I grew up thinking that our body peaks around 20-25 years old, and then starts a steady, if not rapid, decline. Our joints hurt, we lose strength, our backs just ‘go out’, etc.
“Getting old is hell,” one senior relative told me.
When my back pain started in my mid-20s, and then became excruciating, I thought he was right and mine was just starting early. Fortunately, I found the Alexander Technique (AT).
I remember relaying this belief to my first AT teacher, who told me that he could do more at fifty then he could at twenty. I of course didn’t believe him, but after experiencing my back pain subside over several months, I began to open my mind.
Several years later, I was able to resume the activities such as athletics and dance that I had stopped. At first, it was incredible to just be able to perform the activities without pain. But then I was blown away about how AT greatly improved the quality of what I was doing, accelerated my progress and elevated my enjoyment.
Now, at forty-two, Alexander has become a way of life and improving my use has become inevitable.
I’m not saying that the body is immune from injuries, sickness or deteriorate in some ways. But once we learn how our body is designed and how it works, we can improve our ‘use’ of it everyday. Every activity (and many are repetitive) becomes an opportunity to increase our agility, flexibility and strength.
I see so many people who are suffering, not because they are getting older, but because they have forgotten how to use their bodies, themselves. It’s not their fault; no one was handed an owner’s manual. Yet, that’s what I often see AT as, an owner’s manual. It’s not something superimposed on the body; it’s a way to dust off the exquisite operating system that we were born with and used joyfully as kids.
Case in point: I remember dreading the 2 hour trip between Los Angeles and San Diego that I had to make once a week in my 20s. This week, I returned from a 20 hour trip to Argentina (with our two kids, no less) and I felt fine. In fact, I taught two hours after arriving at LAX.
Recently, I spoke with my first teacher, who is now in his early 60s, on the phone. He excitedly told me that he had discovered so many new things since we had last seen each other 10 years ago. He was eager to share with what he had uncovered and how he was using that in his practice.
Now that’s something to look forward to!