Thanksgiving Monkey

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday, because it is ‘only’ about good food and good company.

I imagine that you might have shopped and vacuumed your floors last week, chopped pounds and pounds of vegetables, rolled out dough, got more chairs and special dishes from other parts of the house, carried firewood in, checked the cooking progress in the oven over and over again and lastly pulled out your perfect dishes, carried heavy platters to the table, cut and sliced food and served your guests. You might also have raked leaves and decorated your house and yard for the next holiday.

And how is your body doing? All these activities require the whole of us to move, to bend, to lift etc. The ‘position’ Alexander Technique teachers call Monkey provides not only a way to manage our bodies from standing to squatting and at every height in between. Done well, it also loads muscles with spring-like tension that helps propel the whole of us into action with more ease and upward direction.

The time for this year’s Thanksgiving turkey has passed, but it is never too late for your Monkey!

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The Monkey adapts to all work by folding you in the joints

The Monkey goes where you need to be and supports you all the way.

The following are excerpts from respected Alexander Technique teachers and writers. I have capitalized the word Monkey in all quotes. This list of examples does in no way claim to be a complete literature survey.

“Standing with feet apart and the hips, knees, and ankles flexed and with the torso tilted forward from the hip joints. Monkey encourages release in the legs and lengthening and widening in the torso as the breath becomes fuller. Practicing Monkey aids in improving overall coordination in practical situations; for example, you would use Monkey to pick something up from the floor” (Ruth Rootberg 2015)

“It’s a position of mechanical advantage to use Alexander’s term, because the body-weight is distributed within and along the structure in such a counter-balanced manner – head forward, knees forward, hips back – that there’s real economy of muscular effort and, in addition, the muscles are brought to their full and natural length throughout the organism.” (Walter Carrington, 1992)

“To keep the relationship between the head and the back constant, the neck needs muscle tone. Remember ‘free’ does not mean ‘floppy’. Do not let your head go back and down (contracting into your spine), or forwards and down (hanging towards your chest).”(Pedro de Alcantara, 1997)

“The real nature of the procedure is one of co-ordination, not of position. Learn the principles of co-ordination in the process of doing Monkeys, and you can apply the principles to all positions. If you treat Monkeys as positions to be held for a few minutes a few times a day, you will have missed the point entirely.”(Pedro de Alcantara, 1997)

“Like active rest, Monkey is much more than simply adopting a position and staying there. Think of it as an experiment in observing the subtle combination of your bodily position and the practice of engaging your mind in a thoughtful process of directing neuromuscular energy in an organised way throughout your whole body.” (Carolyn Nicholls, 2008)

Works quoted:
Living the Alexander Technique, Interviews with Nine Senior Teachers, Ruth Rootberg, 2015
Explaining the Alexander Technique, The Writings of F. Matthias Alexander, W. Carrington, Sean Carey, 1992
Indirect Procedures, A Musician’s Guide to the Alexander Technique, Pedro de Alcantara, 1997
Body, Breath and Being, A New Guide to the Alexander Technique, Carolyn Nicholls, 2008