Do Less, Be More – Exploring Franklin Method and Alexander Technique

 

– The MOVEMENT Movement with Steven Sashen Episode 126 with Greg Dyke

 

Greg Dyke is a software engineer, a former researcher in the learning sciences, and occasional partner dance teacher. He gave up downhill ski racing after leaving university and has not been running or gone to the gym since. He somehow found his way into partner dancing (Blues, Lindy Hop, Tango, Bal folk) and settled down into a sedentary lifestyle with occasional movement to music. Encounters with great teachers, Franklin Method and Alexander Technique transformed him from an ungraceful, nerdy dancer into someone who wears barefoot shoes, geeks out about somatic modalities, and is about to start training in Alexander Technique. Ten years later, he’s still nerdy, but more graceful – and people seem to really enjoy dancing with him.

 

Listen to this episode of The MOVEMENT Movement with Greg Dyke about the Franklin Method and the Alexander Technique.

 

Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:

– Why people should find the movements that their body knows how to do.

– How the images you hold about your body are going to mirror what you do with your body.

– How turning your head from side to side shortens your spine and creates tension.

– Why people must expand their movement vocabulary by bringing awareness to their movements.

– How people should find a way to use less effort and relax more.

 

Connect with Greg:

Guest Contact Info

Facebook
facebook.com/jesseandgregdance

 

 

Links Mentioned:
anchor.fm/gregdyke

Gregdyke.gitub.io/#blog

youtube.com/watch?v=2p3bFQz7d0E

youtube.com/watch?v=l94bz3BQ4Oc

youtube.com/watch?v=qYIjPGmnOEw

 

 

Connect with Steven:

Website

Xeroshoes.com

Jointhemovementmovement.com

Twitter
@XeroShoes

Instagram
@xeroshoes

Facebook
facebook.com/xeroshoes

 

 

Steven Sashen:

You know, if you’re trying to accomplish anything, you’re going to have to work hard. You’re going to have to try hard. You got to strive. You got to go for it. You got to… All those things. What if there’s another way. We’re going to take a look at that today on this episode of the MOVEMENT Movement, the podcast for people who want to know the truth about what it takes to have a happy, healthy, strong body, starting usually feet first, because those things are our foundation we’re breaking down the propaganda, the mythology, sometimes the outright lies you’ve been told about what it takes to run or walk or hike or play or to yoga or CrossFit, hang out with your kids, whatever it is you like to do, to do it enjoyably and efficiently, effectively. Did I mention enjoyably? I know I did. It’s a trick question because look, if you’re not having fun, do something different till you are.

 

Because you’re not going to keep it up if you don’t like it anyway. So I’m Steven Sashen from xeroshoes.com. I am somehow the host of this thing, and we call this The MOVEMENT movement because at Xero Shoes and with a bunch of people that we’ve had on this podcast and other people around the world, we’re creating a movement and that we include you. It’s free. I’ll tell you how no doesn’t take any effort about natural movement that is letting your body do what bodies are supposed to do, not getting in the way with things that are technological advancements that don’t actually help.

 

So, the way you can participate in the movement part, it’s easy. Go to www.jointhemovementmovement.com. That’s obviously our website. You’ll find all the previous episodes, all the ways you can engage with the podcast, all the places where you can like and share and give us a thumbs up and hit the bell icon on YouTube to hear about upcoming episodes and subscribe. And yeah, I mean, you know how it works. If you want to be part of the tribe, please subscribe. And all you have to do is share. So that’s all, that’s what you do. So let us jump into today’s something or other, we’re going to have a fun chat. Greg, do me a favor. Why don’t you tell human beings who you are and what you and what you’re doing here?

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. Hey Steven. So I am a software engineer. I’m an occasional dance teacher of partner dance. I used to be a researcher in the learning sciences. I’m really excited about two somatic modalities. Like there’s tunnels of them out there. And most of them I’m pretty sure do great stuff. I’m particularly excited about Franklin method and Alexander technique so much. So I’m about to start Alexander technique teacher training, which is going to keep me partially at least occupied the next three years. And I’ve just been really excited about your podcast. The MOVEMENT movement is a thing that I needed to be dragged in kicking and screaming.

Steven Sashen:

Pause there. Why is that? What was the kicking and screaming part?

Greg Dyke:

Oh, so I used to be a ski racer in my youth, and I really enjoyed the technicality of it, like downhill slalom. One of them you’re supposed to be big and bulky and the other one left maybe, but I just enjoyed both of them because to do a really good run, you have to just have a really good technique and be super precise and super focused. And I enjoyed that. What I didn’t enjoy is that I had to have a really strong body to do it, like having a strong body, no problem with that doing the workouts to get a strong body, that’s just boring and annoying and I didn’t like it. And so I was never particularly good at ski racing. I put a lot of years and effort into it. And so when I stopped, I was just really happy. Yeah. No more workouts in the gym, no more going running in an evening or a morning before after school, all those things I can just do if I want to and not do, if I don’t want to.

 

Then I find partner dancing and that kind of satisfied that need to move. But because partner dancing is about interacting with another person. So social partner dancing, just go out to a party, go to a club, go dancing. I didn’t, I was kind of awkward at moving because I enjoyed the geeking out about it. And the, how do you lead and follow this magical thing. But again, the actual training and getting a strong, balanced body. I’m really happy to have that as a byproduct of whatever I do. I am not going to put in the hours to make it happen. And then suddenly I came, did this dance training, whether the tagline was trained like a professional dancer. So five days a week for five days, eight hours a day, start at eight in the morning, finish at nine o’clock at night, go sleep.

Steven Sashen:

So, hold on, wait. I’m pausing you again. So you started by saying in two different places, you just didn’t want to put in the work as it were. And then, and you signed up for a five day, a week, eight hours a day, putting in the work thing?

