Head and Neck

The Head and Neck – Up the Front

Before we return to a discussion of the tongue let’s look more closely at the head and neck relationship.  I started this discussion in the April 2009 entry entitled “Neck Free” and will expand it here.  This will inform the next discussions of the tongue.

In the Alexander work the head and neck are given a great deal of attention due to the fact that the leads the body into motion when we use ourselves well. Keeping the neck free allows the body to follow the head in lengthening, widening, and deepening  – no matter what “position” you are in.

Often, when we think of the head-neck connection, the focus is drawn to the back of the skull where the head meets the spine at the Atlanto-Occipital joint.  (AO joint)  This is very useful AND there is more to the picture.

When the anterior (front) of the neck and spine, near the tongue and larynx, are included in the discussion of the head and neck, the full neck, head, and full body begin to fill in more clearly.  In the picture below, notice that:

*  the front part of the Atlas is higher than the back part

*  there is a large vault/arch up in the skull forward and ABOVE the AO joint

*  the center of gravity of the head is well above the AO joint (forward and up away from the AO joint)

As you release the front part of your head on the spine this allows you to continue your upward direction up into the vault of the skull toward region of the center of gravity.

This knowledge and awareness allows you to play with the balance of your head on your spine in a very refined way.  Focusing on the area of the center of gravity of your skull when you direct your head gives a higher and clearer sense of what the head is, and were to direct it from.

Activity:  From a seated position, look down at your knees, allowing your head to follow your eyes as you look down.  Keep in mind to keep yourself free in the front of your AO joint and keep the upward direction going up toward the center of gravity of your head.

When you look down lengthen along both the front AND back of your spine.  This is much higher and longer than many people seem to recognize.


Big Hint:  (preview for what is to come) You can see already that if you are pulling your tongue down you are compressing the front of the spine and taking away the inner space of your skull – the very space you need to give your speaking and singing have the best vibration and resonance.