Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique for covid long haulers, Alexander Technique teacher, covid long hauler, long covid.

Long Covid, Rest, and the Alexander Technique: lie down ideas for covid long haulers

Now that I am coming back a little bit into my life as I knew it before covid I can write about all my experiences and share them. Now I can play flute almost every day after not being able to do so for a very long time. Playing music is what I choose to do with this newly found “extra” energy. Some days I do still really crash out so that I can’t play. However, I have made big progress on the ME/CFS with PEM (chronic fatigue with crashes) front. None the less, it is a roller coaster thing. I never know when I will have a big crash out.

Here is a great and short description of ME/CFS with PEM aka chronic fatigue with crashes. This is something I’ve been experiencing for over three years now. I’ve always had this condition but covid exploded it. “Exacerbated it” is too mild a term. I do think that this has been the hardest to bear of my all my conditions messed up by covid.

As I wrote in my previous post, January 18, 2023 was my magic day. That day I realized I suddenly had more energy to do something else after work rather than to go to bed. This didn’t spontaneously happen. I do think that one of the off-label drugs I had been taking for a year finally kicked in. So I got out a flute and started playing. I continue to play. This makes me insanely happy! It’s so great to be able to be happy and feel contentment while being so compromised.

Needless to say, pacing oneself is key. One must be attuned to one’s body. Alexander Technique assists with learning how to pace!

So to recap, every time I did something, like walk Eloise, change Cletis Milou’s litter box, change my sheets, see a doctor whether in person or online, after work, after writing, after the rare occasion when I tried to socialize, after any Zoom session, etcetera, I would then have to deep rest, in bed, to recover. I wish I could describe the quality of this fatigue but I just cannot. I still cannot do things people take for granted. Oh, and before I was able to go back to work, at times I was bed bound/ house bound because of crashes. And these crashes can last a long time.

What if you are so impacted by ME/CFS with PEM that you are in bed a lot? Why, you should do an Alexander Technique active resting technique. I am proposing some modifications for long haulers, ME/CFS sufferers, and all who suffer from debilitating chronic conditions.

There are various names for this: constructive rest, active rest, semi-supine, Alexander Technique lie down. I’m going to use the term active rest here as this term resonates the most to me when applied to the long hauler community.

Check out Alexander Technique Constructive Rest on Robert Rickover’s The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique for a thorough discussion of this important practice. Notice that the photos and illustrations show folks lying down on a mat on the floor or on a table with their knees up. 

Well, what if one cannot do that? This is when some modifications are in order. Some of us long haulers cannot get down onto the floor nor have massage tables. Some of us are bed bound. I do active rest on my bed or couch. Mostly in bed. Of course it helps if the surface is firmer. I happen to have a firm mattress. Instead of elevating my knees like in the photos I  put pillows under my knees. Instead of putting books under my head on a table I use a thin pillow. I cross my hands over my abdomen.

Try doing an active rest like this, if you are able to do so,  and try to keep this position for 10 minutes or so.

Think about your knees going up, up, up…to the ceiling above you. Think about lengthening your spine and having your head go back to the wall behind you. Keep your eyes open so that you can remain aware and present. You must be present! Remember, this is active rest. What should you think about when doing a long hauler Alex Tech active rest? Think about your body making contact with the surface you are on, let’s say the bed. Release your shoulders back into bed. In fact, relax your whole body, part by part, into the bed and make note of how that feels. Keep those eyes opened! This makes you aware and awareness is key here. Mentally scan your body. Notice every part of your body. Where is there pain? Pretty weird thought for a long hauler because often every fiber of your body hurts. A lot. None the less, scan your body. Think about releasing every bit of pain you are experiencing. Think of sending healing vibes to all the parts that hurt. Mega-tons of healing vibes. Maybe think about each organ in your body one by one. Give thanks to that particular organ because it is working! It might not be perfectly working but it’s working. Concentrate on that organ and its function(s.) “Hi heart! How’re you doing? So happy you are beating even if it is not regular. Hiya kidneys! So glad you are functioning properly and that I can fais pipi! Hey stomach! I know you are experiencing mega-problems but please be aware that I am trying to figure out the cause for this weirdness.” You get the drift. Address your particular issues. Remember, being alive and  kicking is the important thing. It is of paramount importance to try to live. Your working organs are helping you to live. Leave the anger behind. This will only bother you and make you worse. Such a waste of your precious energy!

