When it comes to improving our posture, many people feel that we need to do something special such as pull ourselves up straight, or pull our shoulders back, tuck our tummy in and then try and hold onto it. However nothing could be further from the truth. We don't see young children doing such things so why should adults? No, we don't need to do anything to get good posture as the right thing does itself. What we do need to do is get out of the way of ourselves to 'let it happen'.
If something is wrong, the feeling is that we should correct it. With regards to our body and specifically our posture, if we 'try' to correct it we will almost certainly trip up and do it wrongly. Our physique and our muscular-skeletal system is far more complex than we can understand and any endeavour to 'correct' an unwanted system will amount to another form of interference.
We have evolved as a species over millions of years and we have ended up on two feet, not by accident by a process of evolution. There is plenty of evidence to indicate that our body has adapted to being on two feet rather than four. The rotation of the vestibular mechanism in the inner ear by 90 degrees to allow for upright posture. for starters. But now we are on two legs, it is a mistake to take our balance and posture for granted. Standing on two small feet and being quite tall with a centre of gravity high up, we are quite precarious and under threat of falling over. Gravity is working away the whole time and we need to live in harmony with it; we need to be in balance or we get under strain.
Any unnecessary tension interferes with the subtle and complex muscle co-ordination and balance that keeps us upright. These muscle contractions pull us out of shape, distorting our poise, pulling us off balance so we stiffen and lock our joints to prevent ourselves from falling over. You may think that I exaggerated, but most of the people who come for Alexander Technique lessons are physically off balance. The only reason they do not fall over is that they are compensating with other tensions and adjustments. But it is these very tensions that can cause further problems, painful symptoms, poor breathing, lack of confidence and tendency to injury later in life.
Trying to correct our posture can mistakely involve making more effort to adjust a faulty mechanism. In the majority of cases, it is not more effort that is required, but less effort; it is the release of unwanted tensions that is likely to allow an improvement in posture, not the creation of more. If some one's shoulders are rounded, it is likely to be because they are being pulled forward by muscle tensions in the front. It is a mistake to make other tensions in the back to pull them backwards. That can only result in a Royal battle between muscles in the front and back fighting one another and will result in overall stiffness and fixation. The answer is to stop pulling them forwards in the first place.
An improvement in posture inevitably requires a refinement in balance. We need to become more aware of how we are holding ourselves and develop an awareness of what we should endeavour to release. We also need to be going upwards within ourselves. I mean internal lengthening. We have evolved as a vertebrate mammal as any horse, lion, cow or dog to be free and supple and expansive in stature. We need to lengthen. This cannot be done by force or by 'pulling' ourselves upwards. It will happen if we allow it. In the Alexander Technique we achieve this by thinking. (It's quite simple really.)
Alexander evolved the technique that bears his name to relieve him of vocal problems that were plaguing his acting career in the 1880's Sydney. Over many years of experimentation he discovered that certain tendencies for him to stiffen and shorten in stature were interfering with his vocal mechanism to cause hoarseness and a loss of voice. He was confronted by his habits. He then worked on ways of inhibiting these tensional habits and improving his balance and poise. He did not come up with a theory then try and prove it. No. He worked on the practical nature of his problems, discovered what worked and what did not work, and from that came the theory; a process that is quite the reverse of most scientific discoveries.
However, FM Alexander made discoveries about human functioning that had not as yet been understood, to do with balance and co-ordination in movement and activity and the principles discovered became the foundation of the Alexander Technique we know today. He did not try to correct his posture; he worked on getting rid of the tensional habits that were interfering with his poise and undermining him. The elimination of these habits and the encouragement of a lengthening in stature, indirectly by thought, changed his life. He discovered that the right thing does itself. It just needs to be allowed. This process is what many people are now using for themselves. They are using the Alexander Technique to make the most of their own lives. I've been using it for 36 years and I can tell you this..... It keeps on getting better!
Sorry for the lack of recent blogs but I'm back again now. See you again soon. :-)