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In the Alexander Technique class, we were told how our bodies are actually made and that we destroy them through our laziness. When I was growing, my mother used to always tell me to align my posture in order to grow tall.Â At that time, it sounded very weird, but now I regret the fact that I did not listen to her.
The common problem I have seen is that if posture is not aligned, you can develop many other problems.
Defining Ideal Posture
Sweigard (1978 - page number) defines the upright posture as:
"the consistent and persistent alignment of the skeletal structure in relation to the line of gravity when the subject assumes as easy standing position with the weight evenly distributed - according to his or her own judgement - on the feet, with the ankles in the sagittal plane of the femoral joints and with the arms hanging freely at the sides."
Donald Weed (1990 - page number-272, book title-dynamic alignment through imagery, by Eric Franklin), a teacher of the Alexander technique, writes that "all of the work can be distilled down to two discoveries:-
- In every movement you make, there is a change in the relationship of your head with your body that precedes and accompanies that movement, and which either helps you or gets in your way.
- The conscious mind has the capacity to over-ride every system, including the natural ones."
"The Alexander concept of inhibition, of "saying no" to the habitual mental and physical reactions, is very relevant to imagery work as well.Â To use an image effectively, you first need to clear your mind.Â You cannot be in a nervous state, your mind filled with a jumble of thoughts, and then pile some images on top of all that.Â It simply does not work.Â You must be open and receptive to new possibilities in your body.Â Nor should it be necessary to act on every impulse that comes to mind or muscle.Â In this way you can become selective about how you perform a movement, choosing the most efficient of the many movement patterns available.Â The proper pattern can only be found in a most peaceful state - a state in which impulsive movement patterns can be ignored, over-ridden or inhibited".
This shows us that for a dancer to carry on the technique properly it is very essential to have the right postural alignment and the fact that one of the greatest artist-Alexandra has mentioned it proves the importance of the technique. It also proves that our mind and body is connected and without one another cannot function. Acting on every impulse will only lead to a lot of tension, which is bad for the body, so it is important to have constructive rest too.
By contrast, Moshe Feldenkrais' technique (page11, dynamic alignment through imagery) says there is no right or wrong posture.Â The technique asks questions such as:
What is your structure?
Where are you?
What are you doing?
He uses movement exercises, some of them deceptively simple, to create astonishing changes in flexibility and movement patterns.Â It sometimes requests the student to perform a movement on one side of the body and only visualise it on the other side, or to imagine a movement several times before actually doing it.
Author Layna Verin (1980, Page-11, dynamic alignment through imagery) states that Feldenkrais accomplishes its result by enabling you to become more sensitive to differences.Â By devising a configuration of movements that cannot be performed without this refinement, by making you aware of the minute interval between the time your body mobilises for movement and you actually do that movement - the minute interval that allows you to exercise that capacity for differentiation and to change.
We also used the Skinner Releasing technique in class, which has a lot to do with the somatic approach to an ideal posture.Â Joan Skinner (1990 - Page-9, dynamic alignment through imagery)
"When we are dealing with multidirectional balancing - not holding the balance in any part of your body, but relating to multigravitational fields.Â When this alignment is harmonious to other energy systems, it releases the individual.Â Distortion of alignment constricts the individual.Â These distortions are constructive because they are warps of the energy patterns which float through us and around us.Â A Releasing alignment is not a fixed alignment.Â It's always in flux.Â Everything is relative to everything else.Â When it is harmonious, the something is unleashed, then power and energy are released and that become releasing dance."
This is a very essential technique in connection to postural alignment and dance as this has a perfect combination, because it talks about releasing stress and coming into a right angle. It has a lot to do with relativity of every aspect of the body to one another and this proves that even dance cannot be done without correct posture.
Ballet dancing has a lot to do with postural alignment.Â Whenever we have the class, our teacher specifically tells us to focus on our posture.Â If the posture is right, then it is very easy to dance.
Golf has a lot to do with posture alignment also.Â When we play this game, the shots of the ball, the holding of the club and the entire follow through depends a lot on the correct posture.Â In India, I played golf with my father, who taught me the game, and he always used to emphasize this aspect.
According to Alexander, when we were born we had a beautiful body posture but, unfortunately, with our own wrong movements, actions and behaviour, we end up destroying it.Â So it is very important to realise this fact and work on our bodies to come back to the one's true self.
When we did the activity of constructive rest, or even when we do the wake-up session in yoga, it is the resting position called shavassana, or the 'corpse position', which relaxes and releases all the tension from the body and helps us to come back to the right alignment or to the correct posture.Â After my body scan of the constructive rest I realised that my body only comes to its correct natural alignment when I am lying in the position without any stress, so I am aiming that, by the end of three years, I will get the right aligned posture.
SPINE is one of the body parts which I give a lot of importance too.
In k.coe maams Monday class, we had a topic of discussion, which was the spine. Even in natali maams class our one day focus was just on the spine.
During all the exercises I realised that spine doe's play a major role in our postural alignment. It also gives a sense of direction to the posture. The posture depends a lot on the spine.
When we did an exercise of choosing a patterned and identifying or locating the spine, it was very interesting , as while doing this exercise, we actually came to the realisation that spine has a lot to do with ones posture, dance, body movement, body pattern, body structure and overall development.
We also had an exercise of running and thinking about the spine. It was very interesting as my spine could actually feel as a separate part of the body. In the beginning I could not identify it but slowly-slowly my mind started working towards it and I could feel it. Sometimes the stress in the shoulders leads to a constant pain in the spine too. That is one more icing that I noticed in this exercise.
Even if one small part of the physical body moves, spine is affected by it as if it is the basis of the body.
When we do the rolling down exercise, I feel my spine gets stretched; the right stretch has also made me more flexible than before.
While doing the constructive rest exercise, in the beginning my spine always feels heavy. It takes some time for it to relax.
In school, I participated in a play called the crucible, which had a lot to do with witchcraft and wizards. So as I was a witch, I had to dance in the forest. This dance was done by moving our body from head to toe in the most flexible way that we could and while doing few of the exercises I still remember that my spine got injured. But by the end of the vigorous practise for two months I did realise that my flexibility had become much stronger. Also my alignment of the body had come into a balancing position.
Page-193(dynamic alignment through imagery)
"Once, while in a supine position, I experienced the following spontaneous image, which gave me a feeling of depth and fluidity. My spine had become the bottom of a primal ocean. The surface onto the floor of the ocean, creating an even thicker layer, higher and softer costing that slowly rose to the surface of the water. This experience was a welcome counterbalance to the notion of the spine as a chain of rigid building blocks. On analysis spine has many fluids and soft aspects. The intervertabral disks contain a fluid filled nucleus, the spinal cord is surrounded by the cerebrospinal fluid and even bone with its narrow core is fluid like at its centre. Fluidity should not be equated with weakness, however if you ever have been knocked down by a breaking wave at the beach, you can appreciate this".
So both postural alignment play, develop and enhance each other and they are one of the major parts of our body and everyday life.