The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

RIGHT WAY/WRONG WAY: LATE SUMMER GLOBAL WARMING EDITION

Whew. Finally itʻs cooler outside, you want to breath some fresh air, do your part to combat global warming. Turn off your AC, roll your shirtsleeves up, and open the window!

EASIER SAID THAN DONE! Here in my Brooklyn rent-a-home, weʻve got some windows that open like a charm, and some that seem to weigh 100 lbs. Yes, there is a wrong way to open a window:

1) Brace your legs.

2) Grab the window and lift it by hiking your shoulders up towards your head.

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3) When that doesnʻt do anything, haul your head and shoulders back and down behind you while arching at the lower back. Viola, the window is open, and your back is in spasm.

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Now for the right way to open a window:

1) Donʻt make assumptions about how hard it may be, just touch your fingers to the bottom of the window pane.

2) Unbrace your legs

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3) Leave your head where it is, and get a good strong connection from your fingertips to the window by sending your elbows out and slightly down, not squeezing your armpits. This may actually send your head up a little instead of pulling it back and down.

4. Once you have a good strong connection with the window, release your head forwards and up towards the sky outside your window, your back away from the window and towards the wall behind you, and your knees forward towards the window wall. You will feel your feet spread as they give your arms something to push away from.

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5. Keep sending all your parts in opposing directions as you lower your whole body from the ankle, knee, and hip joint, and send your arms away from your back as you lift the window with EVERYTHING.

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Viola! Open window, stretched back.

Iʻd love to hear from you – is there anything you are struggling with that seems like it should be simple and easy enough – but every time you do it your grip your neck and shoulders and strain? Let me know and Iʻll try to find a solution!

August 12th, 2013 • 2 Comments

Shoulder Injury Solutions Workshop at AmSAT Yearly Meeting

I’ve been getting some very positive feedback from the participants in my recent Shoulder Injury Solutions workshop at the AmSAT Annual General Meeting. Here is a quote from one email I got this morning:

“I found your teaching to be truly fascinating and was inspired by your enthusiasm. Thanks also for speaking to me briefly about my arms and the difficulties I have encountered with them as a cellist…your insight was helpful. Images work well for me and thinking of my arms as wings makes total sense!”

It was really an honor and pleasure to work with Alexander Technique teachers in training, and long time professionals. Here are some pictures of a spine that we made out of our shoes – our goal was to get the curves of the spine to balance each other out in order to support the weight of our “head” – which was a chair. At first, our spine was kind of flat! But we worked together, looking always to feed the flow of the curves up towards the head, and eventually the movement started to flow easily through the whole room:

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Then, we lay on the floor in a “prone” position, allowing our arms to widen like wings so that the shoulder blades flowed easily across the backwards (or primary) curve of the thoracic section of our spine. The Alexander “lingo” for this supportive relationship of arms to torso is “lengthening the torso” and “widening the arms” in relationship to the torso. It’s an expansive movement that happens reflexively when you give up shortening and narrowing yourself. With the support of the floor, it is very easy to observe and let go of “narrowing” tension and generate movement without crunching the very delicate shoulder joint.

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I’m especially grateful for the support of the American Society for the Alexander Technique, which is dedicated to supporting the training of new teachers and the education of the general public about the benefits of this amazing work.

July 10th, 2013 • No Comments

CLARE MAXWELL: SHOULDER INJURY SOLUTIONS WORKSHOP IN CHICAGO

I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing some of my work with colleagues at a national conference next weekend! If you are in Chicago, there will be a forum open to the general public on Alexander Technique and integrative medicine. Iʻll post a link to that soon. Meantime, here is the info on my workshop for Alexander Technique teachers and students:

American Society for the Alexander Technique National Conference, Chicago IL

June 26 – 30, 2013

CLARE MAXWELL WORKSHOP

Prone as a Procedure: Micro-spiraling to lengthen and widen from the ground into standing

Thursday 1:30 – 4:30

Saturday 9 – 12

Description

This workshop will be about the benefits of working in a prone, or face down relationship to the floor. For me, prone is one of the major innovations of the Dart Process work initiated by Joan and Alex Murray. Many people avoid this position because our noses and necks can get crunched, so Iʻve invented a support that I call The Launching Pad that Iʻve found to be incredibly helpful in alleviating those discomforts. Iʻll share some of the simple, playful practices that Iʻve discovered through the process of healing my own related shoulder and hip injuries. You will learn ways to use prone as a support for widening your own back, ways to access your natural rotational freedom within the AT frame work of inhibition, awareness, and direction, and ways to just have fun and improvise with the natural spiraling movements that support us as we rise to standing or release back into the support of gravity. I use prone to begin and end my teaching day often, and I also use it as a possible alternative to supine constructive rest for many of my students.

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June 21st, 2013 • 2 Comments