How is the body like a guitar?
We want the body, like a guitar, to be finely tuned: the strings not too tight, not too loose. Then after all the attention it takes to coordinate the parts into a greater harmonious whole, the body, like a guitar, still has not reached full potential until — it is taken out and played.
The body is the physical vehicle through which we experience life. The Alexander Technique teaches how to do the things that we do with less tension to purse our aims moving more beautifully. For example:
A musician to play with the head, neck and back easy;
A surgeon to release the hands and arms to move with just the right level of tone to successfully complete each operation;
A house painter to be the most beautiful house painter she can be; or A financial analyst to sit at a desk comfortably with poise.
Private lessons affords you the time and space to unwinding. The focused 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 our 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 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.
For more information
What: Alexander Technique
When: Sunday mornings 12-1 PM
Dates: May 5 – July 7 (break from mid July through end of August)
Where: Classes held at the beautifully renovated Jefferson School Carver Rec Center
Address: 233 4th St NW.
Cost: $8, or free with Cville Parks and Rec Access Pass
Sponsor: Charlottesville Parks and Recreation
Alexander Technique Teacher
This Therapeutics class teaches teen and adults with physical and mental disabilities life skills through the waltz. This series held at the Key Center downtown.
At our first class, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the upstairs dance room worked for this group. We’ll keep meeting upstairs.
Charlottesville Parks and Recreation
April 27-May 1 Saturdays 11AM-12PM
Key Center, E. Market Street
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
David Goreman wrote a book. A very comphrensive book, in fact. its called the Body Moveable. And I have it.