Having taken two Alexander classes, I have a real sense of loosening throughout my body and feeling more capable of subtly orienting myself to any given posture – standing, sitting, lying down to read or watch a movie. The discipline that’s involved in Alexander work is wonderful because it is totally self-reliant – by simply being observant during my sessions as we discuss posture and intention, the work carries over outside of the studio with no muss or fuss.
The way in which Alexander counters the inclinations we all have to withdraw into ourselves as a consequence of daily modern life is pretty stark, and impossible to miss – headed uptown after my second lesson, packed into the usual sardine crush on the 1 train, I found myself exhibiting a poise in the situation that I definitely hadn’t had two hours previous. Even with no personal “space” whatsoever, I was able to keep equilibrium without falling back into the habitual bank-faced retreat that most people maintain on the subway.
In some ways, the work seems counter-intuitive at times: to begin to see sitting in a chair as a matter of holding oneself up at every moment, even while sitting in it, takes some getting used to. You wouldn’t think that it would really lend to a sense of greater ease, but it does, in the same way that standing from the chair is more about going up than forward.
I’m interested to explore the ways in which Alexander work is similar to or different from other kinds of movement work – ballet, martial arts. My impression thus far is that there is a deep difference between Alexander and the aforementioned – since Alexander is not concerned, it seems, with creating a definite impression of the body stance that is visible to others and which has specific purposes and aims, but only with loosening and enlarging the sense of body and sense of self for whatever purposes one may have.