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Appropedia:Open Source Alexander Technique Self-Study/Community-Study Tool

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Non-trained persons can benefit from experimenting with the principles discovered by F.M. Alexander for personal well-being.

A Victorinox manufacturing plant increased its productivity by %40 and reduced worker injuries by providing experiential learning to its workers about how they used themselves in their work—their body-mind selves (Alexander Technique Coaching in the Victorinox Company, Priska Gauger-Schelbert and Paul auf der Maur, STAT Books). This was with trained teachers of the somatic education work. Productivity is easier to measure than health, but both productivity and physical well-being have been shown to improve by this and many other case studies. Given the lack of trained Alexander Technique teachers in the world, it makes sense for an "open source" approach to sharing the information and helping people make use of the principles.

(Disclaimer--this is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure any disease or injury. However, when one learns better patterns of movement oftentimes symptoms of pain can be reduced or can disappear, as well as stamina and resilience increasing).

Alexander discovered;

1. that he had a habit of holding between his head and spine before and during any activity he did, or in response to stimuli mental or physical, and that by doing less of this habit he had less pain and more resource available. He found this to be true for most everyone he experimented with. The head-spine pattern informs the way the whole self moves. This Alexander called the Primary Control, Primary Mechanism, or Primary Movement.

2. that by doing less of the habit more of "the right thing does itself." The benefit comes from a subtraction of voluntary effort. The patterns of voluntary effort can be reduced gradually over time--they are quite complex and we are so used to them we have never thought to question them. They have come to feel normal--but that is an illusion we can free ourselves from by having experiences of moving with less of the habitual patterns. This principle of non-doing Alexander called Inhibition (in the neuronal sense, not the Freudian sense.)

To investigate the principles he discovered you can:

1) solo investigation, if you can obtain two mirrors: place the mirrors at 90 degrees to one another (as viewed from above), at eye level, so you can see the side of you as well as the front. Then observe yourself in movement in activity of talking. The feedback learning from this will show, in subtle, quiet forms, the patterns of movement that are at the basis of how you move in all your activities, including those which may be leading to chronic aches and pains in the back. Observe, observe, observe. You can do this for ten minutes a day, say, and note results.

If you cannot get a mirror, using your shadow on a wall or the ground will work somewhat well too.

2) if you have no mirrors but can get a partner: have partner put hands gently on your head and shoulder, or front and back of shoulder, or elsewhere, while you experiment with gross (large) movements such as speaking, raising your arm, lowering your arm, standing up, sitting down.

3) with three people: add an observer (source--David Gorman, Anatomy of Wholeness, Lecture 15). Note how choices about focus of attention in each of the three people affects their movements.

According to Esther Ghokale, Burkina Faso and Peru, two of the least "developed" countries, have the lowest incidence of back pain ( A casual observer can see more uprightness and fluidity of movement in less "developed" countries. It appears that on balance people in the "developing" world, in general, have better coordination than those in the "developed" world. This is an asset in that those who need to change their coordination the least tend to sense the benefits the most and are the most receptive to learning, since the greater the patterns of interference the less sensation is available.

Rather than going down the same painful, dysfunctional path that the "developed" world has, with epidemic back pain, "text neck," and reduction of energy and happiness, people in the "developing" world can become more aware of the resource of good coordination they still have and sustain and increase it.

Most kinesthetic/somatic/body learning is top-down, and doing-oriented--for example "sit up straight," "always hold your spine in an aligned fashion." This article proposes that by changing statements to questions, "what can I learn from my current choice of posture?" "what can I learn from the relationship of my spine to the rest of me?" "what am I sensing about my self, body-and-mind-unity?" inclines us toward the non-doing, postural-reflex-supported movement that is healthier and more sustainable.

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Btw, I'm favorably inclined towards the Alexander Technique, personally. If I'd explored this and/or Feldenkrais rather than going to physiotherapists for years, I'd probably be much better off.

An Australian physiotherapy professor was quoted as saying something like "In physiotherapy we follow the best available evidence, but the best available evidence isn't very good." And in my own experience, I was given unhelpful advice for decades from physiotherapists and other manual therapists, based on an old orthodoxy (overemphasis on pulling shoulders down and back, which in my case aggravated a nerve) and that ultimately led to frozen shoulder. (Obviously there a lot more to it, and I don't dismiss manual therapists - it's just that some cases are not suitable for most therapists. My current physiotherapists specialise in neck and shoulder conditions and have a deep expertise, and I'm doing much better.) -- Chriswaterguy (talk) 17:59, 13 January 2019 (PST)