How often do you think about the connection between your neck and head? Where exactly on your body do these two parts connect? What is the natural position of the head? What would it feel like if you were to free the weight of your head from the constraints of the neck?
These were some of the many questions we pondered and explored during Mary Naden’s Alexander Technique class, last Thursday. Alexander Technique teaches about the connection between mind and body that can influence postures and habits of the body. The principles are used to improve tension, stress and stiffness. Using simple group, partner and individual exercises, Naden began to show the class different patterns of stress and tension we hold. She then began to show us ways in which we could shift our thinking to impact our bodies.
In one exercise, a partner and I took turns applying pressure to each other’s backs, becoming aware of the surfaces. We then gathered in a circle placing our hands and arms along our neighbor’s backs and began to breath as a group. Thinking about the surfaces of all the backs in the circle, we began to step out wider and wider. I felt an invisible connection to everyone in the circle. Comfortable and calm we shared the same breath and pulse.
Still thinking about those backs, we began coming into the center of the circle until we were clumped together in a jumble. Once packed together, Naden asked us to then change our thoughts from our backs to our fronts. New thoughts began to creep in as we readjusted our outlook. I began to feel claustrophobic in the mass of people. Tension took hold of my shoulders and neck. I recognized this feeling from being crowded in a metro car or shopping mall. The discomfort of this closeness manifested differently in different people but it brought light to the power of thought in our actions. I realized that the simple changes we make in outlook or awareness, can have great impacts on the tension we carry in our bodies.
I hope you can join us for this week’s HOME event, Open Your Heart to Bartenieff, taught by Wayles Haynes!