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Friday
Jun272014

ORAL SEAL

5 things to learn from the Oral Seal

In the chapter on breathing in Walter Carrington's book "Thinking Aloud" he writes about the oral seal and indicates there is a lot to learn from the oral seal.  
   
The oral seal is when you close off the oral cavity from the nasopharnyx. To make the seal touch the tip of your tongue against the back of your lower teeth. There should be no pressure against the teeth and jaw. Then let the back of your tongue come up to gently touch your soft palate (behind your back molars). Keep the tongue wide and soft as it contacts the soft palate. Allow the larynx to hang from that contact point. You will then be breathing in and out of your nose.  It may feel at first as if you are “doing” something to keep the oral seal in place. This is most likely because you have been pulling your tongue down habitually. Play with this and see what happens. I think the natural and optimal tongue place is when the tongue is quite high and wide in the back.
 
The oral seal:

  •  Identifies and sensitizes the inner landscape of the head, neck, tongue and jaw. This is an area many of us haven’t considered that we can actually sense and direct.
  • Takes pressure off the top of the spine so you can find a higher and more accurate sense of the atlanto-occipital joint where the head and spine meet. Check to see that you are not pushing your tongue down to make the oral seal.  The back of the tongue goes up and back from the tip of the tongue reinforcing the up and back of the whole body.
  • Identifies the length of your air column/tube.  With the oral seal the column comes up to the back of your nose along your spine.
  • Helps you notice if you are sucking or pulling the air in and out when you inhale and exhale.  Leave your tongue alone as much as possible.
  • Contributes to the “up the front” direction of your body.  As you release up into the oral seal there is a sense of coming up the front of the body which balances the lengthening and widening of the back. 
Wednesday
May212014

Dart Procedures Lecture

We had an excellent Freedom to Move conference last month. Enjoy this Dart Procedure demonstration by Alex Murray.  

Monday
May052014

Throughness

I started using the word throughness in my teaching several years ago. I didn’t know if it was a real word or not, but it was the best word I could come up with to describe what I experience and what I observe happens when we are free and directed. There is a sense of openness and of the flow that goes through the body without resistance from gravity to the sky, from the sky to the pull of gravity, from body part to body part, and so on.

I finally looked throughness up in Google and found that it is actually a real word used in horseback riding. It is where the rider senses the ground through the horse. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

“In equestrianism, throughness is an absence of resistance in the horse to the rider's commands.”

Click on this Wikipedia link to see how the lines of flow and energy go from the rider into the ground and back up again through the horse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throughness

It is interesting that Alexander was such a horse person and was probably on a horse the day after he was born. He must have been aware of sensing through the horse, and I’m projecting a little bit, but I think he must have naturally sensed the same throughness in people when he started to put his hands on them during his teaching.

Finding the state of least resistance, the appropriate amount of force and pressure, easiness and an uninterrupted flow of energy, are elements we look for in our movement and activities. This applies to our thinking, internal movements and actions as they relate to our environment. Remember the lack of resistance doesn’t mean to collapse or become limp like a noodle. We need to have the appropriate amount of tone to accomplish our activities. The issue is that most of us use too much force and pressure pursing a direction that isn’t helpful. Thus, we miss the feeling of throughness which allows for amazing freedom of movement, flow, and direction.

The concept of “release into the direction” could also be “release into the throughness.”

As you move through your day, discover your throughness by thinking of your body as a whole and allowing for less resistance. This is undoing and non-doing. The directions will support you. 

 

Friday
Feb212014

Head Leading the Body

 

 

Here are some great images of the head leading from the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Follow the head and see how the body follows. These are amazing images. 
Enjoy!
Wednesday
Feb122014

Voice and Inhibition

 

The concept of inhibition is central to the Alexander work. Changing and undoing one’s habitual pattern and response to a thought or action requires that one stops performing the habitual pattern or response so something else can happen. This is the process of inhibition.  

I often say that one has to be “in front” of an action. Thinking and noticing how you respond prior to initiating an action builds the awareness one needs to change the habit. Then one can notice what happens when one first has the thought to do an action. Eventually, one can find ease BEFORE the thought even comes.

You can apply this principle to our voice work with the following process.

One way to work on your voice is to apply Alexander’s idea of inhibition very directly to how you speak or sing.

Step 1: Find your best use in silence, allowing your breath to move in and out without resistance. Let your tongue go much as possible, so the tip of your tongue touches the back of the lower teeth and the back of your tongue is high and wide near the back molars.

Step 2: Begin to say something (start with one word that doesn’t have any particular meaning to you). Go right up to the moment of phonation. And then… 

Step 3: Pause and notice any tension that may have accumulated in any part of your body (especially your head, neck, tongue and jaw).

Step 4: Let the tension go out the top of your head and flow into the space all around you. In other words, release into your directions of lengthening and widening.

Step 5: Repeat this activity letting go earlier and earlier in the process of phonation. As you notice any tension building up, release it into your length and width.

Stay with easy words until you can have the thought to speak and arrive at the moment of phonation without any tension.

Step 6: Then you can start adding words with meaning and content. Go though the same process until you can speak or sing without any excess tension. (Remember letting go does not mean becoming a puddle or collapsing.  You are releasing into your 3-dimensionsal directions.)

Working with this process alone will help you notice what you do when you begin to interact with people in a real conversation or with musical entrances, when you have to come in at a particular moment in the musical score.

More to come…