Greg Dyke:

I know. And it was the promise that this would… I had a friend who’d done this thing, this particular training with these particular teachers before. And she kept saying, “Hey Greg, you would love this. You would really love this.” I’m like, “Would I?” I don’t think I would though, I was curious. And so the curiosity will get me there and I wanted to see what would this promise? And it’s not too big of a thing. It’s just like five days. It’s a little bit of money, but that, part’s fine.

Steven Sashen:

Not like five days a week for some indefinite amount.

Greg Dyke:

Oh, no.

Steven Sashen:

Okay. Just get five day program. That’s a whole different story. Okay. So that makes sense. Okay. Now I’m with you.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. And I mean also eight hours a day movement training. You can’t do that. I don’t think for more than five days in a row afterwards, you need to tone it down to something that’s sustainable and maybe pro athletes do eight hours a day. I don’t really know and yeah, there were some things that happened there that were the ways that stuff, that movement was being taught. The things I was taught made my brain curious and curious enough that I overcome the desire to not really work too hard on things. And still haven’t worked super hard on stuff, because that’s still not who I am. If I’m in the brain space, I’m like, this is the thing I’m focusing on. This is what I want to do. I’ll do it and not count the hours. And as soon as I have to drag myself out of bed or off the couch or away from the computer or away from whatever it is I’m wanting to go. I don’t have that.

Steven Sashen:

So, I haven’t found the thread to what you said though, for coming to natural movement, kicking, and screaming.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. And so there, it was kind of… I was social dancing. It’s about relating with another person it’s about being musical. It’s about having fun. And so there’s a lot of very awkward social dance movers out there. But no one’s professional at it. Well, I mean, some people are, but most of the people they’re not professional. They’re just there to have fun and they don’t actually care. It’s the same thing. You go out to a pub, someone’s telling a joke, they’re not a professional comedian. And if they were a professional comedian, maybe they would tell that joke even slightly better. But they’re probably really good at telling joke jokes. I’m the kind of person I go to pub and the way I tell the joke, the punchline you tends to fall a bit flat. That’s fine that happens. And my friends presumably put up with it.

 

And so that there was kind of the same thing. Like I was happy being a slightly awkward dancer who people enjoyed dancing with, they enjoyed hanging out with, but I wouldn’t film myself and put it on the internet because I just looked silly almost and I’d be embarrassed about it. And I thought there was people who were graceful and the people who are not graceful and that there was no path on here to there. And so what this taught me was two things. One is there is a path on here to there and I’m really excited about that. And also that even me, who’s like renounced running and training at the gym.

 

I’m excited to be like, yeah, but this is how I live life to the full, I think your tagline, I always think, this is Steven’s tagline. It’s always the same with more variations. And I think nobody, you know what, this is something I really believe in. And so now I wear barefoot shoes. I have a couple of yours. I have a couple of vivo barefoot. I do all through COVID. I did three times a week, movement breaks over lunchtime, over zoom with some friends and just whoever else was stuck at home and really needed that. It’s like tell 10 years ago me, that I was going to do that and I wouldn’t have believed it.

Steven Sashen:

So, I’m going to press you on this just because you have me super curious. So it seems like we just made a jump between dance and all these other things you were doing and then getting into barefoot natural movement. But I didn’t hear where the gap was or where the original either objection or distrust or disbelief or whatever that was the kicking and screaming part. I’m stuck on that. You can tell.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. So there’s a couple of parts to it. One is just the self-efficacy the growth mindset of it. I just didn’t think that there was a path for me from a door key, not natural movie, not very good at moving dancer to being a good dancer. And I thought if there was such a path, it must involve really working hard and training your body and getting your body strong and supple bit and doing all those things I didn’t want to do.

Steven Sashen:

So, what was the thing that… I mean, I got a couple questions that come from that one is, well, actually I’ll do this first. So clearly you’ve described a number of things that explain how I set this up about working hard and striving, et cetera. Maybe there’s another way. And I know we’re going to get into some specifics about that in second. So I want to just lead with that. But the second question is what was the thing that made you want to try getting shoes from us or vivo or whomever else and getting that sort of natural footwear or natural motion starting feet first.

Greg Dyke:

So, I went to this camp first time and the teachers there, two of people who I’ve trained with in the 10 years ever since like at least five, 10 days a year, they’re trained in Franklin method as one of the modalities that they use. And what they told me is you don’t have to train super hard. You have to go find the movements that your body already knows how to do or can access because we all have the same bones, the same muscles, and the saying the difference between me and you and why when I dance and it looks great and you dance and it looks bit awkward. Some of it’s the training, but some of it is just letting all my joints move independently. Like you can make this movement with your arm where my hand is waving across the screen and my arm and my wrist are not articulated.

Steven Sashen:

Right. So your upper arm for people aren’t watching. So you’re basically making your upper arm, a windshield wiper, your wrist and hand, aren’t doing anything. Your arm is just taking, doing the motion.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. And then if I let all of the parts of my arm articulate, so the bones in the forearm are moving against each other. The wrist is moving, the fingers are moving. I’m not even doing anything purposeful. And I could probably then try to do something purposeful and artistic and emotional or something. But there I’m just doing the technical part, which is all these joints exist. All the joints are supposed to move, let’s move them. And that goes down to the feet. And it’s something, probably people have said many times on this podcast, but saying again, you have 26 bones in your foot, some number in each foot, some number of joints.

 

If those joints are there, that means that biomechanically, they probably need to move. And so what would happen suddenly if you’re a dancer who never moved any of the bones, each foot, and suddenly started mobilizing that foot, pulling on it, massaging it, touching it, walking in barefoot shoes the whole time. How suddenly would all the articulations in the feet translate all the way up the body into articulations in the spine, articulations into arms and articulations everywhere. Like if you get stuck one place in your feet, then everything else is going to get stuck.

