Friday, November 15, 2019

Science and Alexander Technique

Science is now truly giving Alexander Technique (AT) a new lease of life. 
Several leading researchers are also Alexander teachers. The new website set up by Tim Cacciatore, Raj Cohen, Patrick Johnson and Andrew McCann has much to offer. 

I particularly like the article by Raj Cohen. She relates concepts used by AT teachers to relevant fields of science (e.g. biomechanics), She then outlines the extent to which each AT concept is strongly backed by current science. Most are. Some need much more research, and a few may not be not validated. 
Image from Cacciatore & Johnson The Physics of Sit-to-Stand

Monday, May 6, 2019

Soften your eyes

Try this activity and observe for yourself how important our eyes are in releasing unnecessary tension throughout the body and mind.
Ask for the muscles surrounding the eyes to soften.
Allow any release of tension to spread .... up to your forehead and back to the neck.
Scan the web of muscle across the whole head and neck .... and descending down the back.
What do you notice?
Now that you know the process, try the exercise with closed eyes.

If the neck muscles let go of any tension, maybe you grew a little taller .... just from the tiny activity of softening the eyes.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Managing morning stiffness

Are you like me and find you're often stiff in the mornings? I often find my left hip is a bit sore. Osteoarthritis is probably the cause for me, but it can also be worn joints or muscle tightness. As we age, the cartilage protecting the joint dries and stiffens, and also the joint is less well lubricated with synovial fluid. Importantly, for managing stiffness and pain, "weak muscles and stiff tendons tend to tighten during sleep" (Harvard Health online).

I don't have a consistent "fix", but use Alexander Technique to help. I watch my reactions, ask in different ways for my whole body to lengthen, and importantly try to avoid tightening around the pain. I also apply the Technique on a morning walk, and when doing the hamstring and quad stretches that also help. Finally, constructive rest reduces stiffness and makes us aware of how we tighten up. Try it in the mornings, and at night before bed. Let me know if you need help with it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Marilyn Monroe studied Alexander Technique

What's the connection between Marilyn Monroe and Alexander Technique? One of the last books she was reading before her death in 1962 is one by F.M. Alexander himself called Man's Supreme Inheritance. Her copy of this book featured in the Marilyn exhibition held at Bendigo Art Gallery in 2016. She was closely reading the book not long before her death as indicated by the many annotations up to page 157, where she had placed a bookmark.
You may have an image of Marilyn Monroe as preoccupied with her body image, but she have a great mind and was a true intellectual. Her library had over 400 books, with favourite authors including Joyce, Freud, Hemingway.
I would love to read those annotations! Looking at my own copy of Man's Supreme Inheritance, Marilyn would have been reading sections of the book such as:
. Conscious control
. Applied conscious control
. Habits of thought and of body
In her last interview, Marilyn says "An actor is not a machine, no matter how much they want to say you are. Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you're a human being, you feel, you suffer. You're gay, you're sick, you're nervous or whatever. Like any creative human being, I would like a bit more control so that it would be a little easier for me when the director says, "One tear, right now," that one tear would pop out. But once there came two tears because I thought, "How dare he?" Goethe said, "Talent is developed in privacy," you know? And it's really true. There is a need for aloneness, which I don't think most people realise for an actor." Richard Meryman, Life, 3 August 1962. The extract is from an edited version of the interview
By control, I think she is getting at something like the psychophysical unity stressed by Alexander - essential for great acting. Alexander himself had been a Shakespearean reciter.
Marilyn also owned another book by Alexander, the much more readable Use of the Self. Her copy sold at auction in 1999