I read a story recently about someone’s first experience with the Alexander Technique. It was many years ago, and he had come across a poster advertising an introductory workshop.
The workshop was titled “HEAD UP EYES FORWARD: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique.”
He went to the workshop. I think that he eventually went on to train to be an Alexander Teacher. What impressed me about the story was that all these years later he remembered the four words on the poster. HEAD UP EYES FORWARD. I don’t remember the titles of most workshops I have attended over the years. Perhaps the general topic, but not the title. Why did this fellow remember these four words?
It is often easier to retain information when you have a simple and catchy phrase to help you remember. If it rhymes, even better.
We all know the ubiquitous KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON from our friends across the pond. Or one of the seemingly thousands of variations on it from KEEP CALM AND TAP DANCE to KEEP CALM AND EAT BACON. This is an example of one such simple and catchy phrase.
I would put HEAD UP EYES FORWARD in that same category.
Besides being simple and easy to remember, it is quite good advice.
Most of these days our heads are FORWARD and our eyes DOWN. Typically looking at one type of screen or another. The problem with too much of this is that your head weighs 10-12 lbs. When it is hanging forward as your eyes look down at your smartphone lying flat on the table or on your lap, for example, it is sort of like hanging a heavy shopping bag on the end of your neck.
Alexander’s discovery was the importance of the relationship of the head to the spine. When the head balances freely on top of the spine (HEAD UP) posture and movement benefit. If your head is sitting up on the top of your spine your EYES naturally point FORWARD. Your eyes are in the front of your head after all.
I get questions all the time about how to walk correctly. First of all, if you know me at all, you know that I will tell you that there is no right way to walk. But the first step to making walking easier for yourself is HEAD UP and EYES FORWARD.
I am a big advocate of making walking a time to take a break from your phone.
And if you do you can remove some strain from the neck and back by allowing your head to gently balance and rest on the top of your spine. Look out with a wide focus on where you are going. Be aware of your surroundings.
If you live in a busy urban area this is Safety 101. If you have a wide focus your brain will automatically plan for what’s coming so you can avoid obstacles in your path. You may find you can walk easier, faster, and more efficiently if you keep your focus out in front of you instead of down at the ground.
Your body and your posture will thank you for it.
HEAD UP and EYES FORWARD.
Spread the word.
Image of toddler: Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock