Anywhere you look, you’ll see the deterioration of people’s posture. I blame the curse of the computer, too much time spent hunched up fretting over deadlines, for the protruding bone at the top of my spine. Eager for my posture to return to its former glory, I jumped at the chance of an Alexander Technique session.
My preconception of what was involved was a lot of slow sitting and standing in a class environment. It is actually a one-to-one therapy for mind and body. So definitely nowhere to hide.
I went to the Alexander Studio and met the director of the studio, Anthony Kingsley, a hugely experienced practitioner who oozed calm and authority.
The method aims to ‘tackle the source of your problems rather than simply treating the symptoms’ so we began with a brief chat about my lifestyle, stress levels and any areas of tension or pain. Then I was up and Anthony was very lightly moving my neck to a position to dissolve any tension. This was so relaxing, my eyes kept automatically closing. But not for long; Anthony kept gently reminding me that I don’t walk around with my eyes shut.
Next came a revelation for me. Anthony guided me into a seated position on a stool and pressed my tummy to relax it a couple of times. Asked how that position felt, I responded that I was slumping but a look in the adjacent mirror revealed a perfectly straight back. I initially thought it was a fairground mirror that alters images but banishing the absurd, I realised my efforts to stand up straight have led to me overarching my back and distorting my upper body.
I then tried to take the new posture into a walk. Any changes to your gait feel intensely strange which I remarked upon but asked if I looked as weird as I felt, I saw a perfectly normal looking me reflected in the mirror.
The most enjoyable, but most challenging, part of the session was lying down and trying to relax body and mind. The body responded quite well, melting into the bed feeling blissfully heavy as it was gently manipulated into its perfect alignment. The mind resisted. ‘It’s about coming off your buttons’, Anthony explained. It seems my ‘buttons’ are always on the go, thoughts and worries creating a mass of tension between my eyes.
Once again I attempted to take my perfect horizontal posture into vertical movement while relaxing my face, thoughts and tummy. Not easy. However, I left the session revived and relaxed and felt as if I was floating down the street.
It’s a major change to alter unhelpful postural habits and would certainly require more than one class but at least I now have an awareness of what I’m doing wrong and take great pleasure in releasing my tummy. When I remember.
The Alexander Studio
1st Floor, Danceworks
16 Balderton Street
City of Westminster
Tel: 020 7629 1808
£75 per hour