Steven Sashen:

Love it. All right. So you mentioned the Franklin method, which is something we haven’t talked about yet on the podcast. So why you give people now… Do me two favors, one, let people know, or I’ll let people know, and you can elaborate on this, that this is not, as you mentioned, this is not something that you are a professional Franklin method teacher person, but something that you… And you’re clearly one of these people and trust me, I know them, because I am one who you get into something and you get into something. So I get that, which partly why we’re here. So why don’t you talk about just sort of how you felt it or what you discovered about it, what you’ve learned from it and what you want to share about that. And we can give people… Do you want to start by giving people a little taste of something or do you want to give an intro and then a little taste?

Greg Dyke:

Let’s do an intro and then talk about Alexander technique briefly. And then do the movement thing and talk through both. Maybe what we might notice in that movement.

Steven Sashen:

I’m worried that when people hear that we’re talking about Franklin method and Alexander technique, they’re going to think we’re talking about some workshop having to do with the musical Hamilton. Seems like these are names that we just don’t hear very often anymore. Anyway, please continue.

Greg Dyke:

Cool. So the thing that first struck me in Franklin method is the teachers who wonderful movers, wonderful teachers. I’m like, I trust you because also I’ve paid money to be here for a week with you. Cool. And what they said is, “You know Greg, your sacrum and your pelvic, they’re supposed to be able to move independently of each other.”

 

And like many people probably, if they’ve heard anything about the SI joint is that it needs stabilizing and it needs to be solid. And that there is no or very little movement in the SI joint that is supposed to be happening. And Franklin method is very much based on how the body actually moves. So it’s supposed to be functional anatomy scientifically true. And that’s why I’m a little bit unsure about the whole world sometimes. Like what is true? What is not true? But I certainly experienced my teachers. Their sacrum and their pelvis move independently to a small degree like they articulate.

 

And over the course of three to five years, by the time it took, because it also involved unlocking the movement in my neck. If your neck is stuck, because then you’re going to be stuck. Because your whole spine has the chain going up and down. But this was new information to me and also conflicting information. And so what Franklin method says is, okay, so here’s the bones you have. Well, here’s the bones, here’s the muscles, here’s the fascia bones is easy because there’s less of them. So let’s start with the bones. Here’s the internal movements that happen in the pelvis when you pea, so pea is the dance term for just going into a partial squat. When you pea your pelvic floor acts as a suspension and in order for the suspension to work, that means that your sit bones go apart.

 

Your tailbone goes away from the sit bone. So if you imagine a triangle between the bottom of your tail and your two sit bones, that’s going to spread apart. And as you come back, it’s going to narrow. And that’s part of using the pelvic floor as a widening thing. Like a ball gets wider when it bounces and when people don’t have that, that’s when suddenly any landing or jumping or peaking or move any kind of up and down movement or pose movement goes into knees, goes into your back. And those parts of the body aren’t designed to shock absorb. And so suddenly you take away the shock absorption that happens in your pelvis and it doesn’t work.

 

And same thing then from the pelvis, there’s some just even talking to bones. There’s some spirals that go various directions down into the foot. There’s some spirals are happening amongst the bones in the foot. If the pelvis spirals are not working, then your foot spirals are not working. If your foot spirals is not working your pelvis, spirals not working. So you have that chain from foot to pelvis, that’s involved in shock absorption and Franklin method tells you… Yeah, go ahead.

Steven Sashen:

I want to pause there. So, because there’s a lot in what you just said. And some of it’s really hard to imagine or certainly feel if you haven’t felt it. But what you just said with connecting, let’s say the pelvis to the feet. I want to give people an easy thing to latch onto as a starting point. And I was playing with this just the other day. If you stand up and if you’re standing with your feet parallel facing forward, because you could have been parallel facing backward, that would be entertaining.

 

And then you keep the ball of your foot and your heel planted while you then squeeze your glutes. If you squeeze your glutes, that makes your femurs turn outward. So if you’re looking from above your right femur, your thigh bone is going to go clockwise, your left, one’s going to go counterclockwise. But again, with your feet planted, what happens, what’s really interesting is suddenly you get more of an arch in your foot. So that little spiral that you’re referring to that starts from the glutes, AKA around the pelvis, goes down through your legs, into your feet. And interestingly, when you do this, if you do this, it also feels like while you have less of your foot on the ground, you feel more rooted to the ground. You feel more connected, more solid because you just engaged your glutes. Now, ironically, you could do the same thing the other way around.

 

You could do that with your feet and then you’d feel it up in your glutes as well. And if you really want to have fun, do the opposite, let your glutes relax and turn your femurs inward. So don’t try to see… And it’s tricky to do this without making your knees point towards each other, but just see if you can do the opposite movement and you’ll feel your feet flattened out called pronation, not a bad thing. Part of the natural shock absorbing mechanism of the lower limbs. But you can feel that pronation when you let your femurs turn in and that arch building up and technically a little bit of supination the opposite of pronation, but not really as you engage the glutes and engage the feet when they’re locked in the ground. So I’m going to suggest that’s sort of a simple way of starting and what you’re talking about sounds like an elaboration of something like that. Did I get it right?

Greg Dyke:

Very much so. Yes. The only slight elaboration there would be is when your glutes are squeezing, your pelvic floor is probably coming in as well. So your sit bones are coming in and when your sit bones come in, your femur doesn’t have to spiral out. It could counter spiral. And so there’s some counter spiraling. The pelvis goes one way the femur goes another way the tibia goes, one way the feet goes another way. Then the heel goes a third way. Well, and the result is exactly what you described when the sit bones come together, the arch of the feet forms.

 

And when the sit bones go apart, the arch of the foot down forms and that’s important to pea and it’s super, super important in walking.

Steven Sashen:

That sounds great. Okay. So from there, I want to back up a little bit. So Franklin method I’m guessing came from someone whose first or last name was Franklin.

Greg Dyke:

What a good guess. Have you noticed how all the methods are a bit like that?

Steven Sashen:

Well, I don’t know that anyone’s ever named some technique off their middle name. That would be a clever.