I’m going to add breath awareness in general in another post. But meanwhile, notice your breathing when doing active rest. What’s happening? What’s moving? Notice how you inhale and exhale, and how your ribs are moving in the front and back of you. Can you feel your diaphragm? If not, imagine that you can. Practice this. Are you experiencing chest heaviness or pain? Are you having problems breathing? Are you coughing a lot? Think about what’s going on with your lungs. Remember mind and body are one entity. Just thinking about ameliorating a physical situation might actually help. 

Yiddish proverb: « Better ten times ill than one time dead. » Remember, the alternative is not better. Be grateful for your blessings. This will get you through the very rough times. And remember, other people have it worse than you do! And they keep on trucking. Long covid is like ten times ill all at once…or more than ten times ill. So, remember your blessings when doing active rest. One by one…go over the catalogue of them. 

An active rest is great to do right when you get up in the morning when the pain is the worst. I also do them in the afternoon, especially after any exertion. So do an active rest when you finish anything that is causing exertion and can might cause you to crash. This of course can be any physical activity, any mental activity, any social encounter. If you are bed bound, try doing an active rest right where you are. Perhaps it will help you! They can be rejuvenating. They often give me some extra boost of energy. They are de-stressers.

And here’s something radical…I also practice constructive rest with my eyes closed when I turn the lights out to go to sleep. I start going over the mental catalogue of my body and I never finish before I am out like a light. This is not at all Alexander Technique active rest. It starts out that way. Hopefully it ends in sleep. Notice the difference when keeping your eyes closed! In the beginning of my long covid journey I had terrible insomnia and could never fall asleep. I have found that this is one of the things that helped me. I do have a bunch of various sleep aids. Maybe this one will help you.

Murray the rag doll

Murray is an old guy and in lots of pain. Murray is in the correct position to do an Alexander Technique active rest for long haulers in bed. He has a thin pillow under his head and one under his knees. Notice his arms are crossed over his abdomen. Murray is pretty mushy but he does hang in there.

Here’s a fine article on what it feels like to have long covid.

Don’t you wish you could just take a nap whenever you wanted to? When my insomnia was at its worst I could not nap at all. I cannot nap even though my sleep is never refreshing. Well, I was never a napper anyway. Even when totally exhausted. Look at this snooze fest:

Napping at local shop UpperWestSkates: Cookie the dog, under Cookie is Christopher, Kennedy the dog, and Harmony

All children of Chris Vidal, owner and chief cook and bottle washer of UpperWestSkates

Chris offered to teach me how to skateboard! Alas, I have no balance right now. I sold my bike. I can’t dance. So I’ll skateboard in my dreams. Meanwhile, Eloise and I go to UpperWestSkates to schmooze and hangout. All kinds of fascinating people drop into the shop. And I check out Chris’ latest art and photo additions. In fact, the shop is a work of art. And I peruse all the boards, apparel and sneakers. Eloise gets treats. If the timing is right…it might even be rotisserie chicken! Hanging out at UpperWestSkates makes me feel better, no matter what’s going on with me. I feel “almost normal” whatever that means. I’m very grateful for various places like Chris’ in my neighborhood! Mom and Pop places. They are the best! Homes away from home. Kind of like variations of real French cafés in my little neighborhood. Well, I guess I’m going off-topic here. I think this is a topic for a separate blog post! if you are able, and live in an urban area, and you have cozy hang out joints, take a little walk around the corner, while paying close attention to your use of course, and go hang out for a bit. Then go home and do an active rest!

Whatever the scenario, if you are a long hauler, please add Alexander Technique active rest to your “striving to get better” regime. And for everyone else, you add this wonderful technique to your life too!

Stay tuned for more posts on how Alexander Technique can help long haulers! There is so much to share!

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique teacher, covid long hauler, covid long hauler, long covid, Uncategorized.

