Gokhale Method vs. Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

NPR recently featured a story on Esther Gokhale’s method for helping people uncover their “Primal Posture™ for a Pain-Free Life”.

 

Since its publication, this story, entitled “Lost Posture: Why Some Indigenous Cultures May Not Have Back Pain”, was sent to me so many times by members of my community, a thoughtful response from my perspective as an Alexander Technique teacher seems appropriate and hopefully useful.

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An Open Letter to Your Boss by Ariel Carson

Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, recently endorsed the Alexander Technique for helping with “desk bound back pain” in his new book Work Rules.

Oh dreamy Google, if only all companies could foster such awesome workplace environments.

My universal vision is that one day everyone with a desk job, or who uses a computer for long periods of time, would learn the skill of Alexander Technique to help them stay pain free and injury free, and reduce work related stress.

In my vision, I see open spaces with yoga mats and soft cover books where employees do Constructive Rest on their lunch breaks, or as part of their prep for big presentations, or even as a way to begin meetings.

That’s why I have drafted a memorandum below to be sent to your boss. That’s right, your Head Honcho, Chief Director President Executive Officer, Charles in Charge, Super-Duper-Visor, to let them know it’s high time some changes were made. Self-care is nonnegotiable. Because hey, we all deserve a chance to be as cool as Google. 

And if you already are the boss, this one’s for you.

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How the Alexander Technique Helped Me Get Hired and Promoted Twice All in One Year by Ariel Carson

It started as an entry-level position, transcribing raw uncut video footage for a television production company, Monday through Friday, eight hours per day. Having no dreams or aspirations to forge a career in television, it was just helpful to have a job that paid my bills as I finished my last year of Alexander Technique teacher training.

My friend recommended me to the hiring manager, which got me in the door, but the interview went well too. Grounded through my sit bones, and the contact of my feet on the floor, allowing the chair to support me, my breath moved calmly and freely. Staying open through my shoulder girdle, and long through my spine, I did not sink down or collapse into my low back and abdomen. Voice clear, eyes bright and open, I connected with the supervisor in an alert but relaxed way. These were my Alexander Technique skills in action.

I was hired.

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How to Find Inner Peace Even While That Annoying Guy Next to You Screams on His Cell Phone (Hint: It doesn’t involve knocking him out). by Ariel Carson

The car alarm honks outside your bedroom window for hours at a time.
Around every corner another computer screen glares in your face.
Advertisements infiltrate your dreams.

We are a culture bombarded by stimuli.

So when we need to rejuvenate we tend to close our eyes.

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New Year's Slow Change Challenge by Ariel Carson

This January ditch the tired rhetoric of "New Year New You." 

Are personal growth, change, and renewal worthy goals? Of course!

However, the instantaneous results we have come to expect from our self improvement efforts are often not achieved by sustainable means. 

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$5 Lessons for Activists by Ariel Carson

Announcing $5 Private Alexander Technique Lessons for Activists on Wednesday evenings in Bushwick from 5-8pm.

It's too frequently forgotten that self care is of the utmost importance in order to be an effective catalyst for deep, authentic, and widespread change. Finding ways to access sustainable support in your body-mind-spirit will help you stay revitalized and balanced in the face of great demands.

From learning how to walk more efficiently for marches, to holding your protest sign with less tension, to using your voice healthfully to speak the words that need to be heard, may the Alexander Technique provide you with the tools you need to stand your ground, and find pain relief, space, and dynamic stability as you move forward seeking justice, peace, and equality for all.

Your activism can extend to any arena you find pertinent, as long as you are committed to a peaceful approach. Just send along one sentence of what you are currently doing to cultivate positive change locally, nationally, and/or globally, when you email redefiningposture [at] gmail [dot] com to set up a time for your lesson.

Get Yourself Together! by Ariel Carson

Try this:

  • Mentally, or out loud, tell yourself to “Get your $#!+ together!”
  • Say it like you mean it.
  • Without judgment, closely observe what happens in your body and breath for 30 seconds as you repeat that command.

 

If you’re reading this blog post chances are you have found a satisfactory, if not more than satisfactory, socially acceptable way to “Get your $#!+ together” in order to function in your daily life. You keep yourself together mentally, physically, and emotionally well enough to sustain some sort of a career, home and social life.