Greg Dyke:

That’s true. And then of course we have Bonnie Brainbridge Cohen who named her technique Body-Mind CENTERING, which just makes me love her because she didn’t go and name her technique.

Steven Sashen:

This is going to sound totally silly. And self-indulgent, but whenever people name a company after themself, I find that very odd. It anyway, that’s whole other story. Okay. So this guy, his first or last name was Franklin. I’m assuming it’s a guy in my right?

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. His name’s Eric Franklin. Of course it’s a guy.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, no. There’s lots of things that have been sort by women as well. But nonetheless.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah, so he was a dancer, professional dancer. He realized coming after dance training, he was injured more than he felt would. And that’s treated as normal. It’s like, you’re doing this dancing. It’s supposed to be good for you, but I’ve just spent five years training in dance. And half my time I’ve spent with some kind of injury or other what’s even about that. Another thing he noticed is his teachers would say, Eric, your spine is crooked, like a banana. How do you expect to be a dancer? And he noticed the obvious that if you’re thinking about your spine being crooked, like a banana, that’s not a very useful thought to go the other way.

 

And so that’s a little bit trite and trivial, but yeah, the images that you hold about your body are going to mirror what you do with your body. And what he found is that there’s a lot, lot of different cues and images that people use. And some of them are not anatomically correct or are only partially anatomically correct.

Steven Sashen:

Can you give me an example?

Greg Dyke:

An example uses people always like to lengthen the spine. And you can keep the spine lengthening. And that’s probably a thing in my opinion, but if you turn your head, literally your spine is actually going to shorten a little bit. And if you twist in your whole spine, it is literally going to shorten a bit because that’s shortening allows space apparently for the spinal cord to not get sheered or twisted or hurt in any way.

 

And so, if you think that your spine should be getting longer as you’re twisting, you’re holding two country ideas in mind, one that it should be getting longer, but you can also try to shorten while turning your head and that’s awkward or can let it shorten while turning your head. And that’s a little bit better.

Steven Sashen:

I’m playing with that right now. I’m like the idea of just trying to feel, it doesn’t feeling shortening, but feeling I’m turning my head. And I definitely, I don’t feel like I’m getting shorter, because God knows I don’t need that. But I definitely get the idea that if you try to lengthen, it’s adding tension into that process. I mean, that’s what I can feel if I’m turning my head and I’m trying to simultaneously lengthen, I’m actually just creating tension in my neck that doesn’t feel particularly helpful.

Greg Dyke:

And that’s also a thing, like if you’re trying to do two slightly different things at once, it doesn’t work so great.

Steven Sashen:

Now I got it.

Greg Dyke:

And so, he got a bit annoyed about a lot of people making claims about how the body’s supposed to move. It’s actually not related to how the body is supposed to move in his and scientist opinion. And that’s a little bit controversial. I don’t know if you’ve seen some people in France, do these 3D visualization of how the bones move in certain movements.

Steven Sashen:

No.

Greg Dyke:

It’s cool. It’s this research lab in France that does modeling and they have some great explanations just of how the foot is made. Like a foot is two arches, one going this way, one going this other way. And then you break those arches into different little bits of bone and boom. You have a foot and same thing they-

Steven Sashen:

We’re going to have to find the link for that and include that in the show.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. I will send it to you afterwards.

Steven Sashen:

Agree.

Greg Dyke:

So, and the point with that is that some things that everyone agrees and then there’s other things where people either agree to disagree or vehemently disagree. So for example, good functional movement in the sacred reality joint is probably something you could start a whole bunch of arguments on the internet about.

Steven Sashen:

So, let’s pause here for a sec and let’s give some people a little bit of an experience of this, because it is built a little heady now. And I know that we could do where people would get it a bit more and move from there. Unintended.

Greg Dyke:

Cool. Let’s stand up.

Steven Sashen:

Tricky for me to do.

Greg Dyke:

And you can do that class.

Steven Sashen:

Right here we go.

Greg Dyke:

I can do that. Woohoo. Okay. You’re not going to see the full body from me.

Steven Sashen:

This weird angle where people are looking up, our nose is.

Greg Dyke:

And so, what we’re going to do is we’re going to just move up on the tip of our toes and come back down again, do that a couple of times and notice what we notice.

Steven Sashen:

Now. Some people are not standing up, so you’ll have to imagine doing this or you’ll do it later when you can stand up.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. Do it later when you can. I often find during this podcast. I’m listening to it while walking and people are like, “Okay, now done, hit with the part.” And I’m like, “I have got places to be.”

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, well you can still imagine you’re doing it, right. We just raised up onto our toes a few times.

Greg Dyke:

Cool. So on a scale of like one to 10, how effortful did you… How much effort did you have to put to do that?

Steven Sashen:

See, now I must remember because I wasn’t paying attention to that. So I’m going to use my memory on a scale of one to 10. I’m going to give it a four.

Greg Dyke:

Okay. And so now what we’re going to do, we’re going to imagine how sit bones, so we’ve just been sitting on them. So hopefully we know where our sit bones are, otherwise that the bottom of your butt, but the bony bits that stick out and we’re going to imagine our heels. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to imagine our heels swinging in as we come up and we’re going to imagine our sit bones narrowing closer together as we come up.

 

And their opposite as we go down. So we come up, our sit bones, narrow our heels swinging together and we come down our heel, swing out. Our sit bone, swing out. We come up, our sit bone narrow together and we come down and as heel swing out, sit bones swing out.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. So now the effort on that was like in the two and a half range.

Greg Dyke:

And here’s where you can experiment if you’re not convinced about, okay, so it should sit bones, come together in this movement. Should my heels also swing together to match the fit bones? And we could try the opposite. So let’s try to get our sit bones to come out and our heels to come out as we come up. And I find this horrendously difficult, because I don’t have the muscles in my feet to do that kind of thing.