This is the first, introductory blog post of a planned series. I now have the energy to write this!!! Physical and mental energy!!! What a miracle!!! I think only long haulers, and people with other similar chronic conditions can understand what this means. What I would like to accomplish with this series is to explain to all the ramifications of living with long covid, and to illustrate how the Alexander Technique can assist with managing this chronic condition.

“One of the biggest surprises of Long COVID is that many people went from the height of productive careers and active lifestyles to being disabled almost overnight. Dreams have been dashed by this disease, and lives have been altered. In their introduction, Fiona Lowenstein sums up the reality of this disease: ‘I am not the person I was before I developed Long COVID, and I doubt I will ever feel I’ve returned to the former self, even if all my remaining health issues someday evaporate.’ Countless other Long COVID  survivors feel this way.” Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, as quoted in The Long Covid Survival Guide edited by Fiona Lowenstein.

For the sake of expediency I am using this spelling: long covid.

Personally, now that I have made some progress in recovery, I can write about my long covid journey. My turning point date, my magical date, was January 18, 2023. 🎉🍾🎶 I got home that day from my part-time job and I realized that I didn’t have to go immediately to bed. I actually had the energy to do more. I got out a flute and started practicing. I figured if I could keep this up daily something would have shifted for me. It did. It shifted. A light switch turned on. It had been two years since I could play flute everyday. I couldn’t even listen to music! I feel like a sort of phoenix, but instead of rising from ashes to a new life, I am rising from severe and debilitating long covid. I’m in the process of recovering my old pre-covid life. But I doubt I will fully recover. I’m getting used to my new reality.

Covid. In December of 2019 I got sick with an illness which baffled me. I was sick for at least 3 weeks. I remember having a high fever for a bunch of days, I was beyond exhausted, and I had a dry cough that would not go away for a very long time. I was freezing all the time, more freezing than usual.

I had no clue that this could have been the Corona virus because “it was not yet in NYC.” I have since found out differently.

Then in February “the first case” was announced in NYC. Then lockdown happened in March of 2020.

In April I was still feeling rotten. I have other serious, inherited autoimmune conditions, but the pain, crazy debilitating fatigue, migraines, weakness, insomnia and circadian rhythm disorder, brain fog, etc. I was experiencing were on a different level. My long-time doc tested me for everything including covid antibodies and, sure enough, my antibody number was high. I was diagnosed then with post-acute sequelae of Covid-19 aka long covid. The antibody test was repeated; same results. Needless to say I was stunned. My doc had me contact the NYU Langone Post Covid Care Center. The parade of doc visits, tests and medications started.

Long covid waxes and wanes and transforms. It’s a chronic condition. Anyone can get long covid, no matter what physical condition, what age. You can get long covid!  And let me tell you, managing long covid is a full-time job.

And so my long covid journey began. I was officially a first-wave covid long hauler as of April, 2020. There is no cure yet. All one can hope for is to find an empathetic medical team who believes you instead of gaslighting you. Docs who have particular specialties and who are able to say: “I don’t know.” “Let’s try.” “Let’s find out together.” And you need those docs to have the savvy and courage to arrange the medication mega-cocktail that might bring relief to some symptoms.

I am grateful that I got a diagnosis early on. I am certainly grateful that I didn’t have to be hospitalized, intubated, etc. I am grateful that I did not die like some I know. I count my blessings all the time. I have always been an optimist. I’m used to overcoming health issues. I’m used to ploughing through. However, long covid is something else as it exacerbated many of my previous conditions, known and unknown.

Well we all know what lockdown was like. Fear. Isolation. Life for me was restricted to my immediate neighborhood. Solitude. Walking Eloise, my first dog ever, in Riverside Park; walking to the farmers’ market up by Columbia University, going to the hardware store up there because they had everything. I started photographing my neighborhood during lockdown. I could do that stuff for awhile, and then I could not. Then I could barely move. It was Plan B time. Eloise started having shorter and shorter walks. I came to love food delivery services. Cletis Milou the cat, Eloise and I would just hang out…all of us reclining or lying down in bed.

I had to pause teaching the Alexander Technique. Even remotely. I could not work at all at anything.I had to drastically scale down all activities and socializing. My life as I knew it came to a hard stop.

