The water’s a great place to reduce unnecessary tension, to release and expand, to let go.
The Alexander Technique is very useful for people with any kind of difficulty in the water. Swimming problems almost always go back to balance and breathing. We help you become more at home in water by focusing on what’s going on with the coordination of your head, neck and back.
The emphasis on our course can actually be on learning the Alexander Technique instead of learning to swim, if you want it to be. To carry out very basic movements in water, both swimming related and land-based, without swimming up and down, can be transformational.
While the Alexander Technique helps nervous swimmers to find the support of the water, in time, with increased confidence, being in water can help us with our Alexander work.
Learn Not to Swim
“All strenuous exercise will reinforce the existing coordination of the body or the lack of it. The amount of mal-coordination present and the strenuousness of the exercise will determine the good or harm that will result. ” Patrick MacDonald, The Alexander Technique As I See It.
The water’s a great place to reduce unnecessary tension, to release and expand, to let go. But working on swimming technique – the competitive strokes – inevitably moves us away from the realm of non-doing; from just making discoveries about ourselves in water. Whether you’re a non-swimmer or a swimmer, if you’d like to explore the benefits of floating around and working with very simple movements, you’re welcome to learn not to swim!
To explore the Alexander Technique in water, without the pressure of learning to swim, we will need to teach you to breathe so you can enjoy floating and gliding. So long as you can do that, we can focus on doing basic movements well, with lots of stillness, non-doing and direction of energy in between.
Think how you might want to be when visiting a thermal spa instead of swimming up and down in a leisure centre. Also consider what children do when left to their own devices. They spend hours underwater, developing a feel for it through play. It’s never about swimming lengths, until they join a club.
Calm, warm water is an ideal medium to support non-doing work. Competitive strokes may be swum with aesthetically pleasing grace and, for people who are very well balanced and coordinated, swimming can be a great form of exercise. But, out of a belief in the benefits of swimming for exercise which we hear so much about, too many of us swim, and count, lengths with too little awareness of what we’re actually doing. Many recreational and fitness swimmers persistently pull their heads back, gasp for breath and strain their backs.
When it comes to Alexander Technique in water, less is very often more. Because we’re land mammals after all, it may be sensible to question the celebrated benefits of swimming lengths as a main form of exercise. The benefits of floating around and allowing the water to support us, on the other hand, are generally not well enough appreciated.