Alexander Technique and Equestrians – Spotlight #2: Habit & Choice

Alexander Technique introduces the concept of allowing rather than forcing our bodies to do the things we want to do. The concept of allowing means removing obstacles to poise, elegance and ease, rather than applying more physical effort.

In an Alexander lesson, the path to effortless poise starts when your teacher helps you recognize a habitual pattern, such as raising your shoulders any time you move your arm. This habit could be so ingrained that you don’t even realize it’s part of a more complex stress response called “fight or flight”.

Your teacher helps your pin down your habit so you can do something about it. “Name and tame, if you will.”

But How Do You Change an Ingrained Habit?

It’s not easy but it is simple.

The tools for change help you “get our of your own way”. FM Alexander put it like this“stop doing the wrong thing let the right thing do itself”.

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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.

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How not to indulge in panic

window of a red pickup truckI have a confession to make

Even though my life’s work is teaching equestrians solutions to stress and tension with the Alexander Technique, a couple of weeks ago I totally lost my cool and wound up picking up the pieces — literally.

I’m fairly new to the Portland area, so networking with riders, riding instructors and other practitioners is high on my priority list.

One of my new contacts invited me to have an Alexander Technique lesson with her teacher who was visiting from New Mexico. So of course, I jumped at the opportunity to meet my new contact in person, expand my network and have an Alexander lesson myself.

But perhaps even more than that, I wanted them to “like me, really like me” (as Sally Field said in her Oscar speech), and respect me without even knowing me.

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What is pain costing you?

Sand slipping through an hourglassAs Sofia on The Golden Girls used to say, “Picture this…” A woman lying on the sofa, clearly in pain. She’d love to meet her friends for a coffee or go riding, but all she can do is endure, try to protect the area that hurts, and put off all those fun things she loves to do.

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How to Undo Your Constant Stress — Hint: Don’t Get Startled

5 Tips for Undoing the Startle Reflex:As you’re reading this, you might be hunched at the computer and noticing a strain in your neck, back or shoulders.

  • Are your shoulders creeping up toward your ears when your hands are on the keyboard?
  • Do you have a turtle-neck (chin jutting forward, head tilting back) from staring at the screen?

Both of these are signs of the startle reflex, also called the “fight or flight” reflex. This reflex comes into play naturally when we are in danger or afraid.

Our shoulders come up, our head tilts back, and cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline are released. This increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and dilates air passages so we are able to fight or run.

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Suppleness for Horseback Riders Can’t Be Taught – Or Can it?

Suppleness for RidersWelcome to The Supple Rider Blog! This is my first post and I look forward to connecting with you and hearing your comments.

We all know that suppleness is one of the basic principles of classical riding as it applies to the horse.

But what can suppleness mean for a rider?

Dictionary Definition of Suppleness 1

Easy and fluent without stiffness or awkwardness.

Dictionary Definition of Suppleness 2

The gracefulness and beautiful carriage that is pliant and flexible.

These two definitions are no-brainers. We all want ease and grace … But how do we achieve it? This brings up more questions than answers. (Or the answers are negative tapes playing in our heads.)

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