Then, in April, 2021, I was recovered enough to start back at my job (in tech) super part-time. Work, go home and go to bed. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. That was my life. Until January 18th. Now I find “my day job” to be more manageable. Now I’m starting up teaching Alexander Technique again. I’m playing music. I’m writing. I’m the only Alexander Technique teacher I know of who is a first-waver long hauler. I guess that makes me a de facto expert on this subject. I certainly hope to guide fellow long haulers with my personal expertise of the Alexander Technique and my perspective on being a long hauler. “Been there done that” gives me a certain understanding.

I am extremely lucky as I have amazing support. This is so important for a “solo rider.” I am a privileged person. I work for a company that really cares and supports…the organization plus the particular people I work with on an everyday basis. My company provides me with excellent health insurance! Don’t get me started on what it might be to go through this without health insurance! Plus I have wonderful friends and family, who, even if far away, help me tremendously on an emotional level. I have angel-friends near-by who help me do things I cannot manage now. I have found my small band of caring medical practitioners.

One huge thing that has helped me throughout this journey is the Alexander Technique. I am so grateful for my training and my teaching knowledge. The Alex Tech provides one with a knowledge of how your body and mind work.

These are the aspects of Alex Tech that I practice all the time and that helped me get through rough times:

1. Constructive rest. Deep rest and pacing oneself are of paramount importance in recovering from long covid, chronic fatigue and other similar conditions 

2. Awareness of breath and the physiology of breathing, and breathing exercises such as whispered ah

3. Being aware of one’s use at all times. And of stopping and pausing oneself when being aware of doing something in poor use so one can reset and start again with better use. The Alex Tech jargon for this is “inhibit and direct.”

The important thing for me here is to convey to you the surreal quality of going through long covid. The loneliness. The disbelief of others. “Well you look fine.” And how the Alexander Technique can help manage this chronic illness crisis.I feel as though my real self had been hijacked for the longest time. I am just emerging out of this morass. Kind of like coming out of a twilight zone. Makes me think I have been possessed by a modern day dybbuk. Is the dybbuk finally saying au revoir?


A recent sunrise, seen while walking Eloise. A moment that brought me much joy.

“Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life.”

“Tâchez de garder toujours un morceau de ciel au-dessus de votre vie.” 

Marcel Proust

one morning while walking Eloise I saw this sunrise

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, Uncategorized.

It’s now more than a year of covid time.  Hopefully now we are taking baby steps toward “normalcy.” I don’t know about you but I’m definitely feeling nebulous. Out of focus. Unmotivated. Covid-time blues? I’m procrastinating big time. I meant to write this post last fall when it all was happening and fresh in my mind…but I did not. So here goes…

In the fall I was working from home, online. I went through a period of time where I had to be on the computer concentrating on training, 9-10 hours a day for over a week. I remember dreading this as I knew very well that my setup was a potentially harmful one. My desk was too high for the desktop computer I had to use sitting down. But not high enough so that I could stand. I could not get comfortable. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I knew well the pitfalls of sitting at a desk for a long time with bad use. I had experienced severe lower back pain the one time I had a job where I had to sit in front of a computer all day. Before that, and since that time, I have been mostly on my feet walking around a lot when working. When I had that desk job, I did have an “ergonomic” chair but passive sitting, without engaging the body, with having the chair doing the work for me, did me in. I knew I was sitting incorrectly but at that time I did not know how to correct it. When I started taking Alexander Technique lessons, I realized after awhile that my back pain evaporated.

So here I was again with severe back pain. I tried hard accommodate this very bad situation. I propped myself up with pillows; I stood and moved around as much as I could. I just could not get comfortable. I got in trouble. My neck started hurting while staring at the screen. I wound up pinching my sciatic nerve. And then, to make matters worse, the elevator was out in my building and I had to walk down flights of steps. I was walking down so weirdly with my sciatic pain that I managed to pull some leg muscles on the way down. Total disaster. Luckily for me, physical therapy helped get me right again.

