Getting Out Of It

Now that you have got over your sofa guilt (see my last post), and are happily sitting in your favourite couch, you may have run into the second problem good Alexander students have with sofas.

How to get out of it.

With your dignity intact.  Especially if you are small or not very mobile.

Most people will encounter ‘getting out of a chair’ quite early on in Alexander Technique lessons.  The steps will follow a plan something like this:-

  • Pay attention to what’s happening with your head and neck
  • Put your feet flat on the floor
  • Lean forward from the hips until your weight is over your knees
  • Straighten your legs and your torso

It’s a good strategy.  However, in lessons it will almost always be used to get out of a solid, wooden, dining-room type chair, with a flat, horizontal seat.

70 sofachair pic2

Try this plan in a sofa, and the word that comes to mind is “struggle”.  Why? The conditions present are different.  Sagginess, squashiness, depth, height; it’s all different from the well-regulated dining room chair.  The standard plan isn’t going to work, at least not without some modification.  The Alexander solution? Stop struggling, and use the same two steps we talked about last time:-

“Analyze the conditions of use present”
and then…
 “Reason out the means whereby a more satisfactory use could be brought about” (†)

I know I’m repeating myself, but really these are such important ideas they deserve repetition.

So, analysis and reasoning out.  The strategy I just listed doesn’t work because:-

  • Your bottom is too far back
  • Your torso is leaning a long way backwards
  • The seat doesn’t support you

The solutions to these problems?

  • Move your bottom further forward
  • Lean your torso further forward
  • Use the front edge of the sofa, which usually has a wooden frame underneath it

Not difficult.  Now put all these into the original plan, and you have something like…

  • Pay attention to what’s happening with your head and neck
  • Put your feet flat on the floor
  • Move your bottom forward until it reaches the solid frame part of the sofa
  • Move your torso upright
  • Lean forward from the hips until your weight is over your knees
  • Straighten your legs and your torso

Modified strategy.  Minimum struggle.  Thank you, FM Alexander.

(†) FM Alexander, ‘The Use of the Self’, IRDEAT edition p.423. 

“Man with bubble” image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net, modified by me.

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CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

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Posted in asking questions, everyday life, experiment, tips

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