The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

HEALING BACK PAIN WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF MOVEMENT

 

Wednesday Mobilignment classes in NYC have been super fun! It’s a mix of professional dancers, new dancers, and total beginners who are not dancers at all.

The really cool thing is – if you look at the short video above, you canʻt tell which is which – beginner, professional, smeshional! Everyone is discovering new, easier movement patterns. So if you want a place where you can really move and you don’t have to try and fit in to a professional dance class, it’s perfect.

Alexander Technique and Mobilignment™ at Movement Research in NYC
Gibney Dance, 280 Broadway
Wednesdays 2:00 – 4:00 pm, November & December
Click here for more info.

Lately I have been emphasizing the healing properties of the paired concepts:

“primary” and “secondary.”

These concepts propose a new way of looking at both posture and movement that will never make your body stiff and strained. Primary (towards self) and secondary (away from self) reflect the flow of life lived in a gravitational field, including towards the ground/self and away from the ground/self. It’s so simple, but it can be found in absolutely everything that we do. In the video above, the movers are naturally alternating between one and the other – but the only directive I gave them was to alternate how they were paying attention!

We shifted attention to self, then to environment (“not-self”), and then explored a kind of “wandering” of attention between the two. That alternating flow of attention is something we do all the time to navigate our world, without really “thinking” about it.

I usually start with primary because most of us don’t get enough of it. Or, if we do, we only get it in our thoracic spine and call it “slumping” because we are not allowing our head and primary focus to go all the way towards self. We are usually pulling some part of us up and out of it, causing compression and “neck forward” posture.

We rarely get to release our whole body completely into this curled state. Our grown up bodies are so different from an infants body, as the size of our limbs in relationship to our torso is so much larger. Check out this weird drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci, which shows a pretty buff semi-adult baby! Even as grown ups, though, our limbs can still fold, tuck, and spiral to facilitate this movement with some modification and adjustments:

 

 

To do it, you will really have to stop trying to straighten your spine and throw back your shoulders! Extension, or “secondary” also goes with our preferred adult mode of paying attention. We get pulled away from awareness of ourselves and into work, or whatever is being demanded of us in the world.

I suggest beginning with primary, or fetal movement, at the beginning of any warm up for activity:

1) Go on to “all fours.” Place your hands right under your shoulder joints, your toes together behind you, and your knees angles slightly outwards (definitely NOT parallel for you dancers).

2) Look down. Can you see behind you between your legs? Did your back stay straight? If so, let go. Let it curl. Your pelvis will shift up and back, but it won’t be because you tuck your stomach in. It will be because you stopped trying to keep your back straight.

3) Fold your elbows until your forearms are resting on the floor, and keep looking under yourself til your forehead rests on the floor. It should feel easy, you shouldn’t be pushing your head down with force from your neck, just letting it rest. Your knees will fold to allow the weight of your pelvis to shift and go back, where it can rest on your heels if your knees allow. If your knees are tight or creaky, just explore the movement as far as you can go smoothly without forcing your head onto the floor. Don’t push, just ease into it and out of it – back up onto all fours, looking out, and explore primary/seceondary as a movement, rather than a shape.

4) MODIFICATION FOR TIGHT HIPS: you can rest your head on a high, hard-ish pillow or block if your hip joints are tight. There is no need to push or force hip flexion.

5) After finding your easiest possible fetal resting place, you can gently roll onto your side (looking to the left or right to start the roll) and continue the spiral into a kind of open X-shape on your back – that would be a release, or “reset” from primary into secondary. Enjoy the support of the floor behind you and see how much of your environment you can take in from there.

Itʻs a release into supported expansion, instead of a pull into expansion.

Enjoy this postural reset 🙂 – and if you want guidance in how to do it, come to class!

 

 

 

November 18th, 2019 • No Comments

A VERY SPECIAL OFFER AND IMAGINATIVE FOOT PAIN SOLUTIONS

 

 

 

Mobilignment™ is really taking off. Next month I will be teaching live classes in NYC at Movement Research. But if you are not in NYC, maybe you’d be interested in this special offer: one free online 30 minute session and one group class.

I need 6 people to be part of a Mobilignment class online that will be used on my website as a way for people to see what a Mobilignment class is like – and how fun it is!!!! Each participant will get one individual free 30 minute Mobilignment session, and one free Mobilignment group class, in exchange for their presence.

Have you been curious? No previous experience is necessary at all! So this is your chance to jump in.

Free Mobilignment Class will be November 10, 12:00 – 1:15 EST. Once you register to participate, you will need to set up your free 30 minute lesson for a time convenient to you, before that November 10 class.

DEADLINE FOR SIGNING UP TO PARTICIPATE: OCTOBER 28

Now, as far as foot pain solutions goes…my suggestion for today is to get off of your feet! There is only one Moblignment point totally designed to be weight bearing on the bottom of your foot. In the illustration above it would be right under Crime & Corruption! How appropriate for todays news.

Can you take 5 minutes today to do something out of the ordinary with your feet? Something other than sitting, standing, or walking?

Here are a few suggestions, but I’m sure that you can come up with your own:

1) Lie on your back with your feet resting on a wall. Play around with brushing your feet along the wall at different angles: side, bottom, top of your foot. You will have to let other parts of your body move, turn, roll, in order to rest different parts of your foot on the wall. As you lie there let your neck be easy and calm, and let your head rest. Let your back widen and your pelvic floor open.

2) Find a way to move about without putting the sole of your foot on the floor.

3) Imagine that the bottom of your foot was an eye. How would you move? What would your eyes (left and right) see?

INTERESTED IN WORKSHOPS AND TRAININGS?

Here are some of the things that my Moblignment Level 1 Teachers have said during the course of our training about the benefits of our practice:

“Practicing the “preludes” I find that that I can stop trying so hard, orient towards what is positive for me in the moment, and connect with myself without effort.”

“I feel relief at discovering what is holding me back!”

“It’s so important that I have time to integrate my emotional responses to change.”

“It’s amazing to see myself clearly without critical judgement!”

MOBILIGNMENT CLASSES:

1) WORLDWIDE ONLINE:
Next class Sunday, October 27
11 – 12:30 EST, $35, Register here.

2) MOBILIGNMENT LIVE IN NYC, WEEKLY CLASSES IN NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
Alexander Technique and Mobilignment™ at Movement Research in NYC
Gibney Dance, 280 Broadway
Wednesdays 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Click here for more info.

3) MOBILIGNMENT TRAINING:
Our second training is now open for registration! The training is online, January 6 – 10, 9 – 11 am. Early bird registration at $496 offers a discount of $30 and is open until November 15, 2019. Anyone who has attended classes already is welcome.

Interested? Drop me a line!

4) ARE YOU AN A.T. TEACHER?
Come explore your brilliance in the Alexander Technique Experimenters Union, where we share new, unique teaching ideas in a structured environment and give each other constructive, reliable feedback. We dare to go where no one has gone before!

We meet online every Friday from 12:00 – 1:15 EST, Go here to register and find out more about our peer-to-peer work exchange format.

Our online meetings have been so full of support, joy, and discovery!

October 21st, 2019 • No Comments

HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE MYSELF FROM HEAD TO TOE

  

 

My feet were once the most hated (yes, hated) part of my body. They did not look good, or more importantly, feel good when I pointed them as a young dancer.

Since they wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do, I decided quite consciously to hate them. You can imagine that this didn’t work very well in terms of getting me what I wanted:

– a foot that looked long and pointed clearly in any direction

– a foot that felt good, soft, and springy that I could jump, turn, and balance on.

Needless to say, this may have contributed to all of the sprained ankles, knees, and shin splints that I experienced by the time I was 23.

I realized this morning, as I prepared to make the last video in my Mobilignment™ Series, that I had arrived at my foot. I also realized how much my feelings about my feet have changed!

The Alexander Technique is perfect for those who want to learn self-love and self-care. An Alexander teacher will not focus directly on your emotional state. You are not trying to change it at all. In my case, this was probably the only way I could have discovered a different relationship to my emotions. My relationship to myself was one of compulsive control, so if you had directly tried to pry me away from that project I would have resisted. In fact, if you knew me in those days, I probably did resist!

My feelings about myself weirdly shifted from hate to love almost instantly during my first Alexander influenced dance class. I honestly didn’t know that it was possible to send a light thought to myself, feel that good, and dance at the same time. The feeling good translated instantly into gratitude. Thank you Clare!

This is called “sending direction” in the Alexander Technique practice. You think of your own energy flowing in a direction that is in harmony with your structure, and with the force of gravity. You make friends with gravity as a springboard for your movement.

Right now you can imagine energy running down your leg and out of your toes. Self-hate, away! Like an internal massage, this movement of energy might bring about a softening of your foot where it is in contact with the floor. It might become a bit more springy. It might ease a pulling in your neck when the rest of you realizes that your foot is on the ground.

Since you are probably on your feet for much of your day, how you feel about them is profound. How they touch the floor and spring up off of it is profound. Imagine what it really means if you hate them! Or, if you just never think about them until they hurt.

So welcome to the International Month of the Foot! More to come…

Lots of love,

Clare

 

CONNECT WITH ME IN PERSON:

1) Free 15 minute phone consultation: (718) 243-2720

2) Private AT lessons in my Madison Square Park Studio

3) Private Mobilignment™ sessions online

 

INTERESTED IN WORKSHOPS, TRAININGS, OR ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE COMMUNITY PROJECTS?

Here are some of the things that my Moblignmen™t Level 1 Teachers have said during the course of our training about the benefits of this our practice:

“Practicing the “preludes” I find that that I can stop trying so hard, orient towards what is positive for me in the moment, and connect with myself without effort.”

“I feel relief at discovering what is holding me back!”

“It’s so important that I have time to integrate my emotional responses to change.”

“It’s amazing to see myself clearly without critical judgement!”

1) WORLDWIDE MOBILIGNMENT™ONLINE:
Next class Sunday, October 27
11 – 12:30 EST, $35, Register here.

2) MOBILIGNMENT™ LIVE IN NYC, WEEKLY CLASSES IN NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
Alexander Technique and Mobilignment™ at Movement Research in NYC
Gibney Dance, 280 Broadway
Wednesdays 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Click here for more info.

3) MOBILIGNMENT™ TRAINING:
Our second training is now open for registration! The training is online, January 6 – 10, 9 – 11 am. Early bird registration at $496 offers a discount of $30 and is open until November 15, 2019. Anyone who has attended classes already is welcome.

Click here for more information.

4) WORLDWIDE ALEXANDER TEACHER EXPERIMENTERS UNION:
Come explore your brilliance in the Alexander Technique Experimenters Union, where we share new, unique teaching ideas in a structured environment and give each other constructive, reliable feedback. We dare to go where no one has gone before!

We meet online every Friday from 12:00 – 1:15 EST, Go here to register and find out more about our peer-to-peer work exchange format.

Our meetings are full of support, joy, and discovery!

September 30th, 2019 • No Comments