In order to understand the concept of Primary Control one needs to become familiar with the connection between head and neck. Primary Control is far more than an anatomical concept, but this is where I begin.
Whenever I tell a new student in one of the first lessons that the neck has seven vertebrae and that the first or highest vertebra, the Atlas, is located approximately between the ears, I get really puzzled looks and expressions of astonishment or disbelieve. And to be quite honest, after all these years of practicing the Alexander Technique myself, I find it still a fascinatingly remote area of the body, an area that we cannot feel or voluntarily control and that needs therefore an indirect approach of picturing and gentle verbal reminders.
The Atlanto-Occipital Joint is located at the underside of the skull: between the Atlas, the first vertebra on top of the spine, and the Occiput, the part of the head that forms the back and underside of the skull.
Pictures will help us along here:
|All vertebrae protect the spinal cord and are surrounded by tissues that support and move the spine.
|The head is balancing on the spine by way of two bilateral protrusions fitting into two matching bowls on top of the Atlas.
Ligaments form deep layers of support tissue. Underneath are the smallest muscles in the neck and towards the outside the powerful Trapezius muscle is forming the back of the neck.
We see again all the soft tissues surrounding the bony and cartilaginous parts in head, neck and throat.
How to Improve Your Sense of the Atlanto-Occipital Joint?
Imagine a connection between your two ears and rotate your head minimally forward and back to neutral around this imagined axis. Remember that you imagine this movement more than execute it. And can you add a thought of "up" to the forward rotation?
Practice Constructive Rest in Semi-Supine and let your head rest on a stack of books. How do you know your head is resting? Remember, it weighs at least 10 to 12 pounds. Try to lift it up a few millimeters form the books and then release the muscles that have worked. Then try to press your head back into the books and likewise release the muscles that have worked. This might also give you insights into your habitual use pattern for your head.
Then do NOTHING! Ask your neck to be free. Truly rest your head. Let go. Tell yourself in silent words: "I am not tightening my neck muscles. I am not shortening any tissues in my neck."
Additional teaching space in Middletown at
Yoga in Middletown will again be available in the fall, as well as occasionally space in Guilford. Lessons need to be booked and scheduled with Michaela at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 203-271-3525.
Free Introduction to the Alexander Technique at the New Haven Public Library on 133 Elm Street
Wednesday, September 12 from 1-2 PM, bring a mat
Back Health - Posture - Balance
Middletown Adult Education, 5 Tuesdays, September 18 to October 16, 6:30 - 7:45 PM
Think Young - Balance, Posture and Beyond
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, UConn Campus, Waterbury
6 Fridays September 14 to October 19, 11:40 to 1:10
Check out OLLI at an Open House on Wednesday, August 15, 9 AM to 3 PM or call 203-236-9924
Your Voice resides inside your body - do you want to let it out?
Hamden Adult Education, 2 Thursdays 6:30-8:30 PM
As a trained Speech, Language and Voice Therapist I am rekindling my old love affair with vocal health and quality and seek to teach connections between voice and the use of breath and body.