Steven Sashen:

I can do it. But now the effort on that is more in the five range and it just feels stupid.

Greg Dyke:

And so that’s a very, as far as I can tell, because obviously I haven’t trained in it, but I have friends, who’ve trained, and they’ve given their practice lesson of this is how you should teach it. And that was a very standard. Here’s how you teach in Franklin method.

Steven Sashen:

If we’re going to take this further, we’re going to learn? Some of these let’s call them natural movement patterns, because that’s what we were talking about before. And that’s what this experience is. How does this then apply to these things that human beings are doing? Whether it’s walking, running, dancing, lifting weights, I mean, whatever you can think of from your experience.

Greg Dyke:

So, one is you can just like train this thing and notice, oh I’m having trouble. When I have to put my ball on the foot, the ball of my foot on the ground. And there’s been a bunch of situations where we do that. We do it while running or at least while part of running, we do it while dancing. There’s a thing called a ball chain step where you step on the ball and then you step on the flat and you step on the flat. And if you’re stepping on the ball and letting that he’ll stay swung out, you’re going to have to engage a whole bunch of muscles in your foot to do it. Whereas if you step on the ball and let the heel swing in, then you have, if you imagine your hand and it’s floppy. And if I twist it, so like forming the arch in my hand, by twisting, then all the bones are solid against each other and it’s less floppy.

 

And that’s part of what we’re doing with the arch of our foot when we’re bringing our heel in and out, the slight supination of the front of the foot for that is what creates the arch is what makes the foot strong is what gives you a foot that you can level on.

 

And then the opposite is when you’re landing on your foot and you need a flat foot, you need a foot that’s malleable to adapt to the contour of whatever you’re balancing on. Then you want the opposite to happen. You want to move away from your lever foot. You want to go into your base foot. And that involves the heel swinging out. And if someone’s heel is not used to moving because they live in shoe prisons or whatever else we want to rant about, then they’re going to find these things difficult to do. People who live in heels are going to find it hard to let that heal correctly unspiral. And that’s going to mean that the shock absorption the palm is going to be hard. So what they can do is with the help of a Franklin method teacher, typically we’ll do some other modality as far as I can tell. So there’ll be a dance teacher, there’ll be put instructor, whatever.

 

And that teacher will say, “Hey, let’s put some functional movement back into the spirals of our legs. And then let’s just go do the things that we want to do and see how that is.” And generally people find that there’s kind of a radical difference after having done, if they are standing up sitting down, you just go and do the thing you usually do. And you’re like, “Oh, that’s different.” And then you can-

Steven Sashen:

I’ve talked about this in a couple of ways with people in the past where a lot of what we’re trying to do when it comes to natural movement, ironically is let people… The phrase I’m think of is expand their vocabulary. There’s movements that we habitually do. And because we’re doing them habitually, they’re coming from the back of our brain or our brain stem mostly. And we’re really unaware of them. So now we’re bringing awareness to either movements that we do habitually or new movements or not. It’s not called the new movements. Movements that we’re not habitually doing that may be more effortless, more natural, more in line with what bodies are made to do. And Franklin method is new to me, but I’ve done Feld in Christ way in the past. That was something I was interested in for quite a while.

 

I still love it, but I’m just not doing much with it, but that there was that phenomenon where you find a movement that is new to you, but not new to human bodies. And the experience is just like this amazing kind of aha moment that you feel through your entire body. And that’s kind of what we’re talking about here with just a different methodology where this idea of looking to see how the bones and joints naturally should function. And when you talk about bones versus sort of separate from joints and muscles, I think of a line from Joe Rogan. Somebody asked him about, I think he was talking about boxing and he said, boxing is the art of using your muscles to throw your bones at people.

 

Which is a brilliant metaphor. So this is what we’re talking about. And to the other point, that’s really interesting to me is based on what we led this conversation with that, when you do this, it should feel like you’re using less effort. And that’s a great guide post. When I say, if you’re not having fun, do something different so you are. It’s another thing when people are starting to learn barefoot running or natural running, I go this idea that you’re supposed to get stronger, it’s all about letting your calves get stronger. That may happen. But the bigger thing is learning to relax more, is learning to find a way to do less, use less effort, and then get things aligned properly is part of that. But just giving people the cue of how can you relax more? How can you do less? And what you’re describing is a methodology for exploring, doing less.

Greg Dyke:

Very much though, and using the full body potential like you can power through everything with your muscles, if you have strong muscles, but just the movement to the bones, the way that the fascia is going to communicate stuff up and down chains, it makes it less effortful. If you’re doing it the right way in scare quotes.

Steven Sashen:

Here’s a fun analogy for that one too. So I did, and I taught Tai chi many years ago, and we did Tai chi not just as like a thing that old people do to relax, but it was a fighting art. It was a martial art. And one day I said to my teacher who was a very interesting cat, this is a guy who, when I met him, he’d been doing Tai chi for 22 years. He was 27 at the time. Yeah, I got him in early. And I said, I get it. The whole thing about Tai chi as a fighting art and the seeming paradox about relaxation is that what you’re trying to do is set up something that feels like a 2,000 ton steel girder on a perfectly frictionless fulcrum. And what you do is you’re basically lead people in with this frictionless moving thing.

 

And then you align all your bones and joints, and you put a stop on the pivot. And so the steel girder now stops and they go running into the steel girder, that’s exactly it. So what you just said, it’s like, when you get everything aligned, it’s super strong because of the alignment, not because of muscular effort, that doesn’t mean there’s no muscular effort. You need to use your muscles to stand up, to sit, to do whatever else. But this thing of being easy to move and then strong by alignment in the places where you need to be strong is one of my favorite images as well.

