Lessons in Body Mapping and Alexander Technique
May 3, 2011
A few months ago I began studies in Body Mapping with specialist Vanessa Mulvey. Body Mapping trains musicians how to move more accurately and efficiently, through a clear understanding of the body and how it is designed. Using the “What Every Flutist/Singer/Violinist, etc. Needs to Know About the Body” books and other supplemental materials, I’ve been discovering how little I really knew about my body. If we have misunderstandings (or mis-mappings) about our body, then our chances of misusing our body and causing injury increases. For example, how many joints does your thumb have? Or how many curves does your spine have?* Without understanding the design of our bodies, we could be using movement that is inefficient and possibly unproductive, and limiting our ability to move freely.
Body Mapping is grounded in the Alexander Technique, which aims to improve ease, flexibility, balance and support in movement. I’ve been fortunate to get to know Alexander Technique teacher Barbara Hois who is based in Pittsburgh, and yesterday I met with her for our first lesson. We spent a great deal thinking about kinesthesia, which is awareness of the body and how it moves. We sat for a while with our palms upright, resting on our legs in a sitting position. I was asked to think about the tips of my fingers, then the first joint, the second joint, the third joint, the whole finger, the palm, the whole hand. I experienced an amazing sensation of my hands being enormous, and bloated and much larger than they really were. When asked to walk, my arms felt they were hanging down to my feet. After some more guidance, I began feeling my whole body heavy and grounded, and more balanced. The guidance she provides is similar to massage in some ways. While standing she would allow me to feel the weight and balance of different areas of my body as she pushed gently or guided parts of my body to be more free. The lesson really brought together my growing knowledge from my body mapping studies with a deepening awareness of how I hold and carry my body.
Said another way, through Body Mapping I’m getting the nuts and bolts about how my body works functionally, and the AT seems to be giving me the chance to apply the knowledge I’m gaining from Body Mapping. The two together are providing wonderful insights and I’ll continue to write here about them.
Alexander Technique-focused blog: http://habitandchoice.com/blog/
Andover Educators (Body Mapping) website: http://bodymap.org/main/
Andover Educators Conference (June, in NJ): http://bodymap.org/conference/wordpress/
Let me know if you have another related link to share with others, or if you have some experiences with body mapping or alexander technique that you think will be valuable to others!