The forthcoming issue Vol 3 No. 9 (Active) contains an insightful look at the work of Steven Shaw. This week he sent me an update on two interesting and exciting developments.
It took the world by storm over the past decade and is still spinning largely out of control into every form of fitness communication. The lack of regulation within the pilates industry triggered a mass spawning of hybrid forms (yogalate? Sounds like a milky coffee after a good asana) that delivers the core message of, well, core is king. So for the Alexander teacher who has stood by watching as many an expert birthed themselves through a weekend course and started a printing press in their studio, it's hard not to hold a dim view of the credibility of someone spruiking the benefits of pilates to health, happiness and evolution.
Jane Staggs trained as an Alexander teacher in 1979 and tested pilates more recently as a worthy adjunct to her already successful practice. Her experience of watching past students swept up in the pilates cure-all sales message suggested that perhaps she could be the expert help instead. Listen to an interview with Jane in the members section(click on the link at left to request logins).
Helge Fisher trained with Shoshana Kaminitz in 1991 and co-wrote the book(Body Control: The Pilates Way) that sparked the pilates firestorm in the UK and now an internationally known brand, BodyControl Pilates. Though Helge left the organisation fairly early in the peace, her experiences in bringing the complicated pilates regime to the masses is a fascinating story.
Learn more about the Pilates/Alexander connections in the new ACTIVE issue, as part of a current subscription. Click on Subscription to learn more.
Without exquisite balance the coordination of a golf swing fails the majority of people. Ironically if you ask a professional golfer what they are actually doing when they swing a club you'll get many different answers and very few are directed at freeing the natural swing motion.
Working with an Alexander teacher on improving your general movement and coordination will contribute immensely to the performance of your swing on the course. Just ask Roy Palmer and Martyn Jones, two Alexander teachers who have been refining the delivery of Alexander's principles to golfers with great success and are featured in the forthcoming issue ACTIVE. (only available with a current subscription)
Most amateur observers of professional expertise will only glean idiosyncracies such as grip, stance or head position. It takes the trained eye of an Alexander teacher to help the golfer uncover their interference with the smooth rotation of the torso and most of this interference can be learned off the course.
Both Roy and Martyn prefer to begin within their teaching studio without a swinging weapon as the self-observation necessary for fundamental change can be refined in simple daily movement. It's not until the student has the ability to prevent their usual spinal compressions that their body is capable of freedom in the swing...but how they capture this change in physiology is the art of teaching Alexander's technique.
Without doubt, billions of hard earned are spent on golf each year and most of it is going into a bottomless pit of no improvement in results or enjoyment. There is a goldmine out there behind those bunkers and Roy Palmer and Martyn Jones are tickling the tip of the iceberg with their work.
Live recordings of our conversations are available in the members section. Click on the link at the left of this page to obtain your logins.
ACTIVE Issue [3.9] our forthcoming journal, looks at the science of critical moment focus. Damien Lafont PhD is a tennis coach and physicist who has photographed hundreds of elite tennis players at the moment of impact. His thesis examines the position of eyes, head and neck a split second after the ball has been hit and his findings are fascinating for the Alexander teacher.
Correlated with the consistent success of a professional player is the intricate placement of their eyes(and attention) at the moment of a shot being made and when I stumbled upon Lafont's work I was taken immediately at the implications that his photography had in terms of linking head/neck/spine coordination of the entire organism. In this micro second of high speed imagery we see the mind-body congruence necessary to repeatedly return accurate shots over the net.
How is Lafont's work relevant to an Alexander teacher working with sporting enthusiasts or elite athletes? I brought two Alexander teachers who teach tennis into the discussion: Gary Adelman a professional tennis player from Columbia University and Alexander trained since 1992 (www.tenniswithouttension.com) and Joe Boland a tennis coach and Alexander teacher(1979).
Listen to a live interview with Gary in the private members section of the website. If you don't have a login, request one here...it's free.
Yes I'm still alive... and will be available as a target for any eggs or rotten tomatoes at the forthcoming Congress. It has been a long, long time since DIRECTION produced a new journal and I'm very sorry for the big gap. The new issue "Active" has been promised for many months and I cannot make any more excuses or promises...simply because I can't possibly make anything else up!
