Zoana Gepner-Muller, one of my Alexander Technique teachers, moves so lightly that it looks as though she could take her next step might into the air.
I just had a lesson with her yesterday and a fascinating theme came up. This is what she said:
“The pain-free person is in there already; your job, then, is to allow that which is interfering with your pain-free person to soften.”
This is a profound insight.
The way most of us go about trying to free ourselves from pain is by struggling, striving, or working at it. However, the kinds of pain musicians often face - repetitive strain injuries, excess tension, etc. - tends to behave like a net wrapped around your body; the more you struggle with the net, the tighter it gets and the worse off you are.
The solution is to soften the net, not struggle against it. And an amazing thing happens when you soften the net: your body’s natural poise, grace, and confidence expresses itself effortlessly.
Another Alexander Technique teacher, Barbara Conable, said, “Your natural coordination is much stronger than your patterns of interference.” This means that the reflexes that can allow you to effortlessly stand, sit, play music, or do anything else, are stronger than the excess tension that causes discomfort and pain in your body.
So, when you find yourself in pain, instead of working against your sore muscles by stretching, wiggling, pressing, poking, or prodding, go lay down on the floor for a little while. While you’re laying down, let the floor “talk” to your whole body so that your muscles release and lengthen.
Then, as you get up, continue to allow this releasing and lengthening to happen. This releasing and lengthening is your “pain-free person,” your “natural coordination,” and although it may be a lot less noticeable than the discomfort and pain you may be experiencing, it is always there for you.
By laying down for a few minutes and letting go of your muscles, you’ve softened that which was interfering with your natural coordination, your "pain-free person."
And that’s the Alexander Technique!
Cheers, Joseph Alexander Technique Teacher, Violinist, and Founder of Pain-Free Music Philadelphia, PA
For more information on Pain-Free Music and the Alexander Technique, visit painfreemusic.com
To join my live workshop on 2/12/17 entitled “How To Practice So That Your Body Feels Better Afterwards, Even If Practicing Now Makes Your Body Tense and Painful," just send me an email at email@example.com.
You can find more details on this event in my recent blog post advertising it. Just go to painfreemusic.com/blog.