One thing guaranteed to make me smile is the typical response of people when I say that I teach the Alexander Technique. Often people pull themselves up in unnatural ways and then comment, in some negative way, about their posture. Every single time I have seen this, the adjustment people make is always upwards and, involves a fair amount of effort; this causes three problems in my view:
Problem One – Tension and strain
The obvious problem with ‘pulling up’ is that the effort it requires causes tension and strain and so it very quickly becomes unsustainable.
Problem Two – Reduced stability and balance
The less obvious problem ‘pulling up’ causes is that it lifts people away from the floor if they are standing or the seat if they are sitting. The problem then becomes, not poor posture or effort but the lack of support available from the floor or the seat. Take away support, and people are left feeling less stable and balanced.
Problem Three – Bodies are not one dimensional
Another difficulty with attempting to improve posture by ‘pulling up’ is the fact that it is a movement in only one dimension and completely neglects the fact that bodies are three dimensional, i.e. they have width and depth as well as length.
If improving your posture is important to you, here are some ideas that you can experiment with:
- Recognise that every part of you including your legs, arms pelvis, torso, neck and head have width, depth and length. Here is a picture that will help you get a sense of this for your ribcage
- Create a feeling of expansion in all directions (above, below and around you. Don’t try and make this happen but trust that thinking it will make a difference.
- If you are standing, keep a good sense of your feet on the floor
- If you are sitting, keep a good sense of your bum on the seat and (if at all possible) your feet on the floor as well
Finally, if you do find yourself slumping, rather than immediately pulling yourself up try this instead. Pause briefly and look out (this will stop you trying hard which would create tension) then, plant your feet on the floor or your bum on the seat while creating a sense of expansion all around you. Paying attention to your posture in this way will enable you to stay relaxed, stable and balanced. Try it and see what you think.
If this post has sparked your curiosity and you are interested in finding out how the Alexander Technique can help you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07957 981240 get in touch using the contact icons
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I suffer severely from back spasms, have damaged vertebraes (sp?) and would like to know if there is someone in the Western Cape, south africa, who teaches the Alexander Technique
Thank you for getting in touch. I don’t personally know anyone who teaches in South Africa but here is a link to a list of teachers world wide https://www.alexandertechnique.com/teacher/ It includes a list of teachers who use skype if you are unable to find someone local to you. I hope that helps.
Best wishes, Bridget