Teaching Hands


 This post is primarily for teachers of the Alexander Technique, but will give the curious AT student a look into what it is we teachers are up to prior to your arrival in our studio.

I’m remembering a video of Marjorie Barstow, (it’s probably still on u-tube), in which a workshop participant asked how they could prepare for the use of their hands in teaching a lesson.  Marjorie gently clasped her hands together, and then lightly ran the fingers of one hand across those of the other.

In addition, I am utilizing a wonderful ‘warm-up’ practice which I’ve adapted from an exercise found in Dr. Les Fehmi’s book, The Open-Focus Brain:  Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body.  

Dr. Fehmi is director of the Princeton Biofeedback Centre in Princeton, NJ.  He posits that living in a society which is organized around ‘narrow-focus attention’ results in chronic stress and tension.  This stress affects not only our physical selves, but our psychological health.  Fehmi’s book provides exercises to train the mind for a more diffuse form of attention termed ‘Open Focus.’  The following is an adapted portion of a Fehmi attention- training exercise:

Imagine the volume of your thumbs and each of your fingers.  Let the full dimensionality of your fingers and thumbs be forefront in your field of attention.  

Next, imagine the space between your fingers, and the space around your fingers and hands.  Let your hands move with ease in their element of air.

Hands are of no instructional benefit if not connected to the rest of the body.  So….there is also FM’s maxim….’I allow my head to move forward and up, that my spine may lengthen and my torso widen.’  And, I would add…. ‘that my hands may be lively.’  May your teaching day be a good one, dear colleagues.


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