Sports and Fitness
CAN THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE HELP ME IMPROVE MY POSTURE?
By Hope Gillerman and Joan Arnold,
certified teachers of the Alexander Technique,
with Teresa Zimmerer
"People have associations regarding good posture that are wrong, that are based on ideas of holding oneself in an erect, stiff position. But good posture is natural to the body."
Hope Gillerman, The New York Sun, August 2003
THE POSTURE PROBLEM
You look in the mirror and you're not happy with what you see. Maybe your shoulders round forward. Your butt sticks out. Your knees point in. You don't like your walk. You can't stand that stoop. Maybe you try to fix the problem by listening to the familiar voices in your head-"Stand up straight!" "Tuck your pelvis!" "Pull your shoulders back!" "Hold your head up!" You try arranging body parts. You tuck your pelvis. You straighten up. It looks better, but feels like so much work.You let go, and there's the same old posture again. You figure you're lazy or too tightly wound or out of shape. Maybe you think your posture runs in the family.
HOW YOU MOVE AFFECTS HOW YOU LOOK
Though you may not realize it, what you do and how you do it affect the shape, tone and feel of your body. We are constantly in motion, even while sitting, and posture is like a still photograph of the way we move. By changing the way you perform ordinary activities with the Alexander Technique, your posture naturally improvesnot from artificial, external stiffening, but from ease and inner expansion.
YOU CAN LEARN TO CHANGE
You can change your posture. By refining your overall body awareness with the Alexander Technique, you start to recognize when your alignment is out of balance. You learn a manageable, sustainable way to restore it. With the teacher's gentle hands-on guidance, you let your neck and shoulder tension go. You allow an easy relationship between the head, neck and spine. You learn to elicit what Alexander called the primary control: the tendency of the spine to lengthen in motion. With it, you relieve tension and discomfort while streamlining your movement.
YOUR INTERNAL SUPPORT SYSTEM
What appears as lazy or stiff posture is really a lack of central coordination: some muscles work too hard while others barely engage. Alexander Technique lessons will change how you perceive and experience your body's support system.You see that it functions not in segments but as a whole. Your teacher provides a model of graceful body management, and helps you marshal the ideal relationship between head and spine. You come to understand that you are not held up by an outer shell of tension, but are motivated from within. You learn how to engage your internal support system, to release and direct your own internal dynamic energy.
THE BENEFITS OF EASE & POISE
As you restore your natural poise, you find greater stability, balance and fluidity. Good posture is the contour of improved functioning: your stance looks better because your body feels good and works well. Regaining your full stature has other implications.You learn to handle stress with more calm.You bring to your personal and work life greater confidence, improved concentration, better endurance. And you understand that you have more control than you realized over how you look and feel.
A PROVEN METHOD
The Technique's many benefits have been proven and measured in research studies. One study conducted at Tufts University demonstrated that learning and applying the Alexander Technique profoundly affected subjects' postural habits. In a 1980 study of those with scoliosis, the Technique demonstrably helped them improve their appearance, strengthen their spinal musculature and achieve maximum spinal support. The Technique also has been shown to improve breathing capacity. Known to modify our many stress responses, it is, for those who suffer from chronic pain, the preferred method for long-term relief. In the Alexander Technique's hundred year history, their are countless stories of measurable improvements. As others have, you can apply the Technique's set of simple principles to your own needs and objectives. And there might come a day when you look in the mirror and find that those voices in your head are quieter, and you've changed.