~ I am often faced with the reality that people find me late in the game. Meaning, they could have prevented so many of their issues had they found my work earlier in their life. It’s left me wondering what would have happened to all these thirty somethings with tight backs, baby boomers with kyphosis and old folks with ribs resting on their pelvic girdles, if I had worked with them as children? F.M. Alexander dreamed his work would be done with kids. I got a chance to teach kids about how to keep their spines happy at Fairview-Clifton German Language School. My collegues Jennifer Roig-Francoli and David Nesmith helped out with this endeavor, helping to manage all the different age groups and difficulty of getting their attention. The kids were truly inspiring in that they got a lot out of a 15 minute demonstrations. I’d like to share a little bit of what we shared with them.
I truly hope some of it sticks and I hope they remember The Alexander Technique when they are older. First of all, children have no idea what the word posture means just as most of the adults around them don’t know how to help them achieve good posture. The definition of posture :
Noun: A position of a person’s body when standing or sitting: “good posture will protect the spine.”
Verb: An attitude, a pose assumed : “an attitude of angry defiance.”
What we helped the children discover was that posture was a physical and mental state of being and that school was a very difficult place to maintain good posture. What does a ‘bored spine’ look like and how does your mental state affect your posture? These were questions the children enjoyed answering. The children enjoyed looking at a model spine with pelvis and seeing that their spine was moveable and had curves and was not stick straight. They enjoyed learning the difference between sitting on their sitz bones and on the poor little tailbones. We discovered that sometimes they were able to sit well if they were on the floor or in a chair that suited them. We told them that sometimes the conditions were such that they could not sit well. We tried a myriad of diffent techniques to help them in chairs that were made for adults. We found it impossible to help them if the chair was made for an adult. There was no way for them to sit well. Unfortunately, parents don’t know this and the children are often blamed for their bad posture. It’s a bit frustrating, but I agree it’s a “first world problem,” at least they are getting an education. However, more and more adults do suffer from very preventable back pain (as well as children). In my opinion it would be prudent to use preventable measures rather than wait for the need for surgury, expensive treatments, time off work, and let’s not forget pain medications.
All in all, I had a wonderful time working with the kids. Although, I wish I had been able to talk to more of the adults. The parents, the educators, the coaches, these are the ones who can make a diffence to these children if they could recognize the environment and make sure that they are not contributing to the problems our species faces in order to be upright!