I knew that I had to improve my work station setup as soon as I could. It was an emergency situation. So I did. Au revoir old desk. Hello adjustable sit-stand desk! My old straight backed chair was banished from my new desk. I started using an active sitting chair, namely the Ariel, one of Dr. Turner Osler’s adjustable chairs without a back. As soon as I sat in this chair, I felt my spine lengthening! I found, after a beginning adjustment period, that I could be sitting, using this chair, at my new desk, for a very long time with excellent use. In the chair, I am constantly adjusting myself. However, now, I am not conscious of doing so. And of course, at times during the day, I adjust the desk so that I can stand and walk around as I work. My particular desk is an Uplift, and has 4 preset heights so with a press of a button the desk adjusts. You can look up that and various other possibilities and brands of adjustable desks online. My new desk and chair really saved me from lots of grief. This new set up still has me sighing in relief. I intend to demonstrate them both when teaching in-person lessons.

You can learn about Dr. Osler and his company’s chairs here:

Please check out this great YouTube by my colleague Tami Bulmash, as she interviews Dr. Osler.It’s entitled “Could changing your chair add years to your life?” This is such an informative interview!

Please also check out this wonderful interview of Dr. Osler by my colleague Robert Rickover. Robert talks about the benefits of the active chair versus sitting in a stool, perhaps the next best thing, and how he really notices the difference between them when he gets up from them. He feels much more “up” after getting out of the Ariel chair. Dr. Osler explains that sitting in an active chair is like walking while sitting. (No wonder I feel so good when using my chair)! They both discuss the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” and the various types of sitting.

I am so grateful to Robert, Tami and Dr. Osler for these excellent videos!

My current setup, photobombed by Eloise:


Here in NYC, the warm weather is teasing us. My window box perennial plants are beginning to grow. Thankfully we are again on Daylight Savings Time. I am looking forward to once again offering in person, hands-on Alexander Technique lessons…along with all doing the other things I have missed doing, and seeing in person all the people I have missed so much!

Sage and chives are growing again in my little garden!

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My home studio has a new assistant. Her title is Assistant Manager in Charge of Mischief. Studio Manager Cletis Milou the cat tolerates her, which is a whole lot better than his previous hissing and lashing out at her.

Eloise, Assistant Manager in Charge of Mischief

Eloise, the dog, loves depositing her toys in Cletis Milou’s catnip covered bed. She loves stealing my glasses and stashing them in her crate. She is supposed to be crate trained and house trained. Crate trained affirmative; house trained…well, she thinks everything outside of her crate is “outside” so we are working on what exactly constitutes “outside.” At least “outside” does not include the catnip covered cat bed. And so it happened that I caught her in the act of relieving herself on the rug one time recently. I duly scolded “no no no” and escorted her outside immediately like I’m supposed to in these lapses. So I didn’t have a camera or even my phone with me.

As it turned out, Eloise cooperated and did more pipi outside right away. Hopefully her faulty habit will be replaced by a new, healthier habit in due time. I lavished her with praise and took a walk around with her. I guess I was supposed to take her right home but I didn’t. I walked with her into a lovely little park near me, Straus Park, where, to my surprise, was a small demonstration of people up in age. I would say the majority of the protestors were in their 80’s, maybe 90’s. One was using a walker. Another a cane. They held up protest signs in solidarity with all the demonstrators. They were wearing masks and were socially distancing. Obviously they were too at risk, in this Covid-19 moment, to join one of the major protests in the city.  They were all carrying  placards decrying the murder of George Floyd. Et al. I thanked them profusely. I’m sorry I could not take photos. What a missed opportunity! 1968 all over again! I’m sure they were actively protesting back then. Way to go!

I so wished I could have offered them all hands-on Alexander Technique 10-minute turns! I should have talked with them more but they were intent on their protest. And I was stressed out by Eloise’s accident.

Straus Park

These days I’m walking Eloise earlier than normal due to NYC’s 8pm curfew. And so, dear readers, I came upon them again! The protesters were fewer and younger…no walkers or canes this time around. However they are certainly in the at risk group. I got a chance to talk with them, especially with the organizer, and I took a few photos. They asked me to share the photos. They told me they started protesting last week and that they were there everyday. And they plan to continue indefinitely. They invited me to join them. I certainly shall! I’ll bring Eloise along with me. I was correct: they all actively and vigorously protested in the 1960’s and beyond. I asked them if they thought if this time around, because of this awful pandemic, that things would finally change. They said they thought so. I hope so!


