Unpacking “forwards and up”

April 21, 2010

There’s a lot of subtlety to how you can go about the task of freeing the neck and directing the head forwards and upwards (an important key to applying the Alexander technique, for those who are newcomers).
A lot of A.T. teachers will conceptualise “forwards and up” to their students as being like a line pointing in a diagonal direction to a point located above and in front of them. But another teacher I spoke to recently feels quite strongly that this can lead to people pointing the head in this direction in quite a fixed way, which is obviously undesirable.
It’s better to keep these two ideas – of “forward” and “up” – separate, she said. So you should be thinking of the head going forward (relative to the backwards direction) and up (relative to downwards). In that way, you will probably find it easier to direct the head while freely moving it around, back and forth – looking at the sky, looking down at your shoes and so on.
In our efforts to “free the neck, to let the head go forward and up” we can sometimes forget that this corresponds to quite a light, non-fixed balance of the head. It should be easy for someone to come along and move your head this way and that (rotating it from side to side or tilting it up and down, for example) with ease, while the head simply balances freely on top of the spine. Well, obviously give them a slap if they do it without asking.

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