Usually, But Not Always

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Have you ever noticed how human beings like easy answers?  Most of them, most of the time.  Alexander Technique students, usually being human beings, also like easy answers.  Which is a bit of a shame when life throws up complex problems that require more complex, or at least, flexible, thinking to solve.

This came home forcibly in a recent lesson looking at how best to get your eyes closer to the computer screen.  Moving the laptop closer wasn’t possible.  Bending at the hips was tricky because of the angle of the footrest.  The arms of the chair prevented pulling it further forward.  So I suggested curving the spine, to great indignation from my student.

“But you always tell me to move from the hips.  I’ve been practising moving from the hips for months”

She wasn’t wrong.  Having done a quick mental review of all her lessons that I could remember, I decided we had always worked in moving from the hips.  Quick rethink needed, for teacher and for student.  In fairness, the hip joints are far better designed to make those sorts of bending movements than the spine.  Usually, moving at the hip joints is by far the better option.

Usually.  But not always.

Maybe there’s a table in the way.  Or your trousers are too tight.  Or you want to sleep.  Or you have a serious medical problem with your hip joints.  There are lots of potential maybes that mean hips are not the best option.  Sticking like glue to the easy answer, the ‘right’ answer, or the answer your teacher has told you, is going to cause its own set of problems.  That’s why it’s so important to stop, very briefly, to “analyse the conditions” and “reason out”(*) the what, how and why of what you are about to do.

Real life doesn’t always follow the usual rules.  If you want flexible movement, you need flexible thinking.


(*) I must … employ my reasoning processes, in order
                (1) to analyse the conditions of use present;
                (2) to select (reason out) the means whereby a more satisfactory use could be brought about;
                (3) to project consciously the directions required for putting these means into effect.
     The Use of the Self, FM Alexander, IRDEAT edition p.423 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Alexander thinking, asking questions, movement
2 comments on “Usually, But Not Always
  1. Martin Green says:

    Karen, my teacher Jennifer say one can have “flexible thinking” then have “completely different flexible thinking.” This blew my mind, to say the least.

    • You know what, Martin – that blew my mind, too! But I think Jen is absolutely right. Flexible thinking can mean so much more than you can cover in one short blog, and the details will vary enormously from person to person. It does open up a lot of exciting possibilities. Karen

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