What does all this have to do with the Alexander Technique? Admittedly not much. If you can think of something really relatable, please let me know.

P.S. Eloise would like you to know, for when hands-on Alexander Technique lessons can again be possible, that she is hypo-allergenic. And she is shy. Ditto on both fronts for Cletis Milou the cat.

Monsieur's fave place when not eating

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Teacher Training.

This Covid-19 pandemic world is quite something, isn’t it? I keep losing track of time…wow it’s almost June already. Our current reality is totally surreal. Stress city right? Just when I think I am starting to cope really well, I remember my wild anxiety dreams. These happen nightly. Are you stressed out or anxious? It might be a great moment for an online Alexander Technique distance session!

Well, well, well…for now no hands on…only virtual hands on. No more in person lessons for the moment. Only online sessions via Zoom or FaceTime. I’m so grateful to be able to offer online single classes! I even have one group class going. I’m having a total blast doing these. I just love teaching by noticing. With my eyes, not my hands. There is one hilarious downside to teaching online. Cletis Milou, divo cat and studio manager, gets jealous when I “talk” to the computer or iPad or iPhone. Not only does he feel that am I here to feed him on demand, but I am here to give him undivided attention. Below is Monsieur’s fave place when not eating. I think he speaks for a lot of us right now.

Monsieur's fave place when not eatingMonsieur’s fave place right now

However, he will come out and meow at me (Siamese cat meows are more like screams or baby cries to be precise) if I am talking to one of my devices on an online conference. I am trying my best not to be like Milou. As much as I want to hide under the covers, I try to go about my days as best and as normally as possible…of course while taking all precautions…wearing a mask, wearing gloves if necessary, always washing my hands… You know the drill.

Back to online teaching…it amazes me what I can pick up visually about a student’s use. For sure this experience of distance teaching is refining my verbal communication skills in this regard.

Here is an image of me guiding a long-time student in hands on back of chair via Zoom:

building a student doing hands on back of chairPracticing hands on back of chair

My student has great use and she particularly loves doing hands on back of chair. As we say in French, ça se voit, non? That’s pretty clear, right? Not too clear in this small photo is the image of me, at the top of the screen, guiding her online.

To wrap this blog post up, please enjoy this old tune, version here by the Cadillacs. I think the tune lyrics actually went Zing…but here is Zoom:


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Phew. It’s been a long time since my last blog post. And here we are, in Covid-19 world, with our lives, as we knew them, totally on hold and disrupted. I am sure all of us are touched by the tragedy of this awful pandemic, having loved ones, friends, colleagues, who have been ill or who have tragically passed away. We are now shuttered away at home (if we are lucky to have a home!!!) and some people are truly isolated. Well, you know all this. I send my most heartfelt greetings to you all! We must believe that this too shall pass. And we will welcome back the lives we knew before this. And hopefully the world will be a better place for all.

Now in this time, of course, practicing the principles of the Alexander Technique, is of prime importance.I am so grateful that I have these skills to help me stay healthy in body and mind. Ironically, there is no teaching at the moment, in the traditional hands-on way. However, the Alex Tech community is adapting. I have never taught distance learning lessons before this moment, though some of my colleagues have been doing so for years. Their great success has fascinated me. By necessity, I find myself teaching via Zoom and FaceTime, both individual lessons and group classes. I am loving doing so!

Studio manager Cletis Milou, assists me with a lie down

By the way, I am not responsible for the name Cletis. This guy was named Cletis II at birth, even though he was never called by name. He was called Fatty. Eating is his thing. I figured he should keep his real name when I rescued him. I just tagged Milou onto it. I know, I know, it’s a weird name. But now he knows it.

I digress. But as you see, I am hunkering down at home. I would love to give you a distance lesson! So hit me up if you are interested. Meanwhile, please take care and stay safe!

