From my understanding… the Alexander Technique concepts work on making small improvements in posture by becoming self-aware of the body.
The technique teaches awareness of tension held in the body and unbalanced ways you are holding your body without your realizing this is causing stress and discomfort. With awareness (mindfulness) you make conscious efforts to make changes of how you hold and carry your body. F.M. Alexander coined the term “constructive conscious control” for the mental awareness and focus used to change the body.
Small changes over time will lead to results to build upon. Even small changes are difficult to achieve if you don’t have good control over the body due to health issues, but small increments will achieve results. Progress cannot be forced or rushed. Through repeated small efforts we change the habit of how our body holds itself and moves. The changes will feel unusual at first, but with practice will become the more natural way of moving. This more natural movement will lower tension and stress and discomfort carried within the body.
If we are in better alignment within our body, then we are more free in movement, relaxed and at ease. We can have a more focused and peaceful mind. The mind can then be more able to help keep the body in proper form. This becomes a feedback loop between mind and body.
Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Mindfulness Meditation seem ideal for helping to become stronger and more flexible and balanced in the body, as well as to become more mentally focused.
These same concepts also apply to how we can help a horse make small changes to their body and their movement so they can travel more freely, comfortably and able to carry a rider’s weight easier.
I have built up a library of books. These include both of Sally Swift’s books on Centered Riding. If I was going to do lessons or clinics, then a Centered Riding instructor would be on my list.
I’m inspired by Sally Swift. She used body awareness and learning how to change her body to work through a physical disability (scoliosis) using “The Alexander Technique”.
Sally Swift Bio: http://www.centeredriding.org/default.asp?pageid=10021
“At seven years old, a scoliosis appeared which became part of her daily life and was later instrumental in her development of Centered Riding. After the diagnosis and well into her twenties, she worked with Mabel Ellsworth Todd, author of The Thinking Body. Mable Todd was Sally’s first teacher in “body awareness” and encouraged Sally to explore her new “awareness”. This early training was enhanced when Sally began, and continued, to study the Alexander Technique™ and applied it to riding. Sally’s work with the Alexander Technique™ enabled her to discard the back brace she had worn for many years. “
Good review of Sally Swift’s Centered Riding method with the Alexander Technique concepts.
“One of the key concepts in the Alexander Technique is that use informs function, that is, how you do something affects the result. This idea is made even more apparent when you put a rider on a horse. Every little thing a rider does (all the ways she uses her self) affects the horse.”
Centered Riding by Sally Swift (published 1985)
Centered Riding 2: Further Exploration by Sally Swift (published 2002)
Improve flexibility, strength, and balance.
– Stretching postures as tricks (clicker training method)
– Lunging and in-hand ground work program
- Dancing with Horses: The Art of Body Language
by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling
- Connect with Your Horse from the Ground Up
by Peggy Cummings with Bobbie Jo Lieberman
- Horse Training In-Hand: A Modern Guide to Working from the Ground
by Ellen Schuthof-Lesmeister & Kip Mistral
- Lunging program (attempting to translate from German using Google Translate)
This is an article about the program.
– Equine Fitness program of stretching / massage
- Equine Fitness by Jec Aristotle Ballou
- Beyond Horse Massage by Jim Masterson with Stefanie Reinhold
- TTEAM from Linda Tellington Jones
I’ll be posting links to available videos that have examples of the exercises for myself and my horses. Will be discussing from my personal library of DVDs, books and magazines.
Improve stamina & aerobic conditioning.
- Horse hiking
- Riding at a walk (even 4 beat gait while build up strength)