There’s been a flurry of attention about the health dangers of sitting all day, with some scientists advocating for office workers to ditch their chairs. Well, what if not only sitting is problematic, but standing is, too?
We may think we carry ourselves in the most efficient manner, but for many of us — especially those (like myself) with poor posture, foot pain, bad knees or backs — we might be able to learn something from a 100-year-old method known as the Alexander Technique. Created by Australian actor F.M. Alexander, he self-corrected his chronic laryngitis by changing how he held his neck and body.
“He saw how deep the habit was and how far back you have to go to change habit,” said Jane Tomkiewicz, a New York-based Alexander Technique teacher for 20 years. She started learning it when she was a performance artist in the East Village with a knee injury. It’s still more popular among actors and dancers than among the mainstream, but Tomkiewicz noted scientific studies examining its benefits for people with Parkinson’s disease and asthma.
Tomkiewicz had me imagine a light shining vertically out the top of my head, pulling me up, and another one shining horizontally from my waist pointing behind me, while feeling my body’s weight move out of my feet. I felt off-kilter, but when I checked myself in the mirror next to me, I was a picture of good posture. As I’ve practiced, I’ve noticed a big difference in my posture and breathing.
“People think of posture as stiff and holding,” Tomkiewicz said. “Talk about a hard PR campaign. Posture can be fun and dynamic.”