The wait is nearly over for this new issue which will be the first of its kind anywhere in the Alexander publishing world. A selection of articles on the application of Alexander to sporting pursuits, health/fitness and movement by Alexander teachers will open the lid on huge areas of modern society in need of constructive conscious control...and compassion.
Since FM Alexander's day many movement regimes have come and gone to the chagrin of many an Alexander teacher. The principles of balanced and conscious coordination are needed even more today as we are bombarded with "Scientifically" validated exercise physiological remedies to the ills of modern lifestyle choices...and oh, a blinding lack of education in self awareness for all-day, every-day needs.
How does a student/teacher of Alexander navigate this minefield of sales pitches without alienating themselves completely from the very people who need the help?
ACTIVE Issue explores the huge areas of physical pursuit in Golf, Tennis, Pilates, Running, Swimming and Cycling. Working with the mainstream is much more intelligent than posturing on the sidelines as the work passes by. Stay tuned as I dust off this blog and bring more interesting clips from the people who have helped me create this exciting addition to the DIRECTION catalogue.
If you are wondering whether your subscription is still current...please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be sending out address checks soon.
I rarely allocate time for Facebook... simply because it's too easy to get off track and just float away with gossip and who's doing what. However, every now and then I'm just at the right place to stumble across an important update.
Jessica Wolf(The Art of Breathing), a long time friend and mentor in the field of breathing recently completed a kickstarter.com campaign to produce a fully animated working model of the entire torso. This is a stunning production... no expense spared. Watch a 30 second clip via vimeo below.
To purchase the whole 20 minute final product simply visit Amazon Here.
Watching how the ribs expand, the diaphragm flows up and down plus seeing the internal massage of the organs is a surreal experience. Each layer of musculature is gradually added onto the bony foundation so that the viewer can get an idea how it all works in concert. There's even a beautiful rotation of the entire model so that you can watch the underneath view of the diaphragm as it moves!
There is nothing currently available to match this visual description of breathing and it is with a touch of pride I will admit that an Alexander technique teacher has gone to the trouble of making it possible. If every anatomical teaching module within educational institutions around the world don't purchase this beautiful work for their students, they'd be mad. I will be recommending it as essential for any person wanting to see inside the body of an ideal breather... far from the average human in the western world.
FM Alexander's reputation as the breathing man has been resurrected in immense style and clarity. Congratulations Jessica and thankyou on behalf of the Alexander technique community.
If you teach breathing or would like to know the inside workings of natural breathing, you simply must get your own copy.
Thankyou for your generous responses... and they're still arriving daily into my inbox. Malcolm's happy... his running article is now liberated, I'm happy... just hearing from so many lovely people does that, but also I've compiled the three best ideas of the lot.
1. Digital Production to Web
Although producing our magazine to digital was knocked back a few years ago in our survey, it seems that the iPad and Kindle has helped simplify (and beautify) the concept of reading on a screen. Within the next two months Direction Journal will be available on a digital platform as well as paper. Don't worry... paper will always be available too.
2. Student Subscriptions (for students enrolled in an Alexander teacher training course)
Available now $49 Simply provide the contact details of your course director at the checkout.
3. Library Subscription Bonus
The new Library Subscription Bonus gives you 75% off your subscription. If you have baulked at paying $97 for 4 magazines delivered to you in the past, then here is a chance to get a very big discount. Once the library signs up, pay only $24 for your subscription. If you would like us to contact them directly, simply send us the librarian contact details.
Plus one reminder... our Affiliate Program
Launched... some time ago, but hardly mentioned since, the affiliate program rewards you for recommending Direction to others. The commissions are generous and are paid on the initial sale plus any other person referred by your initial contact. We also customise a landing page so people who arrive upon your recommendation feel welcome. There are various ways to earn a commission and you are supplied with a special link to distribute wherever you want. Images and banners are also available for your website, blog, facebook page, twitter... you name it.
There are other ideas such as selling advertising space and linking up with societies, but these are a harder option. I haven't yet found a way to achieve either.
In any case, the Direction community is alive and well. I'm sure a little more conversation on these topics will bring further inspiration. And the new issue is back on track!
The articles for the new Active issue on topics; Tennis, Running, Swimming, Pilates and Golf will be worth the wait.
