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56 Alexander Technique Tips

Leland Vall www.freeyourneck.com

Description of the Alexander Technique
What is the Alexander Technique? The Alexander Technique is a set of ideas that can be described as a discipline for understanding, recognizing and preventing habits of excess tension, especially in relation to posture and movement. How is it taught? The Alexander Technique is taught through gentle, manually guided movement and verbal instructions.

Benefits The Alexander Technique offers a continuous feeling of increased lightness, ease and strength throughout the body. Its ability to remedy specific ailments relates to the amount that you are contributing to those ailments. How to Benefit from the Alexander Technique The Alexander Technique is a tool for self-discovery. Your success will mostly be based on your level of interest and the joy you take in the process of self-discovery that is outlined in the concepts of the Alexander Technique. How long does it take to benefit? The Alexander Technique is not an all or nothing proposition. Benefits come as you learn and specific lasting progress often arrives as a sudden and unexpected realization. The best way to make progress with the Alexander Technique is to be open to the possibility of self-discovery, however and whenever the event occurs. These Tips These tips are organized loosely by concept, but there is no hierarchy of importance. Each tip is meant to suggest the possibility of all the other tips, and all tips are similar in intent. Habit and Change The Alexander Technique suggests that you can break habits of excess tension by recognizing that you have other choices related to movement and posture. To use these tips successfully, any given tip must take precedence over the completion of the task at hand.

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Perception
• Experience the world from your back, forward. You might think that you experience the world as if the world is in front of you or maybe as though you are looking through a camera. Instead, think of the camera as if it is behind you. Step into the frame of your experience.

Awareness begins behind you.

Worse

Better

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See the world as if your whole face is an open eye. Avoid “trying” to feel. If something touches you, you generally feel it automatically. You don’t have to “try” to feel. Better to simply be open to the possibility of feeling. Avoid “trying” to see. Allow the light to come to you. Think a smile. Think of your body as light in weight, broad and open. No matter your position, think that you fill the room and beyond.

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Always Go Up
• Think of your body as an archer’s bow. When bending, instead of pulling yourself down, resist the downward movement just as the bow does when the string is pulled.

In all cases, avoid pulling yourself down. Only go up.

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Major Landmarks of the Body
• The torso includes the entire spine, shoulders, ribs and pelvis. The spine extends to the level of your ears, higher than the roof of your mouth.
Top of spine

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The appendages of the body include the head, arms and legs. The jaw is an appendage of the head. The arms attach to the back of your torso, not the front.

The legs attach to the pelvis at the hip joint.

The waist is not a joint.

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Doing Less
• Allow for a softening in the back of the neck. Softening the back of the neck will allow the head to rise as it releases from the top of the spine. Avoid pulling the chin down.
Better Worse

Head releasing forward and up.

Head being pulled down and back.

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Allow your ribs to hang from your spine. Allow for space between all the joints. All joints relate to each other in the same way. Any insight gained about one joint is applicable to all the joints. Dance above your legs. Exercise: Lying Down Allow for space from the extremities inward. Place a book under your head.

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Doing More
• Point your spine in the direction it is headed as if you are pointing your finger. The spine, not your ribs, supports your torso.

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Think of your spine as lively. Think of the spine as a fountain or a beam of light. Point your shoulders away from each other. Think of your shoulders as traveling in opposing directions, but neither forward nor back.

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Think of your legs as reaching to the floor from the bottom up. When standing, imagine that your legs just barely reach the floor. Exercise: Lying Down Point your spine, shoulders, elbows and knees. Place a book under your head.

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Dynamic Opposition
Article, Fitness and the Alexander Technique Article, Golf and the Alexander Technique • Proper use of the body is marked by dynamic oppositional relationships. The head goes forward and up in relation to the torso going back and up in relation to the legs going forward and down.
Worse Better

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Think of your spine as a central tent pole pulled by opposing forces. Think of your spine as a spring. The curves in the spine cause it to act as a spring. Every part and region of the body can be dynamically opposed to every other part or region of the body. This is the idea of a lively, internally dynamic body or the essence of poise, presence and athleticism. Think of your body as a wave no matter the position.

Allow for the roundness of arches within your body. Arches are dynamically active structures and your body is filled with them. There are natural arches in your feet, hands, mouth, chest and spine. All your bones are curved and they make further curves in combination. There are no straight lines in the body. Your arms and legs also form multiple arches as they function. You can find arches throughout the images in this booklet.

