Saturday, October 1, 2011

As we were walking

Nearly all of us walk every day. A quick look around indicates that everyone has their very own style, reflecting their past history and habitual way of doing things. Alexander Technique can help to make our walking more fluid and less demanding on our bodies.

What I noticed in my friend's walk

When I London, I promised to help a friend with some Alexander Technique. He is still a young man in his twenties, but periodically gets neck pain and back stiffness. He told me that his voice tends to strain by the end of the day. Sound familiar?
Nothing eventuated for several days. As he is a friend, I didn't want my advice to come over as 'you must do this'.

Then one day when we were out, something about his walking struck me. He was walking with his shoulders pulled back and his hips slightly forward. This is such a common pattern, especially amongst men. It brings much unnecessary tension to the spine – try it carefully, and you may see what I mean.

How I helped

We were walking alongside each other, with me to the left. I gently placed my left hand on the front of his left hip, with the subtlest of hints through my hand indicated that the hips didn't need to lead his walk. I placed the other on his back, again gently encouraging the upper torso forward. Through his body, he responded positively.

As American teacher Cathy Madden says, the 'head leads, so that the body follows, in order that I can … [do the desired activity]'. This is a fundamental of the Alexander Technique.

 This was a once-off activity. My friend may have really learnt something from it, he may not have. I think it was worth trying. At least it will have alerted him to the possibilities with Alexander Technique, and he may in the future have lessons in London.

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