I’m no longer practicing (as a practitioner); these days I’m doing lessons on-lineby myself and by others (and in person when I travel).
As I do the lessons, I like to write up a few notes about what I observe in my teaching and in my developing understanding of the lesson. Maybe these reflections are useful to people developing their own teaching.
This week I did Tilting Pelvis Sitting, a lesson I recorded in my last series before I stopped teaching. (It’s from San Francisco.)
A few things strike me on doing my own recorded lesson, and they have an effect on how I “tag” the lesson with the tags by which you can navigate to find lessons in the “tag cloud”.
One is that I like the way I go through the scan with a sense of curiosity, even though it’s a very familiar approach to the scan. At the same time, I think this scan could be more in tune with the actual progress of the lesson. For example, the lesson definitely for a spell engages the extensors, and what people might find through that portion of the lesson is that the arch behind their low backs gets higher and their heels/head press more heavily into the floor. Then the lesson balances this with actions in folding–and here the usual process of flattening and spreading on the floor happens.
Another thing I notice is that I preserve in my teaching something that whose significance didn’t strongly effect me experientially until doing the lesson this time through (after many times). That is, Moshe emphasizes in lessons like this that we feel how the ribs and elbow on the opposite side to the knee that is going towards the floor move away from one another. So I mention this. I don’t place a great deal of emphasis on it. If I were teaching it today, I would emphasize it more. But still, with some subtlety, so that people can really discover it for themselves. But the movement of the elbow and ribs apart is the key to what I now see as the point of the lesson: that a certain involvement of the shoulder girdle (movement of the clavicle, direction of movement of the shoulder blade—and the freedom of both of these in relation to the ribcage and the neck) has everything to do with the precision to which one can form and enact the intention of taking the knees towards the floor. This is much more Moshe’s point than the local low back/knee relationship I mentioned when I posted the lesson.
I tend to tag lessons so you can find them–you would recognize this because you’re sitting and lying face up with the soles of your feet together. I tend not to tag them by the “expected result” or the “intention” because I think it takes a lot of interpretation to get to that point, and (separate point) people’s learning from a lesson can be very diverse, whatever the key intention Moshe had in designing the lesson.
When it comes to this intention/action point, I hear myself as I teach this lesson doing something that we all tend to do as teachers in our “California” style of teaching (if I may call it that), something that is quite different from Moshe’s style. I emphasize that it’s all right if the movement is mysterious to you and you’re not sure how to do it. You should just accept that and notice what you are doing.
Moshe wouldn’t say that: he’d harangue you. Not only can’t you take your knee to the floor, which any idiot ought to be able to do, you can’t even tell that you can’t do it–you’re making all sorts of distorted movements and pretending to yourself that what you’re doing is taking your knee to the floor, but you’re not. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can’t do what you want. Etc.
Now, many of us don’t adopt this style because we’re not personally comfortable delivering this kind of harangue. But we can evolve a style that captures a bit more of Moshe’s challenge and urgency than I have done here. You can say to people — look at that! Look at how hard it is to really tell if you’re doing what you think you’re doing! Who would have thought that would be so unclear? And then, the point of forming the intention and then being aware of what you actually do is that you evaluate that gap and learn from it, whether you do this consciously or not–your nervous system does this quite naturally and can be trusted to do it, unless you overwhelm it with willpower and force. That, and not some general belief in the self-esteem value of accepting yourself, stands behind the injunction that you should notice what you actually do and not rush past (end-gain as they call it in the Alexander Technique) your learning to the desired result.
And then there’s my repeated singular/plural problems I display (we have two thighs, not one; the impression of your head into the floor is a phenomenon, not a phenomena). I hear that the latest research shows there’s one personality profile for people who are sensitive to spelling errors and another for people who are sensitive to grammatical errors…
I wrote the notes while a little sleepy last night. I left out the second half of the lesson in claiming what I do about the elbow and ribs. In the second half of the lesson, taking the knee towards the floor in flexion and then into rolling, you slide your hand under your legs in sitting–now you’re freeing the shoulder blade and clavicle from the neck and ribs in the opposite way. Note the different tilt of the shoulder blade: the upper angle and the lower angle–which goes towards or away from the spine in the way you take the knee to the floor in extension and in flexion? This supports the idea that the lesson is designed for this freedom of the shoulder girdle and its integration with the intention of the taking the knee to the floor, in the context now of a function as a whole–rolling.