Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? — 17 Comments

  1. Hi imogen,
    happy alexander days.
    I think at the begginning stage of practicing alexander respiratory reeducation technique the dynamic images are very useful compared to static images.
    In one of the vedios barlow clearly told imagining is waste of time.
    May be reasoned imagining is better i think.
    At later stages fm technique is a way of living among the auto pilots.

    To day when iam thinking about breath,
    suddenly i moved my arm and noticed my lattissimus dorsi widened and it made a huge improvement in my breath.
    ‘i got the alexander point’ .

    The breath depends on the physco physical processes.

    When we run the breath changes based on demands.

    The breath is like a indicator of present physco physical state.

    The physco physics of the body breaths.

    Alexander told those who wish to change the breath is to command all those physco physical processes.

    At the beginning stage the images are useful but later stages i think the sensations of the body muscles are important to command the breath.

    • I think you are right – breath is a wonderful indicator for the way your entire organism is functioning. And I love your suggestion of a “dynamic” image rather than a static one – I couldn’t agree more. As always everything is open to personal interpretation, but there are certainly some images that tend to do more harm than good. Thanks, as always, for your comments.

  2. Hi imogen,
    thanks for your comments.

    I think in alexander technique every body part direction counts to help the breath .

    and a little bit of every part of the body and the whole body helps the breath indirectly.

    The strength of the breath increase is cumulative day by day.
    Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. I teach primarily by using the classic Alexander directions and explanations of how movements occur based on anatomy and physiology. But sometimes an image is the thing that helps a student understand direction and relationship. Another teacher who trained with F. M. Alexander, Elizabeth Walker, used this image when speaking of the arms: She said, “Don’t let the arms just hang there like dead fish.” That is an image that certainly got her point across!

  4. start understand the Alexander principle you will find the need for words and images passes. Don’t rely on feelings that’s what started the problems. Use intelligence as a guide.

  5. Hi imogen,
    i understood and realized some of my words in my last comments not makes sense. Iam taking back my words, and believed like,

    1. A static picture is a worth of thousand words.
    2. As well as a dynamic image worth of thousand words.

    As Fm , marjory told,

    ‘there is no right posture, but a right direction is there’ .

    We cant say this is right that is wrong etc.

    I think static or dynamic images are worth in each scenarios and in every scenarios.

    I think Barlow told, ‘static images alone with out dynamic images and imagination leads to Doing and Vice Versa’ .(i dont know exact words what she told).

  6. Hi Imogen. my first teacher Noel Kingsley used images in his teaching as well as the directions, which i found most useful. I also encountered the use of images whlst learning the Shaw Method/Art of Swimming and found it a great benefit in the water.

  7. Imagery, in order to be effective must contain the vital element of movement, a static image does not assist in coordinating movement. Refer to Irene Dowd’s text Taking Root to Fly.

  8. Hi Imogen – I openly and happily admit to using images about 80% of the time; after all these years of teaching I find they bring about a far more genuine release than ‘flat directions’ which can so easily become fake ‘doings’. I think this is because analogies and images by-pass the ‘academic’ brain more readily and consequently become embodied more easily. As long as my hands are on at the time I can tell whether the ‘imagery’ is working or not, and I don’t mind at all what works as long as (a) it does (but not meant in an end-gaining way!) and (b) importantly, the student senses it and makes the connection consciously; the point being that they then have something that works for them away from lessons. I talk about lessons being about ‘filling their vocabulary book’ with things that work for them, and that they can draw on in their day to day life. I ask them to see things in their ‘daily round’ and use them if they take them up. (And to watch out if they take them down!) If champagne bubbles help gentle lengthening right though the whole body, (very effective!), or glass Christmas baubles in the armpits – too delicate both to crush or let slip – then that’s fine by me. I’m intrigued to hear that Marjory Barlow did use images at times; I remember her being very sniffy about them way back, and I was rather alarmed as I liked them! So that’s good news!

    • That’s great Annie, I so appreciate your feedback. It seems to me for some people the “flat directions” just don’t work, and can turn into end-gaining. Much better to use an image that conveys the meaning of the direction in that case. Of course there are also people who don’t respond to images at all and the more traditional directions are perfect! It’s our job as AT teachers to find what is best for any given student. And yes – I was surprised to read that about Marjory Barlow too!!