Greg Dyke:

And then Franklin method does imagery for other. It does imagery for fascia. Does imagery for muscle does imagery for organs. But the basic level is the bones, just because less of them. It’s so much easier. I mean, it’s already hard if I were to do the full bone spiral and I’ve never actually seen them, a teacher do that in class. It’s just something that I’ve learned over the whole thing, you have the sit bone goes one way the femur goes another way, the tibia goes another way, the foot goes another way, the heel goes another way. Even holding those five things in your mind as you’re doing the movement. That’s a lot. So imagine you’re trying to image the different strands of your glutes are doing what your quads are doing, what your peer performance is doing, what your this, that, and the other is doing.

 

That’s part of the reason why a lot of the… So if we wanted to be controversial, there’s a cue that’s often engage your whatever. And like my, whatever is so much more complicated than something you can switch off and on. And I get that you think that it’s switched off at the moment and you would just like to be switched on. But the myriad of ways in which I could engage, my glutes is such that working with, let allow these bones to move in this way. And that’s all, these are the other thing that you found about bones and organs is that you can’t explicitly move them. You can only move muscles to move them. Or even for your organs, mostly you can’t even move muscles to move them, but you can use your imagination about them, and you can visualize it and image it and say, “Okay, so like my femur spiral out in this situation spiraled in into other situation.” And then you let your body deal with exactly how the muscles should coordinate to make that happen, because you can’t possibly do that coordination.

Steven Sashen:

Very interesting. Yeah. One of the things that I marvel at is how much of our movement is in completely unconscious. I mean you’ll find yourself scratching your nose, but you didn’t think about do that. And yet you’re able to do it. And then actually I’ll tell… This is a weird one. After starting zero shoes, I discovered something that really surprised me. There are probably a hundred ways, maybe more to tie a pair of shoes. I never knew this. I always assumed people did it the same way I did. And then I see so many variations. It’s totally crazy. Well, there’s a similar thing. There’s all these different ways of moving.

 

And again, we typically just don’t have the vocabulary because no one ever gave us that opportunity. I have this theory that in order to graduate high school or college or university, wherever you’re going, that you need to be able to do something like a Cartwheel or a round off or something that demonstrates that you’ve learned how to move your body in some way that we’re not wired for or, I mean, we can do them, but it’s not like an evolutionary thing to be able to do a Cartwheel.

 

It’s like when someone says to me, well, we didn’t evolve to run on hard surfaces. Well, actually the surfaces we evolved on were often hard packed mud, which is as hard concrete. We didn’t evolve to do double back flips either, but I can do one. And just expanding the vocabulary, I keep saying that over and over on this call obviously. But that’s the part that I find really compelling. Let’s find a way to bring this in with… Can we think of one other thing to let people experience. I’ll put you on the spot.

Greg Dyke:

Let’s do that with the same movement but having what Alexander technique might notice and say about it.

Steven Sashen:

But then before we do that, say something about what Alexander technique is again, another dude.

Greg Dyke:

So, this one lived quite a while ago. Well, he was born in the late 1800 hundreds. He developed his technique somewhere around 1890, and then was teaching it and earning a living from teaching it for quite a while. It was only in the 1930s that people said, “Hey, this thing we would like teach it as well. You should train us to teach it.” And so I don’t know if it never crossed his mind, but there’s something about marketing that he’d never quite had to do. That means that it’s a lifetime’s work that is completely at right angles to what everyone else has ever been doing in a certain sense, but also very much into everything that we’ve been doing in various somatic modalities since the 1950s or whenever. The short description is that it’s a method for noticing and unlearning our habits.

Steven Sashen:

I like that.

Greg Dyke:

And so, you were mentioning all this movement. We do subconsciously some of the subconscious movement we do is great. And some of it is just us getting in our own way.

Steven Sashen:

Well, this I’m sure has nothing to do with Alexander technique, but I love unlearning habits. I’ve been on a kick for the last couple months to put my pants on with the other leg first. So I noticed that I was left leg first and now I’ve been trying to remember to do right leg first every time, and I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t remember which one I prefer.

 

Well then, and what’s your experience as a practitioner? Well, as someone who’s been exploring these things of the relationship between Alexander and Franklin?

Greg Dyke:

So, Alexander technique is harder to pin down. So it’s less obvious what it is. You can’t buy the book you can buy the book it’s quite tiny and it is the use of the self. And it is very, very hard to read if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. So I would probably not recommend reading this book, although it’s small enough, why not?

 

And so, I kept meeting it like my partner did it semester in college of Alexander technique. Couple of the teachers that I’ve had as Dan teachers were trained in Alexander technique. And I still couldn’t quite pin down which part of the teaching that they were doing was Alexander technique and what it was. And so when I moved to Edinburgh as a kind of permanent place to live for a few years, about four or five years ago, I thought I’m going to find myself and I design a technique teacher. I’m going to find out what this thing’s about.

 

And after the first session, I think I was very lucky in finding my teacher. We are very well suited to each other, and he’s very good at adapting. I think to different people. It’s easy for me to think to teachers everyone like he teaches me, but I don’t think that’s the case. After that first session I went walking was suddenly this whole new experience of walking. I was probably walking maybe the same, but I was feeling how my body was moving through space differently.

 

I was feeling how I had more attention and more freedom in my head to kind of smell the flowers and watch the birds fly by. I had a coffee afterwards, and I still remember not literally, but I can remember that. I remember the taste of that coffee. Suddenly it was like, I’d never tasted coffee before. And so it was like really this way of finding new experiences by letting go of some of our habits that we have. This allow us to find something, instead of replacing one habit of walking with my head into my phone, with another way of walking with my head into my phone, suddenly saying, how about you walk differently?

Steven Sashen:

So, it’s interesting in a way coming at movement from, let’s say, similar directions, different angles. So unlearning a habit, one way of unlearning habit is discovering a new thing that you didn’t have in your vocabulary. And another way is sort of forgetting something that you’ve been doing. So either one of those can really open it up. So, what’s the experience you want to share more Alexander.

Greg Dyke:

So same thing. We’re going to stand up and we’re going to move up on the tip of our toes.

