Walking the Alexander Way

by Amy Ward Brimmer

256px-Delaware_Canal_State_Park-PennsylvaniaI have once again started a daily walk for exercise.  I am rediscovering how authentically enjoyable this is. When I hear voices of resistance trying to stop me from cultivating this discipline, I try to remember that. It feels really good to get out there, even on a hot and sticky day in the Delaware Valley, even when I’d rather take a nap or watch TV, even when I feel sore from too much yoga or gardening or housework (people who know me are snickering right now: “when does Amy do housework?”).

Nearly every day I’m able to find pleasure in briskly walking two or more miles, and it’s because I know the Alexander Technique.  My understanding of how to walk well means I am free to notice the power and energy I produce, and the beautiful scenery I encounter, and the other people who are out there trying to get and stay healthy, too.  Applying the Alexander Technique gives me the freedom to let my legs move my torso along, to let my neck be free of tension so my head can bob along in balance as I move.  It means I can breathe easily and powerfully, with awareness of my back and what is behind me.  I can extend gratitude to my feet, which do so much for me all day long.

Walking the Alexander way means I can notice where I feel twinges of discomfort (my right hip and sacroiliac, usually), and I can include that in my total experience, allowing it to be however it is. Then maybe I can choose not to pull down or twist there quite as much, and perhaps I might notice a little less sensation in that body part. It means I can lighten up on myself, including that habit of telling myself I “shouldn’t” have these twinges.

I can walk with pleasure and ease because studying the Alexander way has taught me to move mindfully through life. So the best part of my walking is that it translates into the rest of my day. Moving from my car through a parking lot into a store, I remember to include my whole rib cage. Dragging my trash cans up the driveway to the back of the house, I choose not to twist or drag my hips along.  Walking up the stairs for the umpteenth time, I feel grateful for the lovely, level canal path that runs through my little river town.

Here is an interview I did last year, around the time I was doing a state-wide walk with Earth Quaker Action Team.  It’s a little long, but I do share some pretty useful tips about how to walk with power and safety.

How do you walk?  What habits do you notice?  The next time you walk somewhere, anywhere — pause.  Slow down a  little bit, and watch your way of moving.  If you don’t enjoy walking, maybe you’d like to learn the Alexander way.

***

Amy Ward Brimmer is an Alexander Technique teacher in Philadelphia and Yardley, Pennsylvania.  This article originally appeared in her blog.