Body Sense

SPRING | 2016

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Page 8 of 15—your resource for all things bodywork 9 • Alexander Technique—As with the other movement therapies described above, the Alexander Technique sheds light on the areas within the body that are not moving effi ciently and, therefore, require more effort to engage in even the simplest movements in day- to-day life. Each individual is empowered through active participation, awareness, and mindfully chosen movement. The student is taught to sit, stand, and move in ways that reduce physical stress on the body. Alexander Technique teachers use gentle manual guidance and verbal cues to improve students' posture and movement patterns. A lesson or group class typically involves basic movements such as sitting, standing, walking, bending, reaching, carrying, and lying down. It may also involve more specialized activities such as playing a musical instrument, working at a computer, etc. The teacher's hands-on guidance stresses the adjustment of the head, neck, and torso relationship. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, YOUR BODY IS ALWAYS RESPONDING For every life experience you are involved in, your body has a response. As you read in the various descriptions, compensation patterns are not limited to physical injury, but are also developed from thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. Any time you experience something impactful, such as physical trauma or ongoing criticism, your body provides a deeper ingrained response. Even when you witness another's trauma, fear that it could happen to you can create a compensation pattern. The reason for this is protection. The sympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. the fi ght-or-fl ight mechanism) plays a crucial role in keeping you safe. You might hold your right shoulder up close to your ear and tuck your chin as if shrinking away from a threat. This pattern is as important to recognize as compensating one's gait around a painful broken ankle. It just might be a little more diffi cult to uncover the origin. Luckily, identifying the origin isn't necessary for you to heal the pattern. Engaging in movement therapies with a trained professional who knows how the body is designed to move will help you illuminate patterns you may not even realize you have. True freedom from pain and discomfort can be achieved using movement therapies incorporated with consistent massage sessions. The value and benefi ts of massage alone are far reaching, but this bodywork partnership is very benefi cial. As with anything you wish to master, your participation, dedication, and daily practice are required. Consider this an invitation to your freedom! B S Cindy Williams has served the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor since 2000. She enjoys the challenge of blending structure with creative fl ow to provide balance in her classroom, bodywork practice, and life. Resources Aston Patterning: Trager Approach: Feldenkrais Method: Alexander Technique: Bodywork Glossary (more than 300 modalities): Practitioners of these movement therapies can be found on each of the websites listed above, along with additional information on the approaches.

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