Saturday, January 28, 2012

How To Live In Response, Not In Reaction

Alexander Technique lessons helped me to:

* Feel great, more energetic, and more calm
* Let go of unnecessary tension, back and neck pain, and Carpal Tunnel problems
* Overcome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
* Beat plantar fascitis
* Move more easily and exercise without injury
Project my voice without strain
* Be less compulsive and more patient 

Hello, my name is Luke Ford. I studied daily for three years at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles to help myself and others to lead a better life. Just as the way you drive your car affects the way it functions, so too the way you drive yourself affects the way you function. 

Alexander Technique is a way of noticing how you respond to stimuli and how you can let go of those responses that don't serve you. For instance, most people respond to stimuli by compression. Whether they are lifting a bowl of soup, talking to the boss, or getting in and out of a chair, they tend to scrunch. They feel like if they can just make themselves smaller, other people will hurt them less. But that doesn't work. We can compress ourselves and other people are no more gentle with us. By contrast, when we learn to expand into activity by letting go of our interfering tension patterns, we think and feel more clearly and move more gracefully and our friends and co-workers are relieved to be around somebody who's tranquil and poised. 
Life is hard, but we can learn to be gentle with ourselves while simultaneously meeting our responsibilities with ease and joy.

When most people age, they get caught in a tightening strait-jacket of their own habits until the tasks of daily life like driving, reaching into a refrigerator, or working at a computer become difficult. This is not necessary but it has become the default trajectory for Westerners. When I see friends click a mouse or lift a beer or project their voice across a room, I notice that most of them tighten up and pull down and in on themselves in these simple acts, thus setting the stage for pain and poor performance. 

It doesn't have to be this way. Most people can learn the basics of Alexander Technique within a few lessons and begin to notice and to let go of destructive habits of needless tension.
I charge $100 for a 45-minute lesson (bring a friend or five friends to the lesson, the same price holds). With package deals, the price can go down to $50 per lesson.

Luke Ford 264 S. La Cienega Blvd. #1417 BH, CA 90211 E-mail: Phone: 323-528-5814

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can You Teach Yourself Alexander Technique?

Well, you can try. It will be easier to find a teacher to instruct you but there are many things you can do on your own to improve your use and to get a handle on the Technique.

Robert Rickover writes:

By the end of his life, Alexander had come to the conclusion that attempts to put his teaching into practice without the help of a teacher were often not successful. Yet, he did go as far as he possibly could in providingwritten guidance, in his books as well as in personal correspondence, to those who were really serious about learning his Technique on their own. In a chapter entitled "Evolution of a Technique" in his third book, The Use of the Self (originally published in 1931), Alexander described in precise detail the process he went through to solve his voice problem. This chapter and his 1945 "Preface to New Edition" of that book, in which he addressed the many problems encountered by earlier readers in attempting to teach themselves, contain useful information for anyone who wants to try going it alone.
In addition to Use of the Self, there are three much newer books which can greatly assist in learning the Technique - with or without a teacher: How you Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery by Missy Vineyard (click here to read a review of this book),How to Learn the Alexander Technique - A Manual for Students by Barbara and William Conable, andMind and Muscle - An Owner's Manual by Elizabeth Langford.

Additional self-study resources can be found in Chapter 4 of Thorsons Principles of the Alexander Techniqueby Jeremy Chance (also available on an audio cassette tape); The Alexander Technique: First Lesson and The Alexander Technique: Solutions for Back Troubles (available in VHS and DVD format), Moving to Learn - A Classroom Guide to Understanding and Using Good Body Mechanics by Michele Aresenault (click here to order Moving to Learn) and Not to 'Do' by Fiona Robb. Roy Palmer has written a number of eBooks and booksbased on the Alexander Technique that can be used for self-study. The Secret to Using Your Body - A Manual for learning the Alexander Technique is an eBook by Leland Vall is designed for those without access to a teacher, or as a supplement to lessons.

Additionally, there are a number of helpful, and free, online resources:
  • Alexander Talk contains several MP3 conversations that contain suggestions about Alexander self-study.
  • Constructive Control, is a short video clip featuring master teacher Marjorie Barstow in which she expains this important Alexander Technique concept, and shows how to use it. Links to other clips of Marjorie Barstow's teaching - also helpful for Alexander Technique self study - can be found at herhomepage.
  • Using the Arms With Ease and EffectivenessSitting Comfortably ErectEffortless Deep Breathing andHead Neck Back Pattern, demonstrated by San Diego teacher Eileen Troberman are very useful for self-study.
  • I've Had my First Alexander Technique Lesson - What do I do Now?
  • Alexander Technique "lying down", sometimes called "constructive rest" or "active rest" is a powerful self-help process anyone can do at home. Click here for a variety of videos, audio resources, articles and blogs related to constructive rest
  • John Appleton is an Alexander Technique teacher and the developer of Posture Release Imagery. He puts forward some fascinating new self-help ideas based on imagery, which is sometimes a taboo subject in the Alexander Technique teaching world. They require some patience to understand at first, but many have found his ideas to be very helpful. Click here to read or download Posture Release Imagery resources.
  • The Alexander Technique Email discussion group can be a very useful resource - whether you are studying the Alexander Technique on your own, or with a teacher. The group is open to all, and you can get advice and help from teahers around the world! Go to Alexander Technique Online to join the group. (As with other similar groups, there are a few participants intent on engaging in debate about obscure aspects of the Technique. These can easily be ignored. The group functions at its best in response to questions from students of the Technique.)
  • Alexander Technique Blogs, a collection of the best Alexander Technique teacher and student blogs, is another useful resource. Some of the blogs listed on this site include nclude practical information for students working on their own.