Handbrake Warning

Handbrake Warning


Though we all need to move, we often visualise our bodies in somewhat fixed terms.  We may even have been told to arrange them in particular configurations: “chin up - stomach in - chest out - tuck that tailbone under…”  Many fitness instructors and educators assert that there's a 'right place’ to 'put' your head/stomach/chest/tailbone (good luck with 'putting your tailbone' anywhere, by the way).  Do you believe there’s a ‘correct’ place where you ought to ‘put’, ‘keep’ or ‘hold’ your head?

Meet Bob.  Bob believes there is a 'right place' to 'put' his head, so he’ll absolutely 'put it' wherever he thinks that is – and then strive to keep it there.  As soon as he thinks about keeping anything anywhere, he'll employ muscles to do so.  Muscles don't just move joints.  They can also prevent joints from moving; which can make them (and their driver) pretty tired, sore and stiff, after a bit.

As soon as Bob moves out of his lovely ‘correct’ position, he’s by definition no longer in it… if he can move easily at all, that is.  He may find it arduous, because he may have kind of parked himself and put the handbrake on. 

If your movements feel stiff, you too could have jammed yourself up in the pursuit of ‘right places’ and 'single right answers’.  This is why, in lessons, Alexander teachers prefer not to use the words ‘position’ or ‘posture’; they're static concepts.  ‘Poise’ works better, because Bob can continue to have great poise and still move (without ‘grinding the brakes’, or keeping muscles contracted unnecessarily).

The Alexander Technique can help you reason your way from thinking and fixing (rigidity/brakes on) to thinking and moving (flexibility).  We were made to be flexible. 

Now do you think there’s a single right place your head should be?

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