Steven Sashen:

Hi, hold on. I’m still arranging, standing up. Okay all right.

Greg Dyke:

And you’re going to watch me while we do it, and I’m going to watch you while we do it. And what I want you to notice is my shoulders. Am I doing something with my shoulders?

Steven Sashen:

Well, that’s an interesting question, because I would say simultaneously that you’re not doing something, but something is happening. So what it looked like is, as you were coming up, your shoulders were coming back and down a little bit. Now some of that could be from the angle because the camera’s now pointing up your nose, but that’s what it looked like from my end.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. And part of that is what you’re doing is moving from something fairly stable and easy. So standing on the ground to, up on your tips of your toes, a little bit more challenging. And as soon as you do something a little bit more challenging, whatever that little bit more is compared to baseline. You’re going to engage the habits that you use for doing challenging things. And so my habit for doing challenging things, the moment is like for 10 years, I haven’t believed in pull your shoulders back because it’s a really bullshit cue, but still I have this pull your shoulders back habit in my body. And as soon as I do something diff difficult, I’m going to be either like raising my shoulders like this, or pulling my shoulders back like this in an effort to be nice, upright posture. That’s how you do balance. Right?

 

And so, what Alexander suggests is, or what the technique suggest is that you notice that you’re doing those things and you just say no to them.

Steven Sashen:

So, the first part is the noticing, which I imagine probably needs another set of eyes because we’re so used to it.

Greg Dyke:

That’s helpful. That’s why I think one of the couple of reasons why Alexander technique is often taught one on one with another teacher is that teacher has the eyes to notice the things that you don’t notice anymore. And conversely can reassure you like you’re standing upright. I’m just going diagonally and pulling my shoulders out, especially back and pushing my chest. I think this is standing upright and this feels normal to me. If we go into a new organization of upright, which is maybe more like this, where I’m not necessarily less upright to an outside observer, but to my inside observer, it feels like I’m kind of leaning forwards. You need someone to reassure you. Yeah. I know right now this feels really new. This is a new experience. Congratulations you’ve had a new experience of yourself. That’s what this is all about. And so if someone kind of help you not freak out, cause then of course the next thing you do when you freak out is go back to where you were before.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Well, I find it fascinating how our identity is so tightly wrapped up with certain movement patterns. Consciously and unconsciously it’s the conscious version is how someone’s 50 yards away. They take two steps and we recognize them, or I mean, assuming we know who they are and they’re so common. And again, we don’t experience them. We don’t feel it because we just habituate to things that are familiar. So that’s super interesting.

Greg Dyke:

And then when you change them, following that idea, you suddenly have this identity threat. So I mean, it’s as if you’re a Democrat and you say, “Hey, you should vote Republican,” or you’re a Republican and you say, “Hey, you should vote Democrat.” The idea that maybe that party is better aligned with your values is really, really scary. If part of yourself identity is that you vote for this political party and it’s not just political party, it’s everything that you might strongly believe about the world and how you move tends to be something you strongly believe.

Steven Sashen:

I wonder how much of it is related to familial, tribal thing, like how we often move the way our parents do or at least one of our parents does. And so I have a suspicion. I don’t know that I haven’t read anything about this. I’d be curious if anyone’s written about it. And if anyone knows, let me know that we adopt movement patterns to fit in. And so there’s a threat if we don’t fit in because there’s a time where if you don’t fit in, you get eaten and that’s problematic. So some of this is so deeply ingrained into your point about the relationship between the movement pattern and even something as silly sounding as whether you vote Democrat or Republican. Our beliefs are also so tightly held to who we think we are.

 

That when you challenge someone’s belief, they act often like you’re trying to kill them or their family or both. So what’s so intriguing to me about all of these, whether we talked about, Franklin method, Alexander technique, beliefs, all of this and identity. It’s just how these are all like this giant Venn diagram. And in the center of the Venn diagram is this thing called you. That is very malleable really, but we are not, it’s evolutionarily, not advantageous to be malleable because that takes effort. That takes thinking that takes rewiring your brain, which could make it so that the sabretooth bunny can catch you before you catch it. And this is part of what I find so fun about this whole exploration about natural movement. Because it’s not just about running barefoot or whatever, it’s this whole-body mind self-phenomenon that plays into it.

 

Because my God look here’s the self-version. There are a lot of people who love the idea of walking around barefoot, but they would never do it in public because of who people would think they are. And in fact, I remember my version is I’m walking into the office one day, summer day, I’ve got a pair of cargo shorts on I’m in bare feet. My hair was even bigger than it is today. And I’m wearing a ratty zero T-shirt unlike the nice one that I’m wearing today.

 

And I catch myself in the reflection of the window of our office and I stopped dead in my track. I went “Oh, I’m that guy,” and I’m okay being that guy. But I just never thought about being that guy and people see me as that guy. Which is fine, I don’t really care. I don’t know who these people are. I’ll never see them again. But anyway, that’s what we’ve been talking about through this whole thing for the last 50 minutes or so, which I find fun. I need to bring this in for a landing. Is there anything that we’ve missed that you want to share to give people some idea or inspiration about how to explore these things?

Greg Dyke:

So, Alexander technique, one of the things you asked me 10 minutes ago was what did they bring more or different? One of the ideas, the fundamental ideas of that Alexander described was what he calls psychophysical unity. And there’s very many ways you could work through that. My way of working through it is to say that although we can think of ourselves as a mind and a body, that make way of compartmentalizing ourselves into two parts generally is not a useful one.

Steven Sashen:

We have lived as a Cartesian society for a long time. And that sounds really arrogant when I say it that way. So, Descartes, I think therefore I am, that was sort of the beginning of the whole idea of the separation of mind and body as a concept. And then it just, it grew from there Freud expanded on that and it has stayed pretty much part of our cultural identity if you will, especially in the west mind and body are two separate things. And that idea of somehow bridging that gap or not having that belief or seeing ourselves without that concept is literally inconceivable.

