Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Medically recognized posture problems are defined by an unusual curvature of the spine, called lordosis, kyphosis or scoliosis which all cause contractions and shortening of the torso. In addition many people are aware that they tend to stand on one dominant leg, jutting out the opposite hip or that they hold their heads tilted to one side or constantly cross their legs or arms. On a deeper level I see posture problems based on tension patterns that result from and lead to physical and emotional discomfort. Many women hold their stomach in and pull their pelvis forward in order to flatten their figures. Others cross their arms or curl forward to conceal their breasts and any conceived flaws in them. Taller women suffering from the demands of fitting in with height standards shorten themselves in unhealthy ways.
Forty years ago a group of women self-published a booklet called Women and Their Bodies which soon became the influential Our Bodies, Ourselves. Interestingly the search for ‘posture’ when entered on their website bears no results, yet under the subheading ‘body image’ one can find details about plastic surgery and liposuction, to name the more benign interventions undertaken by women to adapt their appearances to social “ideals”. The number of breast implants has tripled since 1997 and breast enhancement surgery has become a popular graduation gift. But do such measures enhance our self esteem?
But it’s by no means only women who are conscious of their posture and wish to improve how they look and feel. Men are coming to me for Alexander Technique lessons in equal numbers; in fact men tend to make more often a deeper commitment to stay on until their wish for marked improvement is met.
The Alexander Technique offers an alternative approach to relate to our bodies. It is a gentle hands-on way of learning, integrating mind, body and emotional validation. This work teaches students not only to understand and accept their bodies with deeper awareness, but also to change their body and body image. You will not be treated passively, but instead you will learn tools that enable you to consciously direct yourself to open and spacious alignment and to inhibit old holding habits. Your spine can lengthen into its natural full stature; your neck and shoulders can release from their shortened or narrowed position and your head can freely balance itself. Learning how to reduce the amount of effort as you work, walk, sit, bend, stand, dance or work out is essential to your sense of wellbeing. As you learn to move better you will feel better.
The Alexander Technique is a gentle way of learning that integrates mind and body with emotional validation. In lessons students learn to understand and accept their bodies with deeper awareness. With gentle hands-on guidance I will teach you tools to change your body and your body image.
Students learn to enjoy their full height, they can experience that they are not taking up the space of other’s when they allow themselves more inner space and breathing room. They enjoy their bodies in new ways, in stillness and motion. They become more comfortable wherever they are, speaking in front of a group or walking by a mirror. As one student (a man) recently commented, ‘I know I haven’t lost weight, but I don’t feel fat anymore’. Physical self-awareness and a sense of wellbeing often communicate a state of beauty completely released from visual standards and comparisons. After all good posture arises from the simple pleasure of our physical presence.