"A Direction Journal stays in print for many years" I was once reminded. Years of use for students and Alexander teachers alike. When I set out interviewing the most knowledgeable Alexander teachers in their respective fields my excitement grew quickly. Let's change the conversation in the sporting world to include knowledge that Alexander teachers have been using to enhance performance for many decades!
Results are what the end-driven sporting fraternity want. Let's not waste time explaining how the Alexander technique works... a topic that bogs even the best versed teachers down in words that are misinterpreted by the receiver.
"Let me show you" is the reply that's needed when faced with the invitation "what's Alexander technique got to do with my golf swing?"
The articles in this new issue empower Alexander teachers to reach those who want help but don't know where to look.
An extract or two will appear here over the coming weeks to prove there is actually an Active issue written and awaiting layout and print. Thanks for waiting. PC
Just a quick announcement to share Michael Gelb's new book "BRAIN POWER: Improve Your Mind as You Age". It debuts today.
He produced a series of Leonardo Da Vinci inspired books during one of the greatest book/movie/hysteria movements of all time when the popular Dan Brown book The Da Vinci Code took the world by storm. Perfect timing.
Now with Baby Boomers becoming more aware of how retirement affects the mind and with the new attention to neuroplasticity capturing so much attention he's done it again.
"This book presents the most essential, practical, research-validated information on how to improve your mind as you get older.
It includes a section entitled "Balance and Poise: The Missing Links in Healthy Aging" featuring a strong endorsement and description of the Alexander Technique."
"A blueprint to optimize your brain and improve the rest of your life." Daniel G. Amen, MD, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
"You will find, on every page, useful and intriguing knowledge, resources, practices, exercises, and technologies to unleash your brain power and improve your mind as you age. Buy it, read it, live it!" Tony Buzan, author of Use Both Sides of Your Brain
"This book offers an excellent collection of tools to improve your mind and life. I hope everyone will read this wonderful resource, which can help us all to not just survive but thrive." Bernie Siegel, MD, author of 365 Prescriptions for the Soul and A Book of Miracles
Click here to purchase the 248 page paperback at Amazon for only $9.95!!
Most changes at Direction seem to be driven by necessity these days.
I was interviewed by Luke Ford, a recent graduate Alexander teacher in USA and mentioned to him that I would be happy to create a link to the Direction website that calculated traffic from his very busy website.
An "Affiliate" is like a commissioned sales person. Whatever sales that generate from click-throughs from Luke's website I pay a 20% commission. It's an idea that I've wanted to set up for quite a while but just haven't made the time to do so. Also, offering a commission has been criticized in the past as people think that rather than pay someone else 20%, it's better to just reduce prices this same amount for everyone.
But in the new world of social validation, recognizing people for their time spent recommending your products is common practice...perhaps more ethical nowadays than ever before. Due to the large modern social networks which react quickly to non-authentic conversation, a trusted and true comment on the value or benefit of a product/service is worth so much more.
So the good news is that anyone can become a Direction Affiliate! Simply click on the link at the left of the page and apply. You don't have to own a website... but an email address is mandatory. I've created a bunch of different ways you can recommend Direction Journal, from logos to simple text links.
One simple strategy is to put our logo on your website. Another is to mention Direction Journal to people you know via email or a blog post or facebook(to name a few). If people click on your unique link we can then record any purchases they make at our website for up to 12 months! Each month we pay out a minimum of $50AUD via Paypal or you can use the credit to purchase Direction products for yourself.
If you find a way to bring the Direction Journal back catalogue into a library, then 20% of that sale amounts to almost $200. Public Libraries are obligated to pay double the list price of our magazines for copyright clearance (allowing them to reproduce unlimited photocopies of articles and multiple loans etc.). As a student teacher, this could be a good way to supplement your school fees...and publicize Alexander technique at the same time.
I'll make other suggestions as time passes... but for now the top priority for me is to complete the Active Issue (3.9)... something that I've been striving to do since July. The plan is to ship it for Christmas to subscribers. We have an amazing Tennis article, Running, Golf, revolutionary Pilates information, Swimming and Skiing covered. So many physical pursuits in the Alexander world and the potential for so many more.
Look forward to your comments below.