[The Alexander Technique is an educational method used worldwide for over 100 years. It begins with the premise that the human organism is perfectly designed for an expansive range of activities. It is our own faulty postural habits that get in the way of this potential, but by teaching how to change those habits, the Alexander Technique improves mobility, posture, performance and alertness. A student learns to use conscious control to relieve chronic pain, tension, injury and stress.]
Simply put, we are in control of our bodies. Well, duh. But what do we do in an Alexander Technique class? Is it like yoga? Is it like physical therapy? And how does it pertain to my pregnant/new mom/experienced mom, body?
Yes and no. Yes and no. And just wait, I'll tell you.
The Alexander Technique was created over one hundred years ago by a Tasmanian fellow named F.M. Alexander. The long and short of it is, he was having throat/vocal/breathing issues and after seeing lots of doctors and specialists who couldn't help, he decided to take a looksy in the mirror at what he was doing that could be harmful. He realized that he threw his head back and down, which contracted his spine and cut off his breath and vocal chords. He noticed himself and recognized these habits. The technique was born: 1st step, Awareness. The 2nd principle, Inhibition - simple. He would just stop throwing his head back and down. The 3rd idea in the process, Direction, meant that he channeled, or directed, his head to release forward and up. His throat and breathing issues ceased and his body overall began to fare better. Which is how your body will respond if you start to pay attention to it, inhibit its habits, and direct these habits in a different way.
We've already created bad habits in our bodies over the years without the added conditions of pregnancy, a newborn, or raising a toddler - habits like, locking your knees, extending your hips, swaying your back, or humping your shoulders. And, it's these physical habits that can not only make daily activities rough - sitting at a desk, waiting for the bus, pushing a grocery cart, but can make it even worse, more pronounced, when you're pregnant or breastfeeding or picking up and carrying a kiddo.
Pay attention to yourself next time you perform one of these daily activities, use Awareness and notice whether one of these takes place. Then allow yourself to Inhibit that habit; stop yourself from doing it. Then try Directing yourself to an easeful place out of the habit with a breath.
Breath is a big part of the Alexander Technique considering it was breath that F. M. was losing. It is a great part of all three tenets described above (Awareness, Inhibition, Direction). If you don't understand the steps, at least understand breath in the same way F. M. did: we need it. In the Alexander Technique Workshop, you will learn how to become aware of your breath, inhibit your habits that may constrict or hinder it, and learn to Direct your body.
Great. Sounds good. But wait, how is it like yoga? How is it like Physical Therapy?
There's a meditative quality to finding one's breath and the philosophy of bettering one's body is much the same as in Yoga. Both methods want to reveal a stronger, more balanced entity. And it's like Physical Therapy in the sense that some people come to this workshop looking to fix a particular physical issue. But, unlike some Physical Therapy practitioners, Alexander Technique teachers don't focus on the specific area but rather the body as a whole.
There are so many layers to the technique. These are just the very basics. Dive deep into the technique with me at my upcoming Alexander Technique Workshop at Blooma. We will focus on the three principles, feel them through our bodies, and practice them in the space. Join me!
Written by Eli Sibley, AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher and Certified Laban Movement Analyst (or CMA) and a mama
Eli's Alexander Workshop is Friday, May 5th in St. Paul. Learn more and sign up HERE.