Greg Dyke:

And that’s what Alexander technique teaches bring. As I understand, is a kind of new of being ourselves. And so that new experience where often one of the things people say is instead of consciously breathing, imagine you’re being breathed. And I’ve had a couple of Alexander technique lessons where I feel like I’m being thought. And that’s not a comfortable thing. Like I would like to control my thoughts than my thoughts. I want to be in charge of them.

Steven Sashen:

I haven’t had that feeling of overseeing my thoughts for a very long time. And in fact, the phenomenon of trying to remember something and not being able to, and then it pops into your mind sometime later, most people find that either they’re comforted by it or somewhat comforting. It’s like, oh, my subconscious is working on it. I find it very, very uncomfortable because what the hell was going on that, I mean, that could I had nothing to do with, and there it is. It just lands in my mind. In fact, I mean, way back when that phenomenon would’ve been described as the gods speaking to you, which seems just as logical or just as a viable way of describing that experience as quote subconscious one is all internal. The other is seemingly external, but what the hell?

 

I mean, how do I know? I don’t believe it’s an external thing. I don’t believe the gods are planting ideas in my head. But we all have times where it felt like that. Something that shows up in your mind fully formed and it’s like, where did that come from? And that’s an amazing thing. Or my favorite version of that everyone can do right now is imagine talking to someone. And as soon as we do this, you can do it and think of something you’ve always wanted to say to somebody and just start saying it like out loud.

 

And you’ll notice that you don’t know where the sentence is going to end when you start it, but it gets there, and you are not making it get there. Something lets it get there, which if you extrapolate from that, means that we have no free will, but a that’s a whole other conversation. So that’s a really beautiful idea though, of using Alexander technique. And I can imagine Franklin as well, because of what it can bring to the expansion of the vocabulary where you can’t get this very different sense of who and how you are, where you are more of a verb than a noun.

Greg Dyke:

Although maybe one of the Alexander has a bunch of play on word quips that I often don’t like, but one of them is we are human beings, not human doings.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. That one’s gotten a little pat that’s kind of hallmark, that’s new hallmark card. I get it and I’m all for it, but I don’t think… It’s just a little glib because, in fact I could make the argument that it’s the other way around that we’re just human doings. We’re just verbs. We’re breathed, we’re thought, we’re moved, we’re any of those, I would argue, I wouldn’t argue, I would say for the fun of it, that we’re all those things. Sometimes we’re being, sometimes we’re moving sometimes we’re doing sometimes we’re… And I don’t like it when people try to ossify the idea of what we are. We do all of these things.

Greg Dyke:

It’s just a thing to push. I think people who are doing too much, and then when you’re like always doing and always doing, and then suddenly this, all this efforting in and saying, let it be done. And so instead of do the breathing, let the breathing be done.

Steven Sashen:

Breathing’s an easy one though, because 99.9% of the time it’s just done, and we are completely unaware of it. We’re not doing anything about it. And to use that metaphor for the rest of our life, I think is a little… That can be problematic. We’ve been building a business, we’re doing a lot. There’s no way to being it a lot. There’s things that have to get done. I can see behind the screen that we’re having this conversation. I got 50 emails that I’m going, okay. I got to get out of here. I got to deal with those. Now granted, if I pay attention, the way I’m responding to them is more letting it happen or it’s happening despite or parallel to me doing it. So it’s complicated.

Greg Dyke:

Something for you to try when answering those emails. So, I spend my day at the computer. I often have emails to have to deal with and I do this. And so, there’s a physical movement

Steven Sashen:

Hunching forward that collapsing into that.

Greg Dyke:

That focusing on that intensity. And so it’s psychophysical say it’s both a mental act and a physical act that coordinate together. And what if you just said no to the physical act of it? It’s okay. I’m going to answer those emails with just as much intensity and fight and doing, but I’m just going to let my head go upwards. I’m going to let my shoulders just sit quietly. And that takes away none of my power of doing an agency in the world, but it just means I don’t have to hurt myself while I’m doing the doing.

Steven Sashen:

I think that’s a great one to sort of leave people with that experiment, that idea, because we all spend a lot of time staring at our screens and leaning over and doing whatever and I can imagine, in fact, I literally did imagine that it could almost feel threatening to think about doing it without that physical effort. And this is coming back to where we started. What’s it like to do all these things without the striving, without the effort, without all the hard work and because of just how that wraps in with our identity, that could be threatening. And so look do it for one email. Just give yourself one, maybe two, just as an experiment, you don’t need to live this way. Just try it, see what happens. We are not telling you should be different that you need to go away. It’s just for fun just to see what you discover. That would be my recommendation.

Greg Dyke:

I always say, as a dance teacher, I’m here to make people become more themselves. And so I’m not trying to make them someone else, someone they’re not. And I think that’s, what’s really great about both Alexander’s technique and Franklin method. They’re both invitations to become more of yourself instead of invitations to completely change who you are because who you are is not good enough.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. That’s a whole other tangent we could take on. When someone says, I’m trying to be more myself. I’m going, guess what? That’s you just don’t like it. So, you’d rather be something else and that’s you. Yeah. Well, that’s the thing it’s like, let’s get to at least not arguing with it or not thinking that it’s proof of some problem or demonstration that there’s something wrong or missing or lacking. Almost everything I’ve ever found where people wish they were somehow different, is actually a function of being a living human being. All human beings have that same urge, that same thought, that same whatever. So clearly it’s a feature, not a bug. And if you start there, then you’re not a problem. You’re not a self-improvement project. You’re not a problem to be fixed. You’re an exploration.

Greg Dyke:

Yeah. And that’s also, when you’re working with someone, you don’t want to work with someone who thinks that they’re your coach through a self-improvement project. That’s not fun.

Steven Sashen:

No. There’s nothing less fun than someone, well, look, here’s the way you make a boatload of money. You convince people that you are in fact, someone who