Mind and Invite Inspiration to Strike

How many times in your life have you been under the gun to come up with something new and inspiration just isn’t coming? Maybe you have to write a proposal at work, or come up with an idea for a fun outing with the family. Maybe you’ve been hammering away at a problem for an hour and the solution is still beyond your reach. It’s a situation most of us have found ourselves in. Why is it that inspiration can be so elusive in moments of pressure? The answer is something called the startle response. As stress levels rise, our body’s fight or flight response kicks in, creating all sorts of problems that can get in the way of clear and creative thinking:

  • Tightness in the neck and shoulders

  • Restricted breathing

  • A surge in adrenaline

  • Anxiety

  • Agitated thoughts

The Alexander Technique can offer you a simple and effective solution to help calm your system down and expand your perspective, giving your subconscious mind a chance to do its work. And it can take as little as five minutes!

7 Steps to Calm Your Mind and Arouse Inspiration

1. Find a quiet space and lie down on the floor. 

You don’t need a lot of space to do this, just enough to be on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can let your arms rest by your side or have your elbows bent and rest your hands on your trunk.

2. Put something firm under your head to allow your neck to lengthen and release.

A couple of books are ideal for this, just an inch or two of height should be enough.

3. Soften your gaze and look up at the ceiling.

After you have yourself situated, allow yourself to settle. Keep your eyes open and really see the room above you. If you close your eyes or glaze over, you will be getting lost in your own thoughts and won’t be able to achieve the state of calm you will need.

4. Allow any mental chatter to calm down.

This can be very challenging. You might find you have to keep reminding yourself and bringing your awareness back to the present and to what you are seeing above you many times.

5. Let go of anything you don’t need.

Once you start to get yourself centered, you might notice muscles working that don’t need to be, given that you are resting on the floor. Gently encourage them to relax. You may find that they don’t cooperate straight away. Don’t worry if they don’t. Just keep sending the suggestion to your body that it can soften and do less. Allow your neck to be a little softer and a little freer. Allow your whole head to ease away from your body and your back to lengthen and widen across the floor.

6. Don’t keep looking for the solution.

You’ve been searching for the solution for however long at this point and it hasn’t come to you, so we’re going to change your approach. Let yourself be present and notice when your mind starts to leap around. When it does, as it inevitably will, simply remind yourself to not look for a solution. This way your conscious mind, which has been failing up to now to come up with the idea you’ve been looking for, will no longer be overriding your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind is infinitely more vast and complex than your conscious mind and has a lot more resources available to it. Give it a chance to do its work.

7. Have a little faith and stick with it.

Your unconscious mind is infinitely more vast and complex than your conscious mind and has a lot more resources available to it. Give it a chance to do its work. Hang out here for five to ten minutes: keep calming your mental chatter; keep allowing your head, neck and back to expand; keep coming back to the present matter and letting go of a need to find your inspiration.

Perhaps your inspiration will come while you’re lying down, perhaps it will come after you get back up and reassess your situation. At the very least, going through these seven steps will give you a different perspective. Using this process, called “Constructive Rest” or a “Lie-Down” in the Alexander Technique, you will have calmed your nervous system, dispelling the unwanted effects of stress and giving your body and mind a chance to decompress.

If you find this helpful, tell me in the comments about your experience. If your interest is piqued, click here to find an Alexander Technique teacher near you.

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WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. www.mindbodyandbeing.com