Your Body Wants to Balance! Alexander Technique shows you how.

toddler-squatHave you ever thought why toddlers are so springy or why some dancers (like Fred Astaire) move with such ease or why do some sportsmen/women play so effortless (like Federer)?

What do they have in common? They have great balance.

So my body wants to balance eh! So why do I have tension (back or neck pain, shoulder or calve pain or even tension headaches)?

It could be a result of bad habits developed over time. The way we stand, sit, walk, play sport etc. Some of these habits could have caused some very real physical damage (scoliosis of spine, disc damage, tightening of tendons etc)

We could also be reacting to stress negatively, going into the startle reflex pattern and then moving that tense body is going to hurt:

stress_womanWe could also be interfering with our natural balance by over compensating after an accident or trying to fix a problem eg: back pain by strengthening another part of our body. How do we know how much to strengthen? Are we actually creating a muscle inbalance?

We Love to interfere don’t we!

In my experience people have a very strange idea of what good posture is. Obviously we don’t want to slouch. Take standing for example, are we TRYING to stand up straight? Are we using undue tension in doing so.

When questioned I find some of my clients are holding their tummies in, tucking their tail bones under, clenching their buttocks or even trying to pull their head and neck back because they think this is good posture. It may even look ok in the mirror but it takes a lot of effort and is tiring. They are in effect fixing themselves in a position and actually using the wrong muscles.

So how can I improve my balance?

Well your body works perfectly well all the time!

You cannot be serious I hear you cry.

If YOU are doing something like clenching your buttocks or tightening your legs, your neuromuscular system will recognise this and compensate by creating other tensions maybe in your back and neck.

It is useful to know that you are all joined up, every muscle in your body is connected to every other muscle, tendon or bone by connective tissue/ fascia. If your muscles were like a body suit and you tugged and twisted one part it would affect the whole.

So ask yourself as you stand there, am I DOING something to stand here? The answer is probably yes. Rather than trying to work out what it is and going round your body turning things off, choose to DO NOTHING. You will probably drift, wobble or sway a little and this can be a bit scary. Just keep your feet evenly spread on the floor. You are coming back into balance and UNDOING.

Many of us stand habitually either forward on our feet, back on our feet, on the insides or outsides and maybe more on one foot than the other. Which one are you? Can you even that out more or less?

Will I not fall over I hear you say?

Take a look at gravity – we all know gravity takes us down but there is an equal and opposite force that takes us up. It is gravity itself that keeps us up and we lengthen in response to it.

Check out Ground Reaction Force or Neutons 3rd law on Wikepedia.

Think of what happens to astronauts when they are in space without the force of gravity. They go into a foetal like position. When they come back to Earth they lengthen in response to gravity and if they have been away for a while they get a real sense of rushing under their feet. Yup the planet is pressing back at them supporting them. No need to hold on.

So what do toddlers, Fred Astaire and Federer have in common?

They trust their body knows how to balance, they let gravity do it’s job. They don’t try and work out what they need to do, hold on to or strengthen. They move as a whole.

I would also say they have a reliable body map. A toddler instinctively knows to bend from the hip joints , not their hips or waist as many adults do. Remember the waist is not a joint. A toddlers head is nicely poised/ suspended on top of their spine (roughly in line with your ear lobes), all nice and free.

Their awareness tends to be in the ‘here and now’. Be visually present . Just look at what happened to Tiger Woods’ golf game when he was distracted in his personal life. Sportsmen and women are known to have great peripheral vision so try being aware of what’s to the sides of you. Computers etc tend to suck us in.

Also note that eyes are an important part of balance. Try closing your eyes and walking across an empty room. Difficult eh! Even though you know there are no obstacles in your way.
In effect the toddler, Fred Astaire and Federer are DOING NOTHING whilst DOING SOMETHING.

In Alexander Technique we call this Inhibition. They are also in the moment. The toddler is exploring, Federer watching the ball, being in the game, Fred Astaire trusting his body, leaving it all alone.

So ask yourself the question as you stand, sit, walk or even play sport, am I DOING SOMETHING?

Choose to DO NOTHING, feel the tension release and be visually aware of your surroundings thinking out rather than in. YOUR BODY WANTS TO BALANCE SO LET IT!

Try an introductory session for yourself by booking online here

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