We start by stopping.
That is what I’ve said to my students for years, now.
Just pause; literally stop whatever you’re doing and pause.
Find yourself on your feet. Where is your weight? Is it more on the left foot? Right foot? Can it be in the middle?
How far forward or back is your weight on the foot?
This is simple, but not necessarily easy.
It is about where you are in 3-D space.
The feet are on the ground, under you.
Head goes on top. Let it float a little, don’t clamp it down.
Pause and breathe.
We start by stopping. People often come to me who are in a great deal of pain. By stopping it is possible to think, Ah, I am stopping. It hurts, but it is what it is, not more. I am stopping, therefore I’m not making it worse.
Starting by stopping is a place that brings comfort and choice.
In that moment of stopping, you can choose: do whatever it was you were about to do, do something different, or choose not to do anything at all.
Suppose your decision is to take a walk.
How do you organize your body to move?
It is just like the Ready – Set – Go of running, to a lesser degree. Before a runner takes off, they gather themselves, coiled and poised to spring forward and accelerate into the race.
We also prepare to move, but it is generally an unconscious process.
That unconscious preparation could also be called, “that’s just how I am.”
Is that it? Are we doomed to be how we are, and never better?
What if you could organize your body for optimal movement?
How would that manifest in real terms?
Would you run faster?
Be taller? Jump higher?
Could dancing be smoother and more graceful?
There are some ways to organize the body that are better than others for any given activity.
Learning to organize your body without excessive tension is one key.
Learning to know your body better so you can find your own, good alignment with the least amount of tension, is another.
One student commented, no tension isn’t good because he collapses.
That’s right! It’s about alignment and also, appropriate levels of tension, using muscular activity efficiently.
I suggested an exploration for him; what is the least amount of effort you can use to do what you’re doing – for instance, standing. Is there a way you can have a little more ease? Let’s not burn energy or wear out the body by working it harder than necessary for the task at hand.
As Richard Brennan said in his book, “Change your Posture, Change your Life,” it’s like driving your car down the freeway in first gear and wondering why you’re having trouble.
I want to dance five Rounds* and still feel that I could dance another…and of course, the last Round is the most important one, of all; the Final.
That’s what I love so much about the Alexander Technique. I have my feet under me, a strong spine carrying me, my head clear and balanced on top. Life is easier this way and it feels better.
“Give me my strong back, over a soft heart.” ~ Connie Brockway
*Rounds are practice for competition in Ballroom/Latin dance.