Monday, February 1, 2010

Alexander and...Almonds OR "Am I (un)doing this right?"


Maybe it's the alliteration, but I was really in the mood for almonds after my Alexander Technique group class. Here comes another one of my NYC Yoga Passbook experience posts:

Pass 3: Two classes in the Alexander Technique (1 attended so far) through ACAT (The American Center for the Alexander Technique), Union Square. The first class is a group introductory class, free with or without the pass. The second class allowed through the passbook offer will be a one-on-one session with a certified teacher. Rebecca from ACAT says, "let folks know to bring their coupon to the group demonstration. We are prepared to assign private lesson teachers at the event."
Date(s): 2/1
Lisa Lutton, with hands-on assistance from Jane Tomkiewicz and Elizabeth Reid.
Even without the passbook, you can attend this class for free on the first Monday of each month. But that didn't make it seem like less of a value to me, when all was said and done. I appreciate that the passbook informed me about the session, which I otherwise wouldn't have known about.
I entered ACAT's space on 14th Street with a slight timidity, but eventually found myself feeling there hung a certain golden glow over the evening. The room warmed up, and so did I. Lisa Lutton (who also teaches in private practice on the upper west side) had a special air of calm authority about her, without seeming at all authoritarian. Need I say her posture was lovely? After Elizabeth welcomed us and introduced her, Lisa gave us an introduction to a few ideas behind the intentional, thoughtful movement that the Technique seeks and why it is efficient and desirable. We watched her demonstrate with her own body, and then with volunteers, the physical possibilities when one thinks "forward" and "up" while sitting, rising, standing, and even running.
Our small class (only six non-teachers/non-trainees were in attendance) then broke into 3 groups of two, each with a teacher, to practice a bit more focused upright and table work. I still feel like The Alexander Technique approaches "magical" when one first experiences it, due to how infinitesimal and almost "accidental" adjustments seem (though, of course, they're no accidents), but I am also convinced of its utility. I was in Lisa's small group, and she offered both verbal and kinesthetic/physical feedback while working with us. Something clicked for me on the table as she spoke about "undoing" and "doing less" with our bodies. I could feel progress when I occasionally managed to harness the "thinking without trying" she described. Who knew I needed to think about making my ribs go "mushy" to release inhibiting tension?
At the end of even such limited one-on-one work, and after a surprising but not at all upsetting tear rolled down my face (isn't it interesting how an emotional response can sneak up on one during new forms of physical movement?), I felt more stretched and buoyant for a few minutes, before sinking back into my poor posture and bad physical habits. I tried to think and un-do and allow my body to do less all the way home on the subway, and it felt good even though I have barely scratched the surface of "right."
I know it would take work to progress and retrain my body, but the effects of Alexander felt very real to me after this class. I'm interested in doing more work in the Technique, and will be looking into the "volunteer student" program ACAT offers to support its teacher trainees.
Post-Workout Comestibles: A handful of almonds felt right.
Total passbook classes/Goal: 4/40

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