11.09.19: AT Lesson: Monkey'n Around

We were glad to get back to our Alexander lesson, and as she worked to help break the pattern of tension and find relaxation again. We began our session focusing on releasing through the neck and back. She guided me through releasing my arms and finding a better balance through the body. She explained a little more about ribs to help get a better understanding of how the body actually functions. The highest ribs are actually higher than the collar bone, they can't be felt through the skin because they are covered by layers of muscles. The lungs themselves actually come up a little bit higher than the top rib, so our lungs actually start within our necks rather than below our collar bones as our mind often thinks they are. The result is that when the neck and shoulder area is tense it is impossible to get a deep breath into our lungs. It simply won't work. She also explained that ribs are only connected to bone at the back of the spine, and are sort of hinged to the spine between the vertebrae. When lungs fill with air, the ribs expand outward side to side under our arms. The widest point of our torso is right below our arms. As the diaphragm drops, the organs have to shift a bit lower and bulge outward slightly, which pushes down on the pelvic floor. As we exhale, the pelvic floor contracts slightly, initiating a push to move everything upward again so that ribs can contract and release the air. If any part of that sequence harbors tension, then it is almost impossible for the other parts to function at their optimum level.
She was really able help me find a lot of release and find the correct poise for my head, as well as freeing up everything else. She guided me to stand up, which was effortless, and then had me walk a bit. When I made a lap of the room, she helped to guide me into a slightly better position with my hips by having me think 'monkey' (but not do anything), and sent me around the room again and I found that walking took even less effort and felt very comfortable. If only it could remain that easy all of the time!
She began to work with Jim finding the same thing for him - freeing his breathing and helping him find the support from his spine that should be there. He was able to find his own balance and support and free up the tension that he was holding onto. She guided him into a standing position as well, and allowed him to walk around the room a bit. He was doing better remembering to step off with his right foot first, and she was able to help him make some adjustments to improve his gait just a little bit more so that he was tracking more forward and not side to side. He noticed a different immediately and was able to find some stability in the new pattern. We talked about how much the monkey stance formed the basis of the foundation of almost all movement. She event said that during one class she had a student hat had an allergy sneezing fit, and so the entire class spent the next 20 minutes learning to sneeze in Monkey stance. We laughed about it, but the reality is that it is much easier on the body! Lord knows I've pulled muscles from sneezing in a bad position before!
Jim has threatened to get a barrel of monkeys to help remind us of the correct position that we should be in. More fun than a barrel full of monkeys for sure!
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11.10.01: Day of the Horse