26 Jul Continuation of Parkinson’s and The Alexander Technique
Speaking at the Parkinson’s Network of Mt. Diablo this past Saturday was invigorating. We expected anywhere from 80-100 people, and the turnout ended up being 130+! Many of the caregivers and people living with Parkinson’s quickly understood that although they may not have as much control over their body as they would like, they have the potential to have so much more!
Here is a 1 minute video of the workshop:
Here is the full 30 minute video of the workshop if you want to feel like you were actually there in person:
Skills learned at the workshop were:
1) Softening the Neck
2) Whispered ‘Ah’
3) Sitting well on the Sit-bones
2 Questions asked by Caregivers/People Living with PD
Some really great questions were asked at the Conference. Here are two that I think are really pertinent to those dealing with Parkinson’s.
My husband’s feet are numb, and he has a spinal fusion. Will he be able to do Alexander Technique? Will it help him?
This is a great question, and I can understand someone’s doubt about whether or not anything can be done. The answer is: Yes. Anyone can practice the Alexander Technique–Even if they can’t feel their feet, and even if their spine is fused. The Technique is based on principles of undoing unnecessary tension. When you undo this old habitual tension, something very magical feeling happens–the body unlocks. Breath comes in and out easier. You feel lighter. Your brain is able to communicate with the rest of your body much easier because there isn’t so much traffic between. I have taught the Technique to people who cannot leave their bed–and they still had great relief and were able to rest easier and breathe easier. I have worked on a student with clubbed feet. He could still think down into the ground when he was walking and sitting. He came to me in a wheelchair, and now walks (sometimes with a walker, sometimes without) depending on the day. Even when a fusion has taken place, there are places along the spine that are often working harder than necessary. So, Yes, Yes!
I have been telling my husband to walk heel to toe so he won’t fall, but he keeps walking on his toes! Should I tell him every time he is doing it?
Light fluid movement can be very difficult to explain, and a bit complicated without actual physical experience–but I am going to give it a go. I disagree with the old adage of walking from heel to toe. For people with or without Parkinson’s, but especially with, walking this way tends to stall them, which in turn, makes them more likely to be out of balance and then fall and hurt themselves. Instead of leading from the feet at all, the highest point of the head should lead. The rest of the body should follow. All healthy vertebrae in the animal kingdom, do this quite naturally–as do human children. We start to lose our ability because of poorly learned habits around the age of 5/6 (when we start sitting in chairs at desks at school). When you are leading from the head, and just allowing your legs to fall out of your hips, the whole foot will make contact with the ground. You will feel very light, almost like an imaginary rope is walking you. Many of my students say they feel like a kid again, or a puppet. It feels strange to feel so light and free–but oh so marvelous!
I was so lucky that 16 of my colleagues joined me to put hands-on. This event could not have been a success without them.
The Teachers who showed up, who I would like to give a HUGE shout-out to are: (in alphabetical order)
Also! Thank you to the Trainees, Steven Bollhoefer, Natasha Chacon, Emily Esner, and Don Tuttle who came to help as well! Bett Bollhoefer also deserves a special shoot-out for being an impromptu videographer and photographer–and just all around supportive awesome person. If you live in the Bay Area, and you need to find a teacher who will show up for you–these are some great ones…
Please send me your questions! Feel free to comment below, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org