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  Alexander Technique Cheshire



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On Arms
March 2014
In this Issue
From Wrist to Elbow
Product Endorsement
Book Recommendation
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After my training with Missy Vineyard to become a nationally certified teacher of the Alexander Technique I count my walks and my sculpting lessons with David Millen as some of the best opportunities to learn about the body in motion and about my use. 

In this newsletter I am going to take you on a little exploration of the lower arms that was influenced by the 'the rule of thumb' in my sculpting class.


With best wishes,

Michaela Hauser-Wagner

From Wrist to Elbow And From Elbow to Wrist

The anatomy of our arms allows for an almost endless number of positions and expressions in our upper extremities. The shallow shoulder joint gives the upper arm a wide range of motion in many directions, while the ability of the lower arm to rotate around itself ads to the variation in placement and activities, including artistic expressions, for example in dance.


Experiment for a moment and move just the upper arm around in the shoulder joint. Go slow and stay aware of your mobility. Then explore the mobility of the lower arm: with your elbow by your side turn your lower arm palm side up and palm side down. Ulna and Radius are parallel when the palm is facing up. When the palm is facing down, the radius is crossing over the ulna.


Now combine the motions of upper and lower arm. Move your upper arm slowly in the shoulder joint, pause at any moment, then rotate the lower arm around its own axis. Move one part of your arm or the other and then both together. You probably notice the seemingly infinite possibilities, while we haven't even taken into account the flexibility of the wrist and the expressiveness of individual finger movements.

I like to have my elbow take the lead in this movement exploration. One direction in the Alexander Technique is "Arms Away to Elbows." Think of the distance between shoulder joint and elbow and the space from wrist to elbow, feeding your mental awareness of spatial conditions, freeing the joints, and releasing the arms away from the torso - without sticking the elbows out.


Forming well proportioned and anatomically credible arms remains - for me - one of the most difficult steps to a satisfying sculpture. I think the reason lies in the arms' vast variability of positions. And of course it won't do to get one arm close to perfect and the other disturbingly wrong. 


To avoid bigger mistakes, like putting the thumb on the wrong side of the hand, the rule (of thumb) is: it (the thumb) belongs on the other side than the elbow. I admit, after everything I have said before, this sounds like a complete simplification. The aforementioned independent movements of upper and lower arm allow for considerably more range between elbow and thumb orientation. But give it some thought - wherever you are reading the newsletter right now, I invite you to let the words have meaning.


Find your elbow on your body map; maybe you want to think along the back of your upper arm away to your elbow; then, while you are keeping your elbow in your mind, find the place on the inside of your wrist close to the root of your thumb. Then let this direction spread and expand your lower arm: elbow away from thumb, thumb away from elbow, keep thinking these words.


There are no limits to this exploration, after all we are using our hands and arms constantly; a nice and simple way to begin an exploration is during a walk - you do need to take your hands out of your pocket though. Some people walk with their thumbs forward and their elbows back, some walk with their thumbs in and their elbows out. What does it do for you to have the thought of elbows away from thumbs? What is happening to the length of your lower arm and the width between your two lower arm bones, ulna and radius? Does it affect your back, shoulder, wrist or palm? Does it lead to some more rotation in the lower arm?


All musical instruments that I can think of involve the use of hands and arms, often in unusual and asymmetrical positions. But opening a pickle jar can be an equally interesting activity to practice better use. For those who are familiar with Alexander's procedure Hands-on-the-Back-of-Chair, this "rule of thumb" exploration could be a stepping stone to a better GRASP of the underlying concept. The picture below shows a beautiful example of an arm releasing away to the elbow and rotating in towards the wrist.



For lessons contact Michaela at or call 203-988-834
My Product Endorsement
SaXholder from Jazzlab is an innovative saxophone holder that excites the world of professional saxophone players, because they can find relief from constant strain on their neck and free their hands and arms in new ways for playing. It transfers the entire weight of the instrument evenly to both shoulders instead of the neck. SaXholder is a hightech product that uses aircraft and space travel materials for lightness and adaptability to your body shape. I recommend it for everyone, but especially for the young players whose bodies still needs to grow onto the instrument. It is very affordable and locally available through

Missy Vineyard: 
Learning the Alexander Technique to explore your 
mind-body connection and achieve self mastery.