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On a recent winter night, as I was looking out of a window, I saw a scene that I wanted to take a photo of. But I was reflected in the window, as was the scene behind me. As I had no polarizing filter with me to remove the reflections I decided to take the photo of my reflected self. I was pleased with the results…except for one major thing. As soon as I saw the developed photo (it was taken with film), I saw that when taking it, I was not paying attention to my use. The photo shows me that I was hunched over the camera and I was shortening my spine. I was totally focused on the visual scene in front of me. Most likely, my use is not visible to anyone else looking at the photo. But I know myself. I know full well what I’m doing. I didn’t like what I saw, but I prefer not to dwell on the negative. Instead I want to use my reflection as a teaching reflection. The photo shows me that my long-lived habits are hard to break.

Over the years, what with taking Alexander Technique lessons, and training to be an Alexander Technique teacher, and teaching others, I am getting proficient about noticing and correcting my not-so-hot habits as I go about my day…when walking, when talking, when playing flute, when at a computer, when teaching, when dealing with the public, etcetera, etcetera. However, when I photograph, trying to capture a moment, my Alexander Technique chops often seem to evaporate.

The Alexander Technique teaches us how to be aware more often. My goal these days, as prompted by viewing my photo, is to really start paying attention to myself, and being aware of my body, as I am photographing. I will try my best to bring my camera up to me and not my body down to it, just as I do with my flute, and I will see what happens. By the way, I have taken photos of my reflected self often enough when my use is pretty good.

Come to think about it, I am realizing that I haven’t heard much about linking photography with the Alexander Technique. Hmmm…For the record, the photo was taken with my Leica M6, 35mm Summicron lens, and Kodak Portra 800 film.

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I recently came across this photo I took in the subway back in April. I remember being so struck at the scene of people waiting that I snapped a photo right before my train pulled into the station. Everyone was staring at their phones. Most of those folks were in variations of misuse as they bent toward their little screens. I was fascinated.

March, 2018

It used to be, in the pre-cell phone days, that when on the subway, riders would be reading newspapers. However, in this image, people were pulling down too, despite the larger size of the newspapers. I guess it is human nature to crane and move our heads toward objects rather than moving the objects to us.

Subway Riders in New York City, aka Evening News, F. Luis Mora, 1913, Wikimedia Commons

I suspect that the folks on the platform were totally unaware of their use or the implications thereof. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Who needs some Alexander Technique lessons? We all do! Especially those of us who might be having neck pain. We all have lapses in consciousness, true. But being more aware more of the time is a great thing! Just saying. 

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Teacher Training, hip dysplasia.

I know, I know…it’s been a long time…but lots of strange and difficult stuff has been happening in my life…and it all has been very stress inducing. And then to add to the stress…the election happened. Please see Alexander Technique teacher Mark Josefsberg’s excellent blog post on the Alexander Technique and the election here. The combination of  dealing with challenges in my personal life, and then being slammed by the election had me reeling.

Another autumn of my peripatetic Alexander Technique teacher training journey has ended. Another autumn for me these years seems to bring another fresh new medical emergency. This time I had big fight with a door frame. I lost. I dislocated and fractured my little right toe. It is so mind blowing how a fracture in such a tiny bone can wreak such havoc. This accident forced me to stop. No work nor training for awhile…then slowly I started up again…while still wearing a surgical shoe and taping my fourth and fifth toes together. My punishment: having to wear an ugly shoe. Now I’m back in some right shoes again. Phew. But still healing. I guess when I’m able to wear heels to dance some tango I’ll consider myself all better.

Let me tell you, wearing one surgical shoe and one regular shoe for ten weeks does mess you up. However I did find that I was really paying assiduous attention to my use as I was walking. So that was a plus. And now, on the advice of my podiatrist, I wear clogs in the house.

While in the middle of the broken toe recuperation something stunning happened to me in training. I have written before about being born with severe, genetic hip dysplasia. My trainer had a felicitous brainstorm: one day in class she tied a sash tightly right above the crease of my hips, making me an improvised sacroiliac belt. The backstory of this occurrence is that one of my co-trainees uses such a belt but for different reasons. My co-trainee has EDS…Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome…and this is one of the devices she uses to assist her. My trainer put two and two together, et voilà…my life changed.

With the makeshift belt on, Instantly my whole body changed. The stability of my hips allowed my neck to lengthen.  And my arms and shoulders released. I had more stability. I had more rotation in my hips when I walked. I had better balance. I had a midline. After that class I went home and ordered a real sacroiliac belt.