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Stair Master by Ariel Carson

Using the Alexander Technique to Improve Stair Climbing Skillz

Whether you're living out your own personal Rocky Balboa "Eye of the Tiger" montage, the elevator to your 9th floor office is out of service, or you have to transfer from the A/C/E to the N/Q/R at Times Square, tackling multiple flights of stairs can be physically demanding for anyone. Here’s how to apply the Alexander Technique to take you from Stair Novice to Stair Master in 5 Simple Steps (pun intended).

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Sustainability and the Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

You compost and recycle. You buy organic local goods. You ride your bike to work, and you shower in under five minutes. You make sustainable choices, because you know that while we have been able to run on oil and gas for a long time, accomplishing a great many things, these resources are rapidly depleting. We must now instead find sustainable renewable energy from more abundant natural resources like the sun and wind. However, as Señor Ghandi so wisely said if we must "be the change [we] wish to see in the world," supporting Mother Earth begins at the most local ecosystem we know.

 

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New Fall Smoothie for Alternative Happy Hour by Ariel Carson

Redefining Posture - Alexader Technique - Happy Hour - Bushwick

Trying to break  the ol' after work drinks at the bar routine? Introducing the new Apple Pie Smoothie as part of Alternative Happy Hour on Wednesday evenings at my Bushwick studio from 5-8pm.  Share an hour long Alexander Technique lesson with a friend, and enjoy this delicious "seasonally appropriate" smoothie while you're at it. A relaxing and nourishing way to change up your 5 o'clock habits. $30 per person. Book your happy hour today by emailing me at redefiningposture@gmail.com. *Smoothie designed by health coach Patrizia Hernandez of La Vita Wellness.


Alexander Technique? Ain't Nobody Got Time for That! by Ariel Carson

Several students have asked me variations of the same question in the past several weeks, so I wanted to take a moment to address it here.

The question:  I feel great when I slow down and become more aware in my Alexander Technique lessons, but I don't know how to maintain that awareness when I have to move quickly in the rest of my life. Is the point of Alexander Technique to be aware 100% of the time?

Answer in short:  Hell no! Ain't nobody got time for that!

There’s no way for us mere mortals to be mindful and aware of our mind-body-selves 100% of the time. We’re just not built for that.  But how about for 10 minutes a day, or 5 minutes? How about for even just a split second check-in to stop and ask yourself, "Can I do less?" or "Can I release my neck into length and my back into expansion?"

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Fight/Flight/Freeze and the Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

In Memory of All the Unarmed Black Men Who Have Died at the Hands of Police Officers

Once I watched a grown man in a business suit leap out of his subway seat with fear and surprise at the sight of a lone purple grape rolling down the floor of the train car headed toward his feet. I can only assume that out of the corner of his eye he saw something more threatening than a grape. Perhaps he thought it was a mouse, or perhaps he knew it was a grape, but a traumatizing experience with fruit from his past triggered a fearful reaction causing him to jump up and run away.

We all have our purple grapes: stimuli in our lives that trigger our Fight/Flight/Freeze responses, because they are associated with some past experience where, real or not, we perceived our lives as threatened. Fight/Flight/Freeze (FFF) is seen all throughout animals in nature, and even though we modern day humans rarely need to fight, run, or play dead to save our lives as we once did when we lived out in the open with other animals who saw us as prey, we still often feel as though that were the case.

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Feminism and the Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

During a private lesson, one of my students recently said as a result of the work we were doing she felt like she did not have to do anything other than what she was doing, or be any other way that how she was in that moment.

We are often programmed to think we need to do or be something more than we are. Even with the freedom I am privileged to experience as a woman in the United States, I still encounter pressure from society at large, and in personal relationships, to act and look and be a certain way in order to conform to a socially acceptable standard of femininity.

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Mindfulness and the Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

An article entitled "No Time to Think" by Kate Murphy published in the New York Times Sunday Review on July 27th, 2014 states:

"In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes."

It speculates that the constant busyness many of us seem to experience, and sometimes even glorify this day and age, may just be a tactic for avoiding self-reflection. Busyness distracts us from acknowledging the reality of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations -- particular those we consider "negative". 

