Alexander Technique and Equestrians – Spotlight #1: Force vs. Allowing

According to Erik Herbermann in the April 2012 issue of USDF Connection, “Few things sabotage our endeavors to achieve harmony with the horse and to elicit his willing participation more than force…”

The dictionary says force is “compelling, constraining, or obliging (oneself or someone) to do something” or “driving or propelling against resistance.”

When Force Doesn’t Work Anymore

The use of mental or physical force implies a fixed mental attitude “It’s my way or the highway” and a rigid physical attitude “I have to make this horse go”.

If you have a fixed mental attitude with your horse, it’s likely you have a similar attitude regarding yourself.

You might not even be conscious that your attitudes are boxing you in or that they’re contributing to tension in your body.

If you’re struggling with muscle tension that keeps your skill level at a plateau or chronic back, neck, arm or leg pain that impacts your pleasure in riding and daily life, keep reading because there’s no way pain and tension have to rule your riding or your life.

You can learn to allow an attitude of cooperation between your own mind and body that will positively impact:

  • Your relationship with your horse
  • Your reaction to muscular tension and pain, so you can lessen or eliminate it

Start Allowing the Flow of Ease and Coordination

Alexander Technique is a unique method of using the mind and body to recognize totally unnecessary habits of muscle tension, and release them easily, before they have the chance to contribute to pain.

These habits build up gradually over the years, and put the brakes on your natural poise, grace and flow within yourself and with your horse. With an instructor’s help, you can unlearn the old habits.

Then you can use your new consciousness to remind yourself that other choices are available which don’t involve tension and pain. You begin allowing your body to reclaim its natural poise, rather than forcing it.

No Movement Happens in Isolation

Have you ever wondered why it’s sometimes hard to coordinate the top half of your body independent of the bottom half, for instance? Because when one set of muscles tenses up, it affects all the others. You don’t have to be a slave to tension though.

An Alexander teacher uses gentle listening hands that link to your nervous system and help calm down your automatic tension response that kicks in when you’re under mental stress.

Once your muscles are no longer on high alert, your teacher can guide you to find balance with your head, neck and back. Your head becomes poised and balanced, your back becomes supple and springy, and your limbs release.

Pain and Tension are a Vicious Cycle

When you have pain, it becomes difficult if not impossible to move freely, and the more you hurt, the more you tense away from the pain. The cycle repeats and your pain gets worse. Your Alexander teacher helps you stop the vicious cycle of pain by helping you realize where you tense up in response to it.

Stay Active at Any Age

Mid-life doesn’t have to be the cue for your health to start falling apart. If you’ve always been active but are starting to notice aches and pains, you can do something about it. But doing something doesn’t have to mean forcing yourself to work harder, push through pain, or do more exercises. Using Alexander Technique to allow freedom and ease will serve you for decades to come.

About Emily Clark

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website or blog. Just make sure to include the bio and link below at the end of the article.

Emily Clark, of TheSuppleRider.com, is an Alexander Technique Certified Instructor who teaches horseback riders of all disciplines to eliminate pain and improve their posture so they can ride as one every ride.

She’s worked with equestrians for over 11 years. She loves working with riders because they’re so passionate about what they do.

Comments & Feedback:

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