I wear the belt often. It provides me with a stability that I have never had ever before. And I find that when I don’t or can’t wear it, I innately mimic the use I have with it. So it is not a necessary crutch. Who would ever think that such a seemingly simple device would have such major ramifications?

Wearing the sacroiliac belt has been a great learning-about-my-body tool for me. I guess my hips have never been well in the sockets. The belt kind of mimics the big black brace I had to wear for the first two years plus of my life. It nudges my hips back in place. I’m now aware of my body in ways that I never had been. When I first started wearing it I felt that I was in proprioception overload. I wish I could describe better just how utterly important this all is for me!

So in this penultimate phase of my seemingly never-ending teacher training I experienced a great high while dealing with many lows. It’s January of 2017 and I was supposed to have certified by now. Does every trainee have a drama laden journey? Or just some of us trainees? Well…whatever…it is what it is. Here’s a quote that I came across recently: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” E.M. Forster. Great advice on every front, right? One must role with the punches. Dealing with ambiguity here…


Low light selfie with sacroiliac belt...

Modeling the sacroiliac belt…

Posted by & filed under Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Teacher Training.

I’ve been having important lessons recently with my Alexander Technique teacher trainer Ann Rodiger, founder and director of the Balance Arts Center. The essence of the lessons: Ann is working with me so that I am able to release, lengthen and widen way up at the top of my spine. I am doing so as I have never been able to before.

You might remember that I came to the Technique because of the consequences of a genetic problem: a severe stenosis of my cervical spine. I underwent an involved neurosurgery called a laminoplasty to correct it. My spinal column is now being kept open with titanium rods and clips so that my spinal cord can never be crushed again. Danger of paralysis was averted. Cervical 3-7 had to be fused. The surgery was totally successful but of course I had a lengthy recovery period, and I was left in severe pain. Physical therapy did not relieve it. After 2 1/2 years of this pain I finally tried Alexander Technique lessons. The pain disappeared after a month or so of lessons.

And so, I wanted more and more lessons. I subsequently decided that I should train to become an Alexander Technique teacher. I am now well into my third year of training.

With the fusion comes no movement. However I do have movement above and below the fusion. In these lessons, we are working on getting me to release more consistently above cervical 3. And I am doing so like I’ve never been able to. One time, on the table, I had a visceral vision of my spine, my brain, my head. I felt like I could see inside my skull in a 3D kind of way. I found I was breathing higher up and lower down. My shoulders released along with the top of my spine. It was all so mysterious. Maybe it’s so intense for me since the rest of my cervical spine is fixed.

Recently I went to MoMA to see the exhibition Edgar Degas: A  Strange New Beauty. This title is taken from a description of Degas’ work by Mallarmé. I was remembering the “inside my head” feelings as my friend and I walked around. There was a photo taken by Degas of Mallarmé. I stood before it, transfixed. I started thinking about the hermeticism of Mallarmé’s poetry. I recently read an article in The New Yorker by Alex Ross on the difficulties of translating Mallarmé. The article is entitled Encrypted. Ross writes about reading Mallarmé: “After only one or two lines, though, you are engulfed in a fine mist, and a certain terror sets in.”

I thought…this is how I am currently feeling about my Alex Tech teacher training journey. I am engulfed in a fine mist as I undertake to make this new releasing my new habit. This all seems elusive…but it is becoming more reliable. I feel like I am accessing the encryption to my own use more and more often. Was I walking around the museum that day with much improved use of self than a few years ago? I think so. And I don’t think a certain terror has set in. That terror came in my neurosurgeon’s office when I was told my cervical spine had to be fused. And that terror is long gone.

Here’s another citation from The New Yorker article…about the difficulties of reading Mallarmé’s poetry: “…many readers have concluded that the effort is not worth it. For others, though, the difficulty of the path is justified by the unearthly beauty that hovers in the distance.” I cannot think of a better description of my Alexander Technique teacher training journey.

At the BAC, I take a pic of Bernie the skeleton's cervical spine...At the BAC, I take a pic of Bernie the skeleton’s cervical spine…