Give your weight and Earth will carry you,
Receive support from the ground
And let it reach from your feet to head, fingers…
And to your depth.
Enlivened and responsive.
Earth our constant connection
Our perpetual relationship.
Photo entitled: “Listen I am dancing underneath you”
The words from the song ‘Twisted Hair’ by Robbie Robertson & The Red Road Ensemble.
Take to the Floor
Constructive Rest is a name given to lying in semi-supine. Its purpose is to accept the support of the ground with the intention of benefit to our structural selves, our thinking body.
It is used by Alexander Technique and other mind body practices.
From an AT perspective it gives us time to pause and notice the effects our day is having on us: the pulls, the holding, the tightening, the busy thoughts i.e. becoming smaller, compressed and inflexible. Pausing gives us the opportunity to notice and come to quiet. As we become quieter in our neck and shoulders, they undo; when quieter in our lower back and hip joints, they release. The floor facilitates this because it offers our body support, especially when we lie down.
We have the opportunity to release the day and invite space into ourselves.
From the quietening body, directional thought can invite space between head and pelvis, knees and hips, front and back, right side and left side. This encourages a healthier relationship and co-ordination between all our moving parts. By redirecting our thought and intention we create a different attitude – an integrity of thought and action.
Coming into standing we move through creeping, crawling, squatting; leading, as with other vertebrates, with our heads. We take the benefits from being on the floor and draw the support through our spine, torso and ‘fore’ limbs as they leave direct contact with the ground. The ground becomes a constructive collaborator in our day with frequent floor contact through our feet, while informing our torso and arms. Our head together with the senses it houses, organises and informs us about our environment. It helps us to maintain the dynamic nature of our spine and the integrative function of our torso, if, as with our four legged ancestors, we allow it to release out from the top of our spine.
The practice of semi-supine together with pausing and directional thought is integral to AT and is continually practised by teachers, their students and pupils.
The Dart Procedures
A Journey of Self-Exploration
Raymond Dart (1893 – 1988) was an anthropologist, neuro-anatomist, doctor and educationalist. His book ‘Adventures with the Missing Link’ examines the possible link between apes and humans.
He took AT lessons with Irene Tasker (who was taught by and was an assistant to F M Alexander) in South Africa and continued to explore the Technique by himself and write a series of papers on his discoveries.
Included in these papers he considers patterns of musculature which attach from the skull and travel through the body in a double spiral arrangement, and the jaw’s relationship to the head and the rest of the body. He developed positions of exploration which were later placed into a sequence with the help of two AT teachers, Joan and Alex Murray. This sequence traces developmental and evolutionary patterns between lying and upright.
Creative use of the Dart sequence encourages awareness of patterns of movement and helps undo unnecessary interference allowing movement to become easier.
The unexpected joy of exploring these movements is the reconnection to our evolutionary thread, our lineage through fish, amphibian, reptile and mammal. It draws us nearer to other species and gives us a deeper appreciation of our design.
I was fortunate that my AT training course was run by Robin Simmons and that Jean Clark was one of the teachers. Both practised and were enthusiasts of Dart’s work. I continue to work with Robin on a weekly basis, learning from his many years of exploration with these movements. I integrate and continue to experiment with the Dart Procedures in my individual AT lessons as well as in my PMP (Progressive Movement Practice) classes.
The video below give an illustration of how this works in practice in my AT Lessons.