I want to share with you an Alexander Technique trap. I’ve been watching a procession of my students falling into it; enough to make me realise how common it is.
You could call this trap the ‘Full Stretch’ trap. Or maybe ‘The Last Little Bit’ trap, because that’s when it happens – when you are coming to the furthest extent of a particular movement. It could be reaching up, reaching forward, or twisting. Doesn’t really matter, the trap is still there waiting for the unwary.
It works like this…
At the start of the movement all goes easily. The student’s Alexander thinking is good, their movement is good. Then they reach a point where it stops being easy; but they still need to go further.
It requires more effort.
So they put in more effort. The student is happy because they know that they have put in more effort. They assume this has had the required effect. Snap. Trap closed.
The trouble is, they have put in the effort somewhere else. That somewhere else is easy, but it did not get the job done. It added more muscular effort and distortion to no good purpose. Worse, it bamboozled the student into thinking they are achieving what they wanted.
• The short student who wants to get something down from the top of a cupboard. Their arm doesn’t quite reach, so they do the last little bit by sticking their chin forward really hard.
• The horse riding student who wants to turn shoulders and upper torso. Their shoulders don’t quite come round far enough, so they do the last little bit by lifting up their shoulders.
• The badminton student who wants to reach forward with the racket. Their arm doesn’t quite reach, so they do the last little bit by pushing down with their neck.
Sneaky, isn’t it? Next week I’ll look at ways of avoiding this trap.
In the meanwhile, I’m not the only person with traps on their mind. The same week I drafted my blog, Robert Rickover posted an excellent podcast discussing three of the biggest Alexander traps, and how to avoid them.
Anyone else got any Alexander traps to add to the list?