Penny’s 13 tips on applying The Alexander Technique
1. Be aware of your body and your breath.
If you are holding either, choose to release it and trust that it can change. Are you working with your breathing mechanism? The air needs to flow freely in and out of the body, and this means there is movement through the whole torso (front and back), right down to the pelvic floor.
2. Have an intention to be present with each moment.
Change comes by thinking positively about how you would like to be. You cannot do The Alexander Technique – you just think it. Perhaps think of bringing change by directing or redirecting energy in your body.
3. I have time.
Say these words often, especially if you are feeling rushed. It allows space for something different to happen and for the right thoughts to come.
4. All of me.
Run your hands over your feet, up your body and into the air saying, ‘All of me,’ as you go. It reminds you of the connection in your body and rebalances the body and mind.
5. Allow the head to balance freely on top of the spine.
This gives a coordination through your whole body. The top of the spine is between your ears. If you put your fingers in your ears and imagine them meeting in the middle of your head, that is where the top of the spine and the skull meet.
Think about the weight of your head balancing on your spine, travelling down to your pelvis, through your legs and feet, and into the ground. It can then bounce back up through your whole body, from your feet to the top of your head.
6. Allow your spine to have buoyancy.
Your spine is like a spring; if it receives head in balance, there’s an immediate sense of the ‘up’.
7. Allow the weight of your body to move into the earth.
Evenly balance your weight between your heels and the balls of your feet.
If it helps, think about the front of the ribs being in front of the front of the pelvis. Now stand on your legs and let the weight of your body flow through the soles of your feet, into the earth. You can then imagine the earth pressing back onto your feet and sending your weight all the way up through the top of your head.
8. Are your knees soft?
If you realise your knees are locked think about the head leading, and gently release the knees.
9. Think in useful images.
Sending the thought of an image will give a much more immediate response than trying to remember all of the directions of Alexander Technique. Experiment with different images until you find one that works for you.
It might be useful to think of an animal for yourself. Allow the thought of its ears, tail, breath and gaze to invite change.
10. Have the intention to be present with each moment.
Checking on your use puts you in the past, while trying to get something right puts you in the future. Having a happy thought about your intention allows you to stay in each moment and kindly invite change.
11. Expand your back.
Your back is in the back half of your body, and there’s lots of space between the front of your spine and your front ribs. This is a really useful thought to include in your daily semisupine.
12. Say yes to everything.
Invite every activity you do to be one of enjoyment and have fun. Most of us look at the negative, there is no space to allow change if your thoughts are negative.
13. Remember your daily semisupine.
Lie on your back for ten minutes every day with you head on a book supporting the bony bump at the back of the head, (the height of the books varies from person to person), bend your legs so that the knees are balanced between your feet and your hips.
The arms should be placed with the elbows on the floor and the palms of the hands across the midriff. Think about the connections in your body, be as clear with your body mapping as you can be, this is called Semi Supine.
You are not learning to relax with the Alexander Technique, you are learning to distribute energy.
The Alexander Technique can help give your work an energy that is elevated and big, and it is this energy that makes connecting with an audience possible because it comes from a connection from your whole body.
“Performing for me is about connecting, with myself as well as the world around. In every lesson with Penny I am reminded that favourable posture is achieved effortlessly, as our bodies have the wisdom. However at times we need the guidance of a skilled teacher to be reminded how simple it can be.
At first I easily suffered the loss of the optimal posture achieved during the lessons. Now I return to it with a thought.
Every performer will benefit with Penny in their lives.”
— Kiment Poposki
“I have been working closely with Penny for the last 3 years on the Alexander Technique. We first encountered each other in an 8 week term class at 16th Street Actor’s Studio. From the moment we met I was captivated by her welcoming energy. She has allowed me to open up an incredible awareness of my body and mind, and has sparked a phenomenal interest in the Alexander Technique. We continued to work together through the Full Time Program at 16th Street. Upon completion we have worked together on an almost weekly basis to explore multiple characters, animals and energy flows.
Penny’s depth of knowledge and continued exploration of how we as humans and animals work, means that no one session is ever the same. We have, of course, our favourite exercises. However she is always learning and growing. It is this perspective in the sessions too, that allows us to be open to making new discoveries as we progress. I have never met anyone quite like Penny, her intuition and sense of energy is second to none. It is this coupled with her undying positivity that makes her such an inspiring teacher and practitioner. I could not recommend her highly enough. ”
— Ross Dwyer (Actor)