As an Alexander Technique teacher and resident of the City that Never Sleeps, this does not come as a surprise to me. Many of my students and fellow city dwellers spend their every day powering forward with no time for pause, working nonstop to get ahead in their careers, going to the gym, bouncing from one social engagement to the next, running errands, and keeping up with social media 24/7. But this pace is not sustainable. Whatever feelings and sensations we shut out get pushed down in our psyches, only to bubble up in unexpected ways at unexpected times. Without time for self-reflection, we're just hurtling through our lives on auto-pilot, limiting our capacity for growth and change.

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Failure and the Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

My Love Affair With the F Word

I wanted to write about why failure is an essential element in any Alexander Technique practice, but everything I wrote seemed overly complicated and wordy. I was having a difficult time trying to squeeze out a decent draft from what I had, until I remembered to practice the very thing I was preaching.

The way I was writing wasn’t working, so instead of charging forward without changing anything, I stopped. I let go of the familiar tension that had built up over the process of banging out the first draft, released my neck and back, and allowed myself to grow into more of my full expansiveness. I let my breathing open up, and I acknowledged the support of the ground. I wiped the slate clean and started over.

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Alexander Technique vs. Massage by Ariel Carson

Sounds of the rainforest permeate the lavender scented room. Lying between soft clean sheets, a warm heavy pillow rests on your abdomen. You close your eyes and breathe deeply while a skilled masseuse slowly and evenly kneads out unruly knots and rock hard tension. Your obligations and to-do lists melt away, and you are left with pure and decadent relaxation.

Yes. Please. ThankYouVeryMuch.

Most of you would probably agree a thorough deep tissue massage from time to time is a little slice of heaven. So why on earth would you spend your precious resources taking Alexander Technique lessons, when you could instead just keep getting massages?

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Workshop Series at Loom Yoga Center in Bushwick by Ariel Carson

Loom Yoga Center

Loom Yoga Center

On Sunday mornings in June I will be leading a series of Alexander Technique workshops at the amazing Loom Yoga Center in Bushwick. Each workshop has a different theme. You can come to one, or you can save money by signing up for all four in advance. Click here to register, and read below for workshop descriptions. This is a great way to see if the Alexander Technique is a good fit for you, and to learn how to apply the basic principles to your daily life. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

Sittin’ Pretty - Sunday June 1st, 10-11:30am
In a world where many of us sit at computers for 8 or more hours a day, reduce back pain and repetitive strain injury by learning to sit with greater ease and improved posture.

Walkin’ Tall - Sunday June 8th, 10-11:30am
Whether you want to strut down the runway, or stroll down the street, discover your full upright stature, and how to walk with the utmost freedom.


Breathin’ Easy - Sunday June 22nd, 10-11:30am
Many ancient traditions like yoga know the power of the breath. In this workshop, you will investigate how your breath is interlinked with your postural support, and how to cultivate a more unified and effortless connection of your breath to your whole mind-body being.

Speakin’ Out - Sunday June 29th, 10-11:30am
Give yourself the tools to feel calmer, more confident, and more collected in any performance situation. Perfect for auditioning actors, singers, public speakers, or anyone who has to do presentations in front of other people.



SINGLE SESSION $20
SERIES $70

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Alternative Happy Hour by Ariel Carson

smoothie pic

Are you looking for a healthful alternative to after work drinks with a friend? Announcing Happy Hour at my Bushwick studio every Wednesday from 5pm-8pm! You and your friend will have a shared hour long Alexander Technique lesson, along with a delicious smoothie, specially designed by my dear friend and amazing health coach Patrizia Hernandez of La Vita Wellness, to help release your muscles and nourish your whole being. $30 per person. Book your Happy Hour today by emailing Ariel at redefiningposture@gmail.com.

Life's a Beach by Ariel Carson

Just before beginning my Alexander Technique teacher training, I recurrently imagined myself on a tropical beach trying to grab on to a fistful of dry powdery sand. If you’ve ever done this, you know that truly dry sand will just run out of your fist, as it did in my imagination. You may be able to retain a small amount, but the majority will escape through whatever openings your hand provides.

 

By the end of my Alexander Technique teacher training the image had evolved into scooping up a handful of sand and letting it sift through my fingers, appreciating its texture and warmth. I was also able to imagine more of the environment around me. Instead of focusing all of my attention on the fistful of sand, I could smell the sea breeze, see the clear blue water, and hear the comforting sound of the waves rolling on to shore.

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