so, as some of you may know, i’ve been studying the Alexander technique.  in fact i literally took a lesson and my hands got jealous of the teacher (this has never happened to me before) and i was all “what is that?  where do i learn that???” and she said “Alexander Technique” and i said “how much?” and handed her a cheque.


and here’s the thing, it’s a THREE YEAR program and i won’t even really start learning the hands on stuff for TWO MORE YEARS and at first i was a little frustrated.  i was all “but but i spent all this money and my jealous hands and and and what?” but now i am really seeing that without the entire three years (1200-1500 hours depending on how you count) the training is useless.  i can sort of learn some like by rote stuff with my hands but i won’t “get it” until i just plain old study for another thousand hours.

it’s gotten pretty funny because the more i learn the less i can articulate it, so i’ll be telling people that i’m studying alexander and they ask me what it is and i sort of babble inarticulately or tell the story of HOW mr alexander came to his discoveries rather than explain *what* they are.  if you want a quick bio it’s here.  because the thing with mr. alexander’s work is that he came to a fundamental building block of human movement and learning such that you can’t explain it because you have to actually experience it.  or, to put it another way, experiencing a repatterning of the way you use your own self is kind of the only way to understand what it is.

anyway so i’m miss inarticulate now, which is super funny for someone who is as wordy as i actually am!

but here’s the thing, already there are some profound and wonderful changes happening in my teaching and my conception of movement; the kind of changes that clients feel immediately and further than can have pretty significantly powerful effects.  i’ve come to think of these changes as the unlayering effect.

for years i (and many many teachers before me) have been, with the greatest of good intentions, layering new thoughts over old patterns.  the easiest example of this comes with the shoulders.  nearly everyone has at some point experienced having their shoulders live beside their ears, and i, for YEARS, have been saying “pull your shoulders down” or “drop your shoulders” or even “let your shoulders rest on your rib cage” and none of this is WRONG exactly but the intent isn’t clear.

because, you see, i don’t want you to “pull” your shoulders down.  not really.  i don’t want you to add new layers to the existing ones because in the long run that just creates MORE kinesthetic confusion!

kinesthesis – the ability to feel movements of the limbs and body

proprioception – the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts

what i really want, and wasn’t articulating, is for you to STOP pulling your shoulders UP!

or to put it another way, when you find yourself not breathing i am no longer going to say “don’t forget to breathe” but rather “stop not breathing” because one of those thoughts is a layering of new patterns over old and the other is a release of the old thought with the potential for learning a whole new way of using your self or existing with your body.

maybe this doesn’t sound like such a big deal to anyone who doesn’t teach movement but it’s a huge deal to me and it’s having a phenomenal and profound effect on the experiences my clients are having when they come in and see me.

it’s funny, i always knew i would do a second certification, but i really thought it would be in PILATES rather than a whole new idea and methodology!  but maybe this had to come first because while i truly believe that mr. pilates built us an alphabet for movement i also truly believe that mr. alexander’s work comes before the alphabet or learning to read.  with mr. alexander’s work we can change the body’s entire feeling and the HOW of your learning and that’s going to have a huge effect when we get to learning that alphabet.

what a gorgeous marriage, i would love to have been a fly on the wall if mr. alexander and mr. pilates ever met but it’s my understanding that they did not.  such a pity, they had so much in common and so much to teach each other!

ahh bliss, feeling the fireworks go off in my head as whole new areas of exploration open their vistas before me  :)

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