Tag Archives: Alexander Technique poise

Sitting with Poise

Can we sit like this child?

 
The child below was photographed as she played with her friends. She was not posing for the camera and she displays a natural, lively, free and easy balance that she is unconsciously using. Children can very often sit like this for long periods of time without any strain but unfortunately many tend to lose this easy poise as they grow older. 
Why does this happen? Well, children can get bored or upset and express this in their bodies by tensing and crumpling up into themselves. The furniture they use may be unsuitable, like the backward sloping chairs that are often used in schools which many AT teachers and others are trying to ban. Children may grow suddenly, so they don’t quite know how to use their bodies because they can’t work out how big they are. They can spend hours slumped in front of the TV…. there can be many reasons for developing habits that disturb our balance and poise!
In Alexander lessons, we aim to help people to consciously find an inner balance within themselves so that they can sit and move around freely and easily like this child. Knowing our own habit patterns can help us let go them so that we can return to, or create, an easier poise that we can enjoy during daily activities such as computing or playing the piano (below).

 

 
Child sitting, alert and poised.jpg
 
Sitting at a Piano
 
A young woman came for AT lessons recently and one of the things that brought her to me was that she had a lot of pain in her upper back when she played the piano, which she loves to do for relaxation but the pain was making it less enjoyable. 
 
During lessons it became clear that she had a habit of over-tensing her back muscles as she lifted her arms up when she pretended to use a keyboard. Interestingly, her back was much tighter when she thought of playing the piano, compared to when she thought of using a computer, even though the initial arm movements were so similar. This beautifully illustrates how our thoughts and attitudes influence the way we use our bodies.
 
After having just a couple of lessons, this student was pleased to report that the pain in her back was already much less. This was great to hear and it was clear that this young woman has really begun to take the AT work on board, has been observing herself as she played the piano and has regularly used the lying down procedure, all of which has helped her to begin to change her habits really quickly.
If we can all sit at desks and pianos with the easy, fluid balance that the child displays in the photo, we shall all be a lot happier in our bodies!

Frost and Ice

Frosted Poppy SeedheadSlippery Pavements

There are wet leaves on the paths and the first wintry frost is here, so it’s time to take care on pavements! If you are afraid of falling on ice, it is tempting to tense up all over but remember, you will have more sense of your balance and more control over your movements if you refuse to tighten but walk in an alert and free manner, using all you have learned in your Alexander lessons.

One wintry day last year when the pavements were covered with ice, I was tempted to tighten up my legs and hips in order to keep my balance. Then I saw a teenager running with ease along the frozen pavement, illustrating the fact that poise and free movements are the best way to maintain ones balance, even on slippery ice.

We do need to keep warm in order to look after our health but perhaps we can do our bit for the environment and start off by wearing an extra layer of clothing, rather than turn the heating up without thinking. Tensing up our our arms, shoulders and lower back against the cold really doesn't help to us keep any warmer, in fact it tends to restrict our circulation, which could make us feel even colder.
Also, have you noticed the weight of a winter coat? How much heavier winter clothes are than summer ones! It's tempting to let the coat's weight drag us down but if we gently maintain the length in our spines and allow an upward anti-gravity energy flow through us, we can still be poised - and somehow the coat tends to feel less heavy.