freedom for life

The Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre has been offering Alexander lessons and workshops since 1994.

Friday, 05 July 2013 15:35

Relax Can Equal Collapse

Relax Can Equal Collapse It is holiday time and people are heading off for what they are hoping to be a relaxing break. It is often at this point that newer pupils often think they can take a holiday from the Alexander Technique, which they have been learning to apply in their daily life. What then happens is that they fall back on habits for relaxing which are really habits for collapsing. The equating of relaxing and collapsing, while culturally re-enforced, emerges, I think, from the fact that if you have been over tensing and clenching everything up, a jolly good slump and collapse initially feels great. It comes at a price though, of less energy, poor organisation and poor preparation for action. These often bring with them the return of various symptoms that had brought people for Alexander lessons in the first place.

In learning new habits of coordination, it often takes time and this experience of discomfort to bring people to the point of reconstruing their habits for resting and relaxation. Alexander Technique is as much concerned with this, as with the active phase of action. If we are poised and balanced while at rest, then we are well organised to act dynamically, we do not need to brace ourselves for action. Both phases of the movement between action and resting can and should be done without disturbing poise and balance, otherwise we move between excess tension and collapsing as a matter of course.

Semi-supine is a great way to learn about the resting phase. It makes all the difference and with it, one learns that you properly relax by allowing yourself to expand through lengthening and widening. You also learn that proper relaxation ends with a feeling of being lightly energised, ready to do the next thing rather than sleepy relaxed. Learning this involves not just understanding the mechanics of action through how you use yourself, but breaking out of cultural norms that equate collapsing with relaxing. If you do both, then an active or restful holiday, depending on your choice, becomes possible that leaves you poised and balanced, as well as relaxed and refreshed for the return home and the return to normal everyday life.

Published in Lessons from the Chair