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5. Towards improved postural skills

This is the fifth text in Towards Effortlessness, a blog series where I report on the results of a customer survey I conducted in 2021. The introduction to the series is here. In this week's blog, I will address, from some perspectives generated by the data, the questions 1. "What did you seek help for from the Alexander Technique?", and 2. "Did you get the help you sought? If yes/no, please tell us a few words about it."

94 people responded to the survey. 60/94 came for private lessons or workshops to learn something I have collectively referred to here as body control.

Effortless postural control. Image: Juha Sihto

Eight people out of 60 were looking for tools to “maintain posture” (5) or to find easier “positions” at workplace (2) or other positions (1). A word about translation: In Finnish we haven’t got a word that would fully correspond the English term “posture”. We have something that is slightly less broad and a bit less mobile, “ryhti”. When clients talk to the AT teacher, they refer to both ryhti, which is the closest to posture, but they also talk about problems with finding a good position, “asento”, which would refer to something quite immobile and static. Yet “asento” is generally being used in the society when talking about live creatures. I referred to this in my previous text when I wrote that the horse riders who sought for something a bit static (asento, position) found something a bit more dynamic (easier movement) while learning the AT.

Six out of eight persons said that finding more functional postures was now easier than before. This means that one of those who looked for better “positions” had found improved “posture”. Two reported that they now find it easier to find and maintain “better positions”. The elaborations to the responses could be summarized by saying that the clients have learned to use their bodies in a way that is less stressful than before. The respondents noted that their problems seemed to improve "by themselves", as they learned not to pull and squeeze themselves by force into what was earlier perceived to be correct. Three persons emphasized that what they had primarily received was tools and skills to stop bad habits that were obviously the reasons to poor posture/ positions. Old, familiar habits often tend to return and the body either becomes tense, gets tired or feels like falling apart. In these situations, applying the Alexander Technique tools offer alternatives to the old, habitual way of being and acting. All in all, it will be justified to conclude that the respondents have learned to improve their postural skills.

In the text I published earlier about horse riders I made this notion: five riders said that changing the way they use themselves is a long road, where the body must be used quite consciously to keep harmful habits at bay. However, the riders who replied this survey said that in an attempt to get rid of the habitual body use, the user has to rack their brain to be able to fight collapsing back to the habitual. In other words, they found that the AT was somewhat difficult to apply. In contrast, in the responses I analyzed for this text and the previous one, the tendency of the habitual (body) use to always come back was not considered a threat, just something that needs to be sorted by using the AT tools. The respondents stated that the changes they were able to generate themselves by using the AT were gradual but that they could be acquired quite lightly.

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