In her 2007 TED talk author Isabel Allende recounts a TV interview with Sofia Loren. When the interviewer had asked Sofia: “How could you look so good?” Sofia had replied: “Posture! My back is always straight. And I don’t make old people noises.”
You know that eating a healthy diet and getting adequate exercise are the two primary areas where you can make a positive impact on your health and well-being.
But what’s missing here?
Exactly what Sofia says: Posture. Or more accurately, Use.
Your Use is more than just your Posture. It is how you support and coordinate yourself at any moment, whether in movement or at rest. Your Use is influenced by your thinking and your emotions. How you react to things also plays a big role in your Use. You can think of your Use as how you do what you do, but in a very broad sense.
The foundational principle of the Alexander Technique is that how you use yourself affects how you function. By extension, misuse can cause malfunction. It is often how we do an activity that creates problems, not the activity itself. Study of the Alexander Technique is a study of the Use of the Self.
You go to a nutritionist to get help establishing a healthy diet.
You go to a personal trainer to get help establishing an exercise routine.
You go to an Alexander teacher to learn how to change restrictive habits of Use.
All three of these professionals are what I would call coaches. They teach and support you in learning and incorporating new routines, habits and skills into your lifestyle.
But these coaches don’t do those things for you. You have to want it enough for yourself to implement the changes. They guide and support you along your journey.
Just as making changes to diet and exercise can help immensely to manage health conditions—diabetes and joint pain for example—becoming more aware of how you do things and learning how to use yourself better in daily activities can help immensely with a lot of chronic aches and pains, poor breathing and stress.
Here’s to a happy and healthy start to 2016! And try not to make any old people noises.