Think of the body as always getting larger from the extremity inward. Avoid drawing the body in on itself. www.freeyourneck.com 8 of 13 ©2010 Leland Vall

Think of the back of the heel and the back of the head as always going away from each other.
Worse Better

Exercise: Leaning Against a Wall Look for what is going back and up and what is going forward and down.

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Movement
Legs, Feet and Walking Article, Six Tips on Walking Video, Three Lessons on Walking • • • Leave your pelvis behind your legs. Leave your torso behind your head. The arms are emissaries of the torso. Avoid reaching so far that your arms pull on your torso. Instead, move your torso so that you can reach without distorting your back. The arms derive much of their strength from the torso. Distortion or lack of clarity in the torso causes arm weakness. When walking, keep your weight over your standing leg until your new foot is on the ground. Place each foot down lightly while also leaving your torso over the rear leg. Walking exercise Link As the leg swings forward, leave the hip behind. Avoid taking your feet off the floor in order to put them on the floor. When people want to feel more grounded, they often shuffle their feet or otherwise pick them up off the floor. Recognize instead that if your foot is on the floor supporting your weight, there is nothing more you have to do in order to connect it more firmly to the floor. It is already there. Similarly, to feel more grounded, avoid shifting in place. Think of the ground as rising up toward your feet. Let the ground fill your feet as if you are catching a ball. Leave your feet on the ground when the ground is within their reach.

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How to Bend Video, Three Tips for Bending 1. Leave your feet on the floor as if you are standing throughout the movement. 2. Bend at the knees, hips and ankles. 3. Avoid pulling on your head.
Worse Better

Using Chairs: Movement toward Sitting in a Chair 1. Pretend the chair is not behind you. 2. Remain standing on your feet until you reach the chair. Do not fall into the chair. 3. Remain up for the entire movement (as if the movement is happening in reverse) and avoid pulling yourself down toward the chair. Using Chairs: Rising from a Chair 1. Avoid pulling on the floor. 2. Without shortening your upper body, rotate your torso around your hip joint until your feet are supporting your weight. 3. Press the floor away until you are standing. Sit on chairs as if the chair is your legs. When you are standing, you are standing on your legs. When you are sitting, you are standing on the chair.

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©2010 Leland Vall

Breath

Breath & Voice

Article, Improve Your Breathing Breathing is improved with the reduction of premature inhalation and gasping or, in other words, inhaling before the end of the exhalation. Enjoy your exhale. Take pleasure in your exhale, don’t rush it. You can’t miss your next inhalation; it always comes at the end of your exhale, no matter when that is. Observe your breathing as if you are watching ocean waves. Try to simply be an observer in the process of breath. Without effort, notice the movement throughout your entire torso. Allow your ribs to soften so that they can swing with your breath and in relation to your pointing spine. How to Breathe Most problems in breathing come from gasping and otherwise rushing the inhalation before the end of the exhalation. Improve your breathing by learning to enjoy your exhale, allowing it to lengthen, and by gaining a perfect confidence in the eventual arrival of your next inhalation. Abbreviated Exercise for the Permanent Improvement of Breathing: 1. Throughout the exercise, observe your own breathing as if you are looking at another person or a natural process like ocean waves. 2. Observe that there is constant internal movement throughout your entire torso, front and back and all around. 3. Notice that with each exhalation there is a softening in the abdomen and a falling in the chest. 4. Enjoy your exhale and allow it to linger with perfect confidence in the eventual arrival of your next inhalation. 5. Proper breathing is marked by a lengthened and easy exhalation with a reflexive and silent inhalation.

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Voice
• Think of your voice as rising up and over your head, instead coming from under your chin. Alternatively, think of your voice as coming out of the top of your head as if it were the bell of a horn.
Your voice rising up from behind you and over your head

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Let the sound of your voice escape from your body; avoid holding it back. Avoid all use and change in your throat as you speak. Speak as though your throat has nothing to do with your voice. As you speak, allow for liveliness in your lips and the tip of your tongue. Allow sound to arrive; avoid making it. Speak as if you do not control your breath. Avoid breathing to speak. Speak as if breath is ever present and in constant supply.

Leland Vall, M.AmSAT is a certified Alexander Technique instructor based in New York. He is the author of The Secret to Using Your Body and he teaches individuals and groups how to improve posture and to breathe, move, sit and stand with greater ease and strength. Find out how to feel better every day and for the rest of your life at www.freeyourneck.com.

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©2010 Leland Vall