Irina van der Sluijs

Alexander technique

Recently I have taken up lessons in Alexander technique. My yoga teacher Petri mentioned that he uses similar techniques in Ashtanga. That made me curious.

It is quite extraordinary this body-awareness work. The idea is to restore the natural balance of our body so we sit, stand, walk, drink, type, etc.. in an effortless way. It sounds simple but we are so used to ignoring our body during the day and beat it up in the gym in the evening that we do not feel this natural bone balance anymore. We use outer sleeve muscle (courtesy of Ken the Rolfer) all the time instead of moving lightly from core.

In Alexander technique class we learn to relax before moving. Not making a forceful muscle action from our monkey mind but moving with our entire Self. This technique is very powerful as we give our nervous system some time to adjust and settle before bones and muscle are set in motion. We save precious energy. What I also love about it is that Mr. Alexander back in the early 1900s figured this out by himself, intuitively I suppose – he was just one of these people who receives gifts from god to hand out.

I find it inspiring to come across many initiatives these days where people try to restore natural body movement for the well -being of all. We tend to forget that how we feel in our bodies is deeply connected to our mood, behaviour and our perspective of the world around us. A friend forwarded me a website from this American lady who got rid of all her furniture in the house so she would feel upright again, lengthening her back all the time during any kind of mundane activity.

Or as Ken would say: lengthening the back is what people in India still do al the time, squatting, sitting on the floor and crossed-legged is the best way to stretch the back and your hip flexors as they are crucial in keeping us stabile and connected to earth. Sitting in chairs, like we do all the time, shortens these hip muscles and makes us loose mobility in the body. And in the end quite possibly our mind will get stiff too….