The Ever Changing Face of Posture – What’s Star Trek got to do with it!? By Adrian Ward

Often when I tell people that I teach the Alexander Technique, they usually respond by saying: "oh! isn't that about posture?" Next they proceed to pull themselves up straight and throw back their shoulders declaring themselves to have terrible posture! 

The Alexander Technique is about posture but it's also about so many other things too. I tend to avoid the word posture as it carries with it preconceived ideas about correct, held or fixed positions. Posture is fluid and dynamic, constantly changing from moment to moment. Students understandably want to know the right way that they should sit or stand.

fter a lesson with F.M. Alexander (Founder of the Alexander Technique), he would often encourage his pupils to throw it all away and not try to hold onto their new - found co-ordination.

Mind and body unity... 
F.M. Alexander clearly understood that the mind and body were completely interconnected, which is why he referred to the Self rather than the body or the mind. Whatever you think, will be reflected physically somewhere in the body. The same applies the other way around. The quality of your thinking can have a profound influence over how your body moves and co-ordinates. 

I teach my students to think in a specific way in order to undo unconscious postural habits and encourage release and lengthening in tight muscles. Practicing these thinking skills along with my 'hands on' guidance, allows your body to re-organise itself and find where it needs to be in relation to it's surrounding space.

If you try and physically make these changes happen, i.e throw back your shoulders or pull yourself up straight, you are not really addressing your underlying habitual use pattern. Instead you will be layering on more tension to already existing tension. It is only through this clearly projected directive thinking that you can unlock your natural posture or poise, as I like to call it. Otherwise you will just fall into habit

To boldly go into the unknown….

Habits are comforting to us and feel right because they are familiar. However, just because something feels right, doesn’t mean to say it is! Feelings can be misleading and our interpretation of them is not always accurate. F.M Alexander called this faulty sensory awareness.

In a lesson I will teach my pupils not to rely on their feelings but to trust in their thinking without feeling out a response. This doesn’t mean to say they won’t notice any changes, it just steers them away from relying on feeling as a guide. Only in this way will a new co-ordination and organisation of the body be brought about.

Through this process you are constantly evolving into a new state of being. The ever - evolving new posture will never feel exactly the same as it did yesterday as you have moved into a new one. It will not necessarily feel familiar or right at first as you are constantly in flux and never remain the same from one moment to the next. You could say you are continuously stepping into unknown territory or as the famous quote from Star Trek goes: 'to boldly go where no man has gone before'.

Something to try whilst standing:

Ask for an overall lengthening from your feet to the crown of your head. Ask or wish with intention. Release your feet into the floor and allow your head to be sent upwards towards the ceiling. By undoing upwards you are uncoiling like a spring and becoming more poised for movement.

Something to try at your desk:

Make sure you are balanced over your sitting bones, the bony bits at the bottom of your pelvis. A flat hard chair surface is recommended. 
Think of releasing the sitting bones into the chair and sending the head away from them. You want the whole torso to be brought into length. You can ask the back and front of you to lengthen whilst seated. 
Check to see you are not holding your breathing.  
Ask your neck to be free and un-grip. 

For both experiments above be aware of your surrounding environment and ask your whole self to expand into the space around you. Remember you are three dimensional (at least!) so be aware of the space behind you as well as in front! 

Try some Active Rest, lying down!

Lying down in the semi supine position can help release tired muscles and have a big impact on your changing posture. To benefit from this practice, it is important to apply directive thinking, as it's this skill which will bring about the changes you want. Please read my Active Rest blog for instructions on how to do this practice. 

Do get in touch with any questions or enquiries about lessons. I would love to hear from you! To book an appointment email me at adrian_ward@hotmail.com or call 07762 631 997. If you would like to find out more go to  www.useyourbodywell.co.uk  

marisa Guthrie