onsdag 23. september 2015

Beyond Angles

This is the English version of the article Vinkler, somewhat rewritten.

I have the impression that what most people think of as being good use of the body is having the "correct" angles between body parts. This can be the angle of the head in relation to the neck, the angle of the pelvis in relation to the rest of the torso, or the angle between the upper and lower arm when typing on the computer, or the angle between the thigh and the lower leg when sitting.

The problem with this way of thinking is that if you believe there is a "correct" angle you very likely view others as being "wrong". Having a fixed belief you risk unconsciously limiting your opportunities, which is wrong in any case.

There are situations where some angles are more functional and efficient than others, and the body has certain natural limitations, (unless you are a contortionist). But although it can have some practical value, a mindset focused on finding the optimal angle has serious limitations. Instead, think the opposite: Imagine having any conceivable angle available. The more angles you have available, the more dynamic and healthy the use of your mind-body will be.

Here methods like Feldenkrais and yoga have their advantages. In the Feldenkrais method every possibility is explored and all possibilities remain open. In yoga, you can experience angles and positions you may not get the chance to experience in the rest of your daily activities. (Although yoga angles may also become habitual and stereotyped over time).

In Alexander Technique teaching, we often use very simple movements. The danger is that the number of angles are reduced to a minimum. Unless your teacher is good at suggesting variations you may unconsciously begin to limit your options in your movements.

Unfortunately, I now and then see Alexander Technique teachers give advice on what are appropriate angles in different daily activities. Although the advice given are mostly very sensible, the problem is that this hasn't really got that much to do with the Alexander Technique. It may lead to misunderstandings about what the the technique is about, and only serve to strengthen the mistaken belief of the existence of the one true angle.

Instead of giving advice on the optimal angles we should encourage applying the Alexander Technique to the exploration of a multitude of angles. For, as it is written: 
There is no such thing as a right position, but there is such a thing as a right direction.

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