Spring is sort of showing up here in NYC. Our week long break is over…I am now ensconced back in my Alexander Technique teacher training. Three months have gone by since we have started. I guess I have finished the equivalent of two semesters of training. Rumor has it that I am progressing along quite nicely! I am thrilled that my sensory appreciation is improving. This new awareness feels great!
In the hands on part of the class…well…we are putting hands on and following a person going up from and down into a chair. The emphasis is, at this time, of course, on our own use of self, but have to say, that it feels kind of neat to be at least following a real body. We are a tiny group, and in fact, the other day it so happened that I had the luxury of a class all by myself! So…hands on back of chair, hands on table, hands on two sides of a door. Then…hands on Tom, my trainer, as he moves around in the chair and gets up from the chair and goes down into the chair. Lots of times. I have one hand on his chest; one hand on his upper back. I follow him. Over and over again. It’s so intense. He talks me through all this…he prompts me with suggestions on how to direct. I over-concentrate and so I grip. He suggests that I concentrate less hard. Things improve. It’s difficult for me to free up my arms, elbows, legs, when he prompts me to, so I think about my primary control, and this undoes the gripping. I think to lengthen and widen my spine…at his prompting. I try to connect my hands to my feet. I try to undo the rest of me. My hands placed on him talk to each other through him, and this contact reminds me to lengthen and widen. I should not pull him down as he gets up and down from the chair. And I should not let my hands slip. He demonstrated on me what pulling-down hands feel like, and what hands-pulling-him-over-to-me feel like. He tells me to soften my hands when I am pulling him down. Presto! No pulling him down!
We are now doing lots of breathing activities. I lie on the table, or sit in a chair, or stand up, and the others put hands on my abdomen to feel the differences among: normal breathing, exhaling on a silent “l” sound, exhaling on an “f” sound, exhaling while counting one to ten over and over–breath permitting–without pushing, exhaling with whispered ah. Then I put hands on while another does the same breathing examples. As a flutist, I am kind of obsessed with various ways to exhale while voicing various sounds. I regularly tongue using the labiodental fricative “f” sound for example. And a “la” or a French “lu” sound or a tu ru combination… So the Alexander Technique and flute technique are colliding right now to my infinite pleasure and amusement. Keith, my flute guru says “flute playing IS Alexander Technique!” Love this! Translation: good use of self sure helps to play well! I have been noticing for awhile that sometimes I hold in between an inhalation and an exhalation. Not good. The other way around, a pause after an exhalation, while playing flute, is actually helpful for playing.
After the class for one, while I was walking to the subway, I noticed, to my surprise, a rack of citi bikes right there on 38th Street! Imagine that! I did a double take! Winter…see you later! Time to think about taking my bike off its trainer!