“My Feet Can Follow My Head”

“My feet can follow by head”

‘People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures’, said FM Alexander.  

Information and knowledge are useful.  Putting these into action is even more useful.  Committing to doing this thinking-in-activity one, three, or ten times a day – then you’ll really start to notice the benefits.

As many of you know, one of Alexander’s major discoveries about us mammals is that the relationship between the head and spine govern the coordination of the rest of us.  Yes – all of us!  Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – we don’t separate – its all one thing – our Self.
                              

    
One foot on tip toe.
 (Turns out its quite hard to photograph yourself on tiptoes!)
 



“My feet can follow by head”

Do you sometimes need to reach up high to something and stand on your tip toes?

Does this make you wobble, lean and feel like a strain in your calves?

I love to observe movement, in all its glorious mundaneness.  I think this is my super-power.  I am really curious how I, and you and others, organise our movements.  What do we do, what don’t we need to do, which bit leads, do other bits follow in sequence – or are the brakes on and the movement only gets so far before it is blocked…

In my kitchen it has a sloping ceiling with a skylight and cupboards up the wall on the taller side.  These cupboards are two normal cupboards stacked on top of each other.  This is brilliant for me, as I am above average height.  As a compromise the designer made them all relatively lower to the counter top (note: not much room for books or appliances in this gap!)

The point is, that when I need that next box of teabags, or to refill my jumbo oats container – I need to reach up high to the second row of cupboards to gain access to these dry goods.  I tend to do this in the way I do most things – with my head leading the way for my torso to follow, then my feet get their turn and follow as far as they need to until I can reach the desired box.

I thought this was the usual thing.  Is this you too?

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about stand up now please and reach up and see what you notice about yourself.  Which part of you leads the movement, do you stretch and strain, hold your breath, push up with your feet, raise the shoulder area before your hand.  Do you float up and lean forwards?  Is it easy or effortful?  What do you do?

Please go and try this for yourself and take note of what you are doing.

It is fine – go and come back with your findings…
 

…. take your time, I can wait ….


Hello again.  How did you get on?  What did you notice?

It isn’t always easy to tell at first.  You may notice how you did the movement in a broad way – “I reached up and got the box and brought it down”.

Great, and I want to know HOW you did this.

“I moved my right hand, went up on tiptoes and picked up the box and brought it down.”

Great!  And HOW did you do that?

“I don’t know?  What do you mean?”

I might ask about some or all of these:  

How did you organise yourself?  How did your eyes move and which part of your hand moved first.  Did your hands and eyes work together?  Did you push up with your feet? (Probably and yet, no so helpful).  Did you lead with your head so that your whole body could follow?  Did you stay central over your feet as if rising up in a lift or did you lean forwards?  Did your head keep going up until your feet lengthened and only the ball of the foot was on the ground?  Did you use the least amount of effort and muscular work in your whole arm limb, torso and legs to pick up the box of teabags?  

There are a lot of things to be aware of, a lot of details which are available broadly speaking and to bring to our attention in more detail one or two bite sized mouthfuls at a time.

And how did you organise yourself to return to the ground?

Did you think about staying your full height and width before you moved?

Did you let your heels float down to the ground?

Many of us won’t give as much thought to our movements as I do, until something starts to hurt.  I guess it is human nature.  Perhaps we were subliminally taught as we grew up, not to mind so much How we did anything, but to get the right answer and get the job done ‘quickly’ so we could relax or do something ‘more interesting’.  

What if, picking up the next box of tea bags from the top shelf of a cupboard is as good as it gets?  What if this is Life?  What if Life is made up of all sorts of mundane movements?  What if these mundane movements and moments could become more shiny and valuable as each moment is full of care and possibility?  We are either living well and fully in this present moment, or we are distracted, disconnected and living for the next great highlight.  (Ok some people live more for yesteryear too.)

I do love a good highlights – but my bar is set quite low so I get great pleasure in a simple everyday movement done well.

Are you interested in exploring how to stop your calves aching, learning how not to be so wobbly on your feet and how to stay breathable without needing to lean on the cupboards (and incrementally drag them off the wall)?  If so then, please re-read this email, have a go at honing your self-observation skills and start exploring your coordination and activity plans.

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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What My Clients Say

“No pain in the night, no pain when I got up, no pain when I went for a run and no pain now! It’s much more than I expected, thank you! "

Steve

"It is as though I have been gifted an entirely new lens through which to view human behaviour, and it is a lens of compassion and empathy like no other. Due to this, I have been able to come to terms with the way my family operates, which has proven to be a great relief. I would definitely recommend working with Lucy. She held such a safe space for me and my vulnerability with great compassion and authenticity."

Elena

"Using these techniques has helped me reduce the day-to-day tension I’ve developed over a lifetime of anxious habits and hypersensitivity. It’s been amazing to re-learn how my body works, and how to swap out the survival mechanisms that got me so far, for habits more in keeping with how my body is happier to work."

Alex Booer

“I’ve been doing the Alexander Technique with Lucy over the past few months and my posture has improved enormously. I have a greater awareness of how my body functions and can recognise the signs of when I’m falling into bad habits."

Paul Tolton, Actor

"I feel present. Nice to feel here, not racing ahead. I have a more measured, calm approach. I’m less reactive and am learning to look after myself and choose my responses.”

Rosie

"I had a traumatic accident a few years ago. After you ‘wriggled’ my head it felt weird – and really good. I could walk evenly for the first time in years!! I’m making friends with my body.”

Zoe, Singer

"I have been happily surprised and have learned a lot about how my muscles and spine behave when I let them. I rapidly realised that AT is not in the least pseudoscience, rather it teaches one to be aware of how the body is holding itself."

Julian Davis, Retired Professor of Medicine & Pianist

"I've just had two enjoyable and useful sessions with Lucy on Zoom. I had been doubtful about how it would work but I was pleased with how it went. Of course, nothing is as good as face-to-face but we are where we are and this was great and has helped me to progress as I had hoped. Thank you. Looking forward to the next ones!"

Bev

"Lucy's sessions are amazing. Her unique blend of skills helped me have good posture without effort. Before this, I had seen many physiotherapists and osteopaths, but the pain kept coming back within a few weeks. Even after my first session with Lucy, the difference was so clear that my friends commented on it. After several months, the effects are being maintained with her support."

Julia