Posture is a contentious word in the Alexander world, just like Marmite so love it, some hate it! I’ve been listening and agreeing to both sides.
Students come to Alexander Technique teachers because of;
- poor posture,
- wanting to improve posture,
- their posture is giving them pain,
- they know we can do something about posture.
The evidence is there in the writings and videos that Alexander Technique teachers have produced and what their friends and family have also said.
Conversely the argument is true, the Alexander Technique is nothing to do with posture, it is about how you choose to think;
- having a great awareness of yourself and your surroundings,
- with an intention to do something,
- then you are available to move freely and life becomes freer by each second.
Being free by the second, pain can evaporate without you being aware that is has disappeared; this is what the Alexander Technique is without a mention of posture!
The catch with posture is that it can be a noun or a verb! Prefixing an adjective to ‘posture’ makes posture a noun, I believe this is where the trouble lies.
The noun definition from google is ‘the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting’. Clearly this fits in with the first argument; “my poor posture is the cause of my back pain”, there’s little thought of where poor posture comes from, this is because posture in this sense is a noun, it’s therefore a proper thing that other things can be attributed to it and posture gets the blame for your;
• lower back pain,
• frozen shoulder,
• neck pain
The noun generates a vicious circle of posture and pain that is very difficult to get out of as it’s not postures fault!
The verb definition from google is ‘behave in a way that is intended to impress or mislead’. This clearly fits in with the second argument, behaviour comes from thought, whether it’s conscious or not.
People come for Alexander lessons to be free from pain, improve performance, to learn to cope with life and a host of other personal aspirations. We do look at their posture in the noun form and verb perspective.
The verb posture contributes to the noun posture.
Therefore working with then verb posture will effect the noun posture, this will lessen to side effects of both the verb and noun and pain will diminish, performance will improve, the student will move closer to their aspirations, dreams and intentions.
Behaving in a way that is intended to impress or mislead is, I believe, the crux of the Alexander Technique, having the time to pause and notice to either carry on to impress or mislead, or not to; these are your choices. This is not only when you interact with others, more importantly how you interact with yourself moment by moment, molecule by molecule. Of course you can impress and mislead if you want to however both of these need to be a considered decision.
My conclusion is posture is a good word to use in the Alexander world, it is in parlance with our students, normally as a noun.
Our role as an Alexander Technique teacher is to demonstrate freedom and aliveness without the need to impress nor mislead so that the student can develop these skills themselves.
They will then discover how powerful the opposite of verb ‘posture’ is ‘to neither behave in a way that is intended to impress nor mislead’.
This profound discovery that can be applied at any moment of your choosing.