I was once asked to do an assessment for the company you all know called Johnson and Johnson, and from that assessment I concluded that 'education ruins your posture'. I say that tongue in cheek, of course. I don't really mean education, but the environment that we find ourselves in when we attend classes, whether they are at school or university, are not conducive to keeping a healthy posture.
I went into the factory where the people were working on assembly line and their posture was wonderful. Then I was escorted to the admin block where all the accountants and other administrators worked. There, each and every person was slumped over their computer, hence my first statement about education. Many aspects of the Alexander technique apply here.
Firstly, we are born with perfect posture, or what Alexander would call ‘use’. Just watch a young child pick something up from the floor. Then as the children go off to school, they have to sit for many hours at a desk. Sitting for long periods of time is very stressful on the spine. Then they carry very heavy bags over one shoulder for many years of schooling. Once they come home, they flop into a couch/sofa to watch hours of television. And we wonder why they look like they do. They slope about throughout their teenage years and then finally qualify and find a job only to sit for many more hours behind a desk, again, slouched over a pc, or some other device. I have worked with architects who have very difficult desk positions to get used to. Dentists have another sitting position that is most testing on the back. All the time while growing up, the awareness of body has been negated and it is only the final pain in the back and neck that drive them to find a solution. Our environment is not user friendly, by and large, and yet many are not aware of this at all. We all know how to use our body correctly, we have just forgotten about it.
Finding your way to an Alexander technique teacher is the first step in creating a solution. Re-educating the body is the answer.
Step Lightly, Be Sprightly!!
This is my equation for life. I truly believe that this is the secret to growing ‘young’ gracefully. Whether it be flexibility of mind or body it does not matter, both are equally important. I find those who are inflexible in the one area are usually lack flexibility in the other. Many of the more mature students I teach have the problem of stiff joints, often the hips and shoulder joints stiffen. The upper back becomes a solid mass of tension. Often these folk do exercise, they say to me that they love to walk, and I applaud them for it. However, they are still not stretching out enough and releasing so much of the built up tension. I often go for walks on the beachfront in Kohimarama and I watch passionate walkers doing their thing. Many of them never use their arms, so many of them are stiff as boards, other are leaning backwards as they attempt to walk forward, others still are using their lower back to walk instead of their legs. The tricky thing about this is that, many of you reading this are saying to yourselves, ‘this is not me’ ‘I don’t do that’. The thing is that you may well not be aware that you are doing these things. Your great intention is all very well but without any guidance from someone who has a trained eye to appreciate the finer nuances of movement, you may in fact not be doing what you have set out to do.
Stretching before and after a walk is very important, and doing it properly will be more effective. And what is properly? Ah there is the rub….
The Alexander technique is an education process whereby a student is taught how to use the body with less tension and stress. Therefore having an Alexander technique lesson will guide the student to greater awareness of what they are currently doing. Creating awareness is always the first step towards any change. We look at the biomechanics of the body, that is, how the body is designed and from that, freer movement can be established. We really are addressing the route cause of poor posture, instead of treating it. Emotional factors influence the way in which we use our bodies. We acquire habits of contraction which create rigidity and imbalance. Therefore the Alexander is a way of teaching us how to undo these fixed patterns, regaining our balance and freedom of movement.
Noeline qualified as an Alexander Technique teacher in 1990. She has been in private practice ever since. Why not call and ask what she can do for you?