  9. Hi Imogene – The main reason I was attracted to AT was for its absence of images. There are many practices out there that try to get by on metaphor. I hope AT never becomes one of them. Yes, you can see results sometimes — but isn’t that just another form of end- gaining?

    • I don’t think AT will ever try and “get by on metaphor.” However I do think, as a teacher, it is my job to help my student think in ways that help him/her best. Everyone is different. Students can just as easily end-gain with traditional directions as with images – it’s the human condition after all…. In fact, one of main reasons for trying out an image/metaphor is when the student is end-gaining – “doing” a direction. For some people an image conveys the meaning of the direction with far less temptation to end-gain. Use of “negative” directions is also useful for this purpose. I aim to give my students a variety of tools which they can draw on and experiment with. It sounds like I wouldn’t need to use images with you at all 🙂

  10. I am John Appleton, the teacher of the Alexander Technique who has, over the last 20-odd years, discovered and developed Posture Release Imagery (PRI). My comments may be harsh at times, I’m afraid, because there is a good argument that Posture Release Imagery has become the “elephant in the room” here. Imogen’s thoughts and comments and the responses from others need to be addressed.

    The question of whether imagery is useful or valuable is obviously going to have yeas and nays. The imagery being discussed so far here is NOT holistic but just addresses some perceived problems in an individual’s use, using perhaps playful, but not theoretically grounded, images. It has no overarching theory behind it and may or may not have a bit of a positive, generally short-term, effect. I am generally against this category of imagery, though I may use it occasionally.
    It is mentioned more than once that the only good imagery is not static, but movement imagery. I disagree completely. I consider movement imagery of minor value compared to well-conceived static imagery. Below I describe why I think this and describe the features of PRI that vary from the imagery discussed here so far.
    Posture Release Imagery is a DISCIPLINE, requiring, at times, thoughtfulness, patience, and diligence. It suggests ways of being that cannot be done, but can only be imagined… which causes an “undoing.” The imagery is direction that strongly engages the holistic “right brain,” rather than the more linear, and therefore not holistic, “left brain” forms of direction.
    PRI is WHOLE-BODY imagery. It is made up of SPECIFIC SENSATION-CHANGING imagery that generally is applied to the entire body surface. (Changing the sensations changes the structure and movement).
    PRI is STATIC imagery… but is DYNAMIC in effect. The imagery suggests ARCHETYPAL or ideal sensations, which move the mind/body away from our static habits toward the gracefully healthy.
    PRI is based on a perspective I developed of archetypal structure and movement that has its origins in neurological development through evolution. The concept of support applies even to organisms without bones, since it is based on the tonal qualities of the body surface. The concepts of movement come from evolutionarily early movement patterns such as dorsal-ventral undulation, lateral undulation, and whole-body peristalsis.

    If anyone reading this honestly spends some time trying to understand PRI, they will be in better shape to discuss this subject. Start with: Thank you.

    • Hi Imogen, If I could delete my comments to your blog, I would. I wrote what I think is true but I was heavy-handed. With a subject as illusive as this one, I should have followed a valuable maxim … to invite rather than argue. Please accept my apologies.

  11. Hi john Appleton,
    i think alexander technique is based on the balance line of the body.

    The imaginary balance line touches AO joint,shoulder joints, cervical,lumbar, hip joints, knees,ankles.

    Note that this imaginary balance line not touches thoratic spine, ribcage, pubis etc.

    And primary control balance line touches AO joint,shoulder joint,cervical,lumbar,hhipjoint.

    If the thoratic spine is forward of imaginary balance line , the AO joint is out of balnce line.
    And many more of this type, i cant write more here!

    If the knees are out of balance line , the head might back and down.

    The alexander technique helps to prevent our selves to go out of balance line, which prevents the head compression on our spinal disks.

    By thinking alexander directions, the body works at the maximum satisfactory tensions in our daily DOINGs, and expands and compresses.

    You may ask me, where the balance line goes when we sit and stand?
    I may say , while sitting to standing i wont disturb my imaginary balance line importantly my ‘primary control balance line’.

    I may get 50- 50 success rate while doing my imaginary images prevention.

    I wish to protect my self. But, not doing it right policy.
    fm told ‘the end may not get today or tommorrow, but it will be sure on one day’ .
    i,you,we believe static and dynamic imagery is best while directing in our daily activities.

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