Alexander Technique in East Yorkshire

#release #expanding #setfree #acceptance

now browsing by tag

 
 

There is an interconnection which influences everything.

This is the last in series of interviews I carried out with people who have had Alexander Technique lessons. This interview is with Sandra who has had both individual lessons and been to group sessions.

Here are Sandra’s answers to a simple set of questions I asked her about her experience of having lessons:

 

What drew you to the Alexander Technique?

I was curious about the technique because I did little bits in a Yoga class and a friend found it useful.

 

What impact did you hope it would have/make?

I was a “head person” and thought my body carried my head around I realised it is not like that and I wanted to explore that.

 

Was there anything expected about learning the Alexander Technique? If so, what was it, and what impact did it have?

I knew it would be about sitting and standing & I did learn about things like that.

 

Was there anything unexpected about learning the Alexander Technique? If so, what was it?

I have discovered moving sometimes feels so right. It’s a feeling that “everything slots into place.”

I have been able to explore the whole idea of feeling which is quite distinct. Before feeling was a distraction, but not now.

I have learned how to move with the body.

Before I was doing something “out there” rather than something coming from inside. It is more mindful.


What impact did learning the Alexander Technique have?

At first stop (inhibition) felt negative, like I was being told STOP because I was doing something wrong. I needed to think about it and give it time, but at first I was avoiding it. It took a while to get to think of “stop” as “nice” not negative. Being in the moment is positive.

I discovered by doing stopping, that half the things I was going to do, I didn’t need to do them.

I was rushing, resenting doing things, and fighting myself whereas now, I can stop, take a deep breath, look out of the window, and actually enjoy what I am doing (even pot washing) and I notice things.


Was there anything else that was unexpected about learning the Alexander Technique? If so, what was it?

“All of it” was unexpected. The whole experience.

The feeling of relaxation is amazing.Anxiety drops away.

Stopping gives me time and space to enjoy being not doing. It feels nice, “like a deep breath and a sigh of release”

Of course I have got to remember to do it. Sometimes it goes out the window.

I did resist stop and semi-supine (I occasionally did it in yoga and AT lessons). I do it now whenever I think of it. “Let the neck be free” is really good. I do that in the car, at the shops. I need to remember my head, but when I think “Let the neck be free” then I feel a release, then it happens through my body “all at once.”

I thought the teacher was going to do it all for me, but discovered I had to do something. It’s a continuous process and I am continually learning.

 

What do you know now?

I can let go of things.

I am beginning to be aware of my body.

The anxiety and rushing are changing and I am enjoying the connection with the body. I was already able to move well, so I don’t think it’s as much about the movement, I don’t have anything wrong with me.

I notice my body affects my moods. That my body is tied into moods. That there is an interconnection which influences everything. That interconnection means I notice more things.


Anything else?

The body mapping (living anatomy about where the joints are) influenced my walking and how I move.

I’ve enjoyed the mixture of 1:1 lessons and group lessons.

In the 1:1 lessons I could explore personal/specific things but in a group I could learn from the experiences of others and from observing how other group members move. Plus, there are things that can be explored in a group that can’t be done on a 1:1, like when we explored what we might do habitually in a crowd/ on a crowded train and then explored how to do it when applying the Alexander Technique.

It’s more than mindful, it’s a feeling in the whole of the body. From feeling tension, to no tension, letting go, lighter and moving easier. I may be quicker too. I am more prepared.

 

If you would like to learn the Alexander Technique and find out how it might help for you, please contact me or give me a ring and book a lesson.

Jane Clappison

Alexander Technique Teacher

01759 307282

www.janeclappison.co.uk

 

Jane’s April 2020 Alexander Technique Project: using screens

Two people looking at screen with poor postureThe coronavirus has meant that much of the world is operating far more online and that includes many Alexander technique teachers. For some of them, online work has been their main source of income. For some, like me, the virus has meant my face to face work has had to stop and I have needed to do some training to grow my online work.  Mio Morales and Jennifer Roig-Francoli generously provided this training.

In the process of exploring online work, I have been practicing giving online lessons with a fellow AT teacher. This month’s  project emerged out of that.

When I use “screens” I tend to, very slowly, inexorably, get drawn into the screen. I hinge at the hips and move my throat towards the screen, lift my chin, and look down my nose. My shoulders and shoulder blades move backwards and together! It is an old habit. I have shared a very old photo of my Dad and I peering at a computer screen screen of his newly purchased BBC machine (very old computer from the 1980’s) to show you how bad it can get. So I know it’s always there if I don’t engage some other strategy. I also get visual and vestibular migraine (strange gorgeous zig zags before my eyes and feeling dizzy) if I use a screen too much.

This habit is not the only one! There are so many ways to lose sight of “good use” when looking at a screen. My version might be like yours, but it may be very different. My colleague noticed they have a similar tendency but the emphasis for them is on the upper chest moving towards the screen and tightening in the lower back.

The project began by reminding myself

Read the rest of this page »

The Alexander Technique and pain (again)

Lean into it

 

I am tired. I keep in mind the phrase “this too will pass” because I spend many hours per night awake. I lie awake because my shoulder pain is still with me. I experiment with many positions in the hopes I will find a spot where my arm pain can settle and thus I can sleep.

Yesterday, I got to lay on the sun lounger and fall asleep in the sun. I am sure I was never happier! The sun lounger is too narrow to find a place of comfort for my arm, which continues to catch my breath with the level of pain at times, and so my husband came up with a solution. He made a pile of several cushions to the right of me, and my arm lay on top of it rather regally, and the pain eased. I drifted off to the garden sounds.

The pain seems to have no pattern, it’s intense one moment, and doable the next. I save the analgesics for daylight hours though they don’t always do the trick. The Alexander Technique, hot packs, ice packs and TENS machine are also supporting me, plus exercise and imagining moving my arm (covert rehearsal).

There is plenty of non-doing in all of this. Sometimes all I can do is release to the pain.

Read the rest of this page »

The Alexander Technique and eyes (2)

The eyes still have it

 

I have been reminded that what one sees is in the eye of the beholder, including beauty. I gave that some thought and realised how one sees is also the same. Do you notice how you look at things. Do you notice some of the ways that happens? I’ve spotted myself looking for safety, curiosity, pattern recognition, body language. Looking close up with mouse eyes, looking at the big picture with eagle eyes. What do you notice about the way you look. Does it make a difference? How does it affect your body and what you notice as you stay present?

This week I have been marvelling at how thinking about my eyes leading movement has an effect on my neck movement. It started off by doing an exploration described in Elizabeth Langford’s book Mind and Muscle, an owner’s handbook. I am grateful for her explorations of the eyes and have developed another version on similar lines. In the book, one exploration is done on all 4’s and the other is done with walking and changing direction. Both are fun to do. It’s adaptable to all sorts of activities and I have been doing my version in sitting and standing.

For those of you with neck problems might I suggest you do the exploration when you are with your Alexander Technique teacher? Either way, go as far as is comfortable and as few repetitions as is comfortable. You can chose to do only part of the exploration too, instead of all of it at once.

Read the rest of this page »

Learn from failure

“We learn from failure, not from success!”         

Bram Stoker

 

Dear Alexander Technique students,

I want you to drop your standards (and me, mine). Here’s why:

I was sat in a great cafe, here in Pocklington. They have a tiny table, just for people like me. It’s right next to the cakes, so I can enjoy all their gorgeousness without taking on a single calorie (could inhaling the smell do that?). I was sipping my cappuccino, trying not to get a “joker” smile from the chocolate. I was also writing about my challenges to simply sit down and play my harp.

In came a young woman wrestling with a huge guitar case (you know, the type that withstands almost everything), music books and full hessian bags. Before she sat down at a table, the guitar reverently went on the seat next to her, one of her bags got another seat and the floor and table the rest. She gave her order and proceeded to open up a music book and play the air with her fingers. She was humming in her head (I could tell) and tapping her foot too. I knew she was playing that piece, I could almost hear it. Here was a musician, through and through.

Read the rest of this page »

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge (Tuli Kupferberg)

Natalie Collins (Unsplash)

I love that practicing the Alexander Technique brings new information, new ways of seeing things all the time.

A recent Alexander Technique lesson I received started something like this…

Teacher – What’s happening with your foot?

Me – Oh it’s forward of the other, it’s often like that.

Teacher – What else is happening, take a look!

Me – Oh it’s becoming windswept! It’s been going that way since I broke my ankle.

Teacher – What about if you release into the windswept way it wants to go…?

Me – OH! Wow!

“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out they way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.” – Goldie Hawn

The release felt like my foot was softening, expanding, spacious,  opening, beautiful, limitless, effortlessly yielding and it had a ripple effect, through my whole system, opening out into the world. It sounds profound and it was.

I wouldn’t say I am a control freak where most things are concerned. Yet, with many years dancing, teaching movement & working as a Chartered Physiotherapist, I do keep falling into the trap of trying to “control” my body and wanting it to be other-than-what-it-is! I was doing that same thing with my ankle and my foot. I was releasing them the way I wanted them to go. I was trying to control them, despite all my Alexander training (habits can be so deep they go unnoticed) and despite that (mostly unconscious) effort to control them my balance was getting worse and my foot was stuck in the middle, going two ways.

So, back to the lesson …we spent it thinking about releasing into the direction that my foot, and my body wanted to go. I marvelled about how “releasing into the direction something wants to go” had such a profound effect and I knew that the same process could be applied to life. Google defines release as…

allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free.”

It is not about collapsing, or admitting defeat but involves ceasing trying to change things in-the-moment, accepting things as they are, setting things free to be just as they are. Releasing into an unknown outcome.

I have been lovingly acknowledging and embracing my windswept foot (which probably evolved as a result of a fall and broken ankle) as being part of me. Accepting that this is how it is.

The paradox is that by witnessing it and allowing it to be, giving up the control, things have changed and my foot is already less windswept and my balance has improved.

Sometimes I come back to a thing over and over before I take a different path. I may be back here again in the future! I suspect release is rarely a one- time thing especially where habit is concerned. I do know that “releasing” can feel utterly impossible if one does not know how, and it can be challenging as well as breathtaking. The Alexander Technique is a wonderful tool to support this process.

FM Alexander described his technique as conscious control of the individual. Yes, it is about “control” but of a different kind. One where we can react differently to our patterns.

When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is! – unknown

Jane Clappison MSTAT (with gratitude to Lena Schibel-Mason MSTAT)

01759 307282

www.janeclappison.co.uk