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.