I fully realize that by writing this blog I will be marking myself as a total and complete Alexander Technique and video game nerd. However, I’m going to do it anyway!
As I was playing Diablo III the other day I noticed that the video game designers have really been paying attention to and designing their characters around the way people in everyday life stand, walk, and run. The first time I noticed this was in the pause mode of the game. In this frame, whichever character you’ve chosen, stands in the center moving slightly. With my character I noticed that, like with most people in real life, she was standing with her hips very forward and her shoulders far behind her hips, over accentuating the lumber curve. As my fellow Alexander nerds know, standing in this position can cause back pain, locked knees, and an overall poor position of use for the human body.
Now, even though I know you cannot Alexander a video game character what I find really interesting about this observation is that it is there to observe in the first place. After all, why did the designers choose to depict the protagonist in such a posture? This is perhaps as a society we interpret that stance/posture as connoting personality characteristics such as strength, confidence, perhaps a little bit of arrogance, and courage. If this is the case, I believe it attests to people’s preoccupation that certain postures and mannerisms denote certain character traits. For example, during my last year of training I remember a new student remarking to my teacher on how she didn’t like thinking of her knees forward and away from each other because she didn’t think it was lady like. Of course, as Alexander people know the direction knees forward and away does not imply having your legs sprawled apart however, that’s what the student thought it meant in the context of her social understanding.
With this fixation on posture denoting character traits, presenting itself in both the real world and the fictional world, one can understand why it’s so difficult to let go of certain postural habits an individual believes are tied to how they are perceived by others or how they perceive themselves. As teachers I believe we need to appreciate this difficulty for our students because in a way when we encourage students to change their habits we need to take in to consideration that a student may think that we are asking them to change an aspect of their personality. Even if they are not consciously thinking this, some of their most basic and engrained habits maybe tied to the student’s conception of who they are and those things maybe very hard to let go of and change.
In order, to be compassionate towards our students struggle we should probably think about what personality traits we see as part of our identity and how they maybe manifesting themselves in our posture and mannerisms.