BENGALURU: We walk into a room filled with messages and demonstrations of Alexander Technique (a psychophysical method that helps you become self-aware and improves your health) and are welcomed by the facilitator Robin John Simmons. The most striking thing about his posture is how upright his back is.
Posture is important in
Alexander Technique, which was developed by F Matthias Alexander in 1894. Simmons gives an example of someone who sits with their right foot locked into left one, as opposed to in contact with the floor.
This way, he says, a person isn’t even aware of the way they are sitting, and he goes on to call them ‘classic cases of not being self-aware’.
Simmons points out to his blackboard and says the principle is simple: “The way you use your body affects its functioning. Look at the way you sit.
When you are slouching, your abdomen is compressed and this affects your breathing,”
He claims the method can help restore proper breathing and improve well-being. “Doctors send their patients to us when they don’t know the cause of the pain. Alexander Technique helps release tension in your body and reduce pain,” he says. Simmons adds that it is better to prevent health issues by practising the technique than to practice it later to cure health issues. “People in their 20s can start learning it. That’s the best age as they can understand it better. When I work with Montessori schools, I hold sessions with teachers so that the children can follow them,” he says, adding that his oldest student at his studio in Zurich is a 92-year-old woman.
Simmons was introduced to the technique by his teacher in 1968 and has been practising it since then. He was trained by Walter Carrington, who succeeded Alexander as a teacher-trainer after he died in 1955. Alexander was an actor and had breathing troubles. “Doctors couldn’t find the reason for this, so Alexander decided to find it himself.
He realised he was doing movements without realising them, he would move his head and neck back while delivering dialogues and wasn’t feeling them. He realised that the sensations in his body are unreliable and hence he decided to restore its reliability. That’s how he developed the technique,” Simmons explains.
Many musicians have realised the importance of this technique and take lessons from him. “The musicians I taught in England understood the difference in their work after the lessons. Earlier, they had to put in more effort to hold their instruments. With this technique now, they can release the extra tension in their bodies by lifting their shoulders up, while holding the instrument,” he says. The technique also improves breathing, circulation and digestion, he adds.
Robin John Simmons is holding workshops and private lessons at Shoonya Centre for Art and Somatic Practices, Lal Bagh Road.