FIRST FRIDAY ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE CLASS – DEC 6
ACAC Charlottesville, Albemarle Square Location
If you aren’t an ACAC member, no problem, tag someone who is and come along.
Join Sara O’Hare and Garnett Mellen for a class that will help you find more ease through the Alexander Technique. Learn how to disengage from the Holiday stimuli. Take a break and release your body’s (and mind’s) tension. The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body. It is a way of learning to move mindfully through life applying a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical way to improve ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination.
When: Friday, December 6th. 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Where: ACAC Charlottesville, Albemarle Square Mind Body Studio
Cost: Free to Members, who can bring a guest for free.
For more information, email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org or John Piller at email@example.com
The ACAC class should be fun, but consider taking private lessons from Garnett at the Medicnin Wheel Building on East High Street, Charlottesville.
Though the Alexander Technique and American Folk waltz are not usually paired, while learning waltz I teach tools of the Technique.
The way you choose to use yourself dictates your tensegrity. At a dance, manage yourself poorly and you may hurt for a week. Manage yourself well and feel vibrantly connection to yourself, the other dancers, and the event. The Technique defines how to more reliably get that connection.
The Alexander Technique is a study the use of the self. When I talk about the self I mean the mind, body and emotions, all in one human-being package, humming along together. I mean – those moments when everything is just right, you feel great and everything is connected. We can cultivate that ability to connect, and the Alexander Technique offers tools toward developing this capacity.
In waltz workshops I ask students to give attention to the use of the self while learning something new – 3/4 time waltz. The Technique is very practical:
1) remember to go through these steps;
2) think into the body - neck free, head up, feet feeling the floor, knees slightly bent streaming forward, shoulders released, and breath easy;
3) consider the means where by you would accomplish the task at hand, be it a step, turn, swirl, or dip;
4) stop – let go of unnecessary tightening; and
5) carry out the desired movement with as much ease and grace as is possible.
Learning can be fun.
Apply these steps to any pursuit, not just dancing? Use the mind to bring attention (not tension) to the body and direct the use of the self. Apply the Technique and refine the capacity to tune in. The result is coordination of the body, mind and emotions. How nice to tune in when pursuing the things we love.
It is my belief, confirmed by the research and practice of nearly twenty years, that man’s supreme inheritance of conscious guidance and control is within the grasp of any one who will take the trouble to cultivate it. that it is no esoteric doctrine or mystical cult, but a synthesis of entirely reasonable propositions that can be demonstrated in pure theory and substantiated in common practice.
Man’s Supreme Inheritance – 1910
The body is the physical vehicle through which we experience life. The Alexander Technique offers us a way to do the things we do with less tension. The aim is to move more beautifully.
Group lessons are a great way to be introduced to the ideas of the Alexander Technique. Groups also are an affordable way to set time aside to practice “thinking” into the body.
Private lessons allow the time and space to unwinding at your own pace in your own way. The one on one attention of a teacher’s touch evokes support and deepens awareness.
The work between a teacher and student explores practical questions: Can you sense your body? Consider how your thoughts influence posture and movements. Can you move in and out of a chair all the while releasing your neck and shoulders and continuing to breath with ease? In a lesson the teacher may have the student rest on a table, or move up and down out of a squat, or walk around the room. Students leave each lesson with homework to remember the body even in the midst of bustling life.
The cost for an Alexander Technique session with Garnett is $50 for 45 minutes. It is advantageous to take at least ten lessons approximately a week between each appointment.
Garnett practices out of the Medicine Wheel Building at 1114 East High Street, Charlottesville, VA. She is generally available on Mondays and Tuesdays but other times are possible.
For more information
The NPR story from March 2011 lauds the benefits of the Alexander Technique in addressing back pain. The study results were published in the British Medical Journal. To hear the NPR story open the URL below —
In our daily lives, we often find ourselves rushing around, rarely allowing ourselves to pause and rest. Animals alternate periods of intense activity with times of rest and recuperations. Our bodies and minds need both of these phases throughout each day. Part of The Alexander Technique is lying down work, which involves resting on a mat or rug (rather than a bed which usually associated with sleep) and giving yourself Alexander’s directions. You lie on your back with knees folded and feet firmly in contact with the floor or mat. Rest your hands on your ribs or pelvis. Place a book or several magazines under your head for support.
By thinking directions into your body, your muscles are lightly activated and experience enlivening tone that can reduce tension. This type of thinking can be considered as the energy of the mind. Madam de Salzmann in the book Heart without Measure suggests “thinking without (or beyond) words; that is attention. That’s the energy of the mind which needs to be directed to the body.”
- Think of allowing your neck to be free. Giving permission for the neck muscles to release their fibers into their full neutral resting length. Think of the cervical vertebrae becoming supple. A releasing of tension at the atlanto-occipital joint guides the entire spine to an appropriate level of tone – not taunt, not slack – but springy and responsive.
- Think of the spine lengthening headward and tailward through its curves. As you rest in a horizontal position, the spinal discs refresh becoming fuller and spongier. Allow gravity to guide the ribs and pelvis to rest on the floor creating more width across the back.
- Think of the knees moving out and away from the torso reaching toward the ceiling with the feet spreading on the floor.
- Bring attention to the breathing coordination. Gently let your attention follow the exhale and inhale and movement of the ribs front to back and side to side.
- Think of the widening of the torso as extending across to the upper part of the arms and out through the shoulder blades and clavicles. Continue to release the arms long out through the elbows all the way to the ends of the fingertips.
Let the neck be free,
To let the head go forward and up,
To let the back lengthen and widen
All together, one after the other.
Article adapted by Garnett Mellen, AMSAT Certified Alexander Technique Teacher. Original article written by Meade Andrews with information from The Art of Changing by Glen Park.
There are three ways to pursue the Alexander Technique. When I say pursue the Alexander Technique I mean to wake the body up and develop the capacity to undo undue tension and stop tensions before they arise.
The traditional way to learn the Alexander Technique is working with a teacher in a private session. Private lessons usually last 45 minutes to 1 hour and a series of classes is recommended. A certified teacher has usually gone through a 1600 hour training course.
The second way to practice the Alexander Technique is by doing a lie down. Sometimes lie downs are referred to as constructive rest. (See the November 25, 2012, blog entry titled Constructive Rest.)
The third way to pursue the Alexander Technique by joining a group class which introduces the ideas and offers limited hands on work. There are several group classes available in Charlottesville. I am currently teaching through Charlottesville Parks and Recreation. UVA, Studio 206, ACAC, and several other local teachers also offer group classes.
The three practices described above can be used all together or one at a time. Of course, the Alexander Technique is the most powerful when applied in day to day life. Can we be more aware of ourselves and easier in our bodies as we get out of bed, fix meals, work at the computer, drive our cars, and socialize with friends and family?
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This giraffe photograph was sent to me by a friend and client. It demonstrates the all important head/neck relationship. The neck being free to allow the head to rest forward and up over the spine guides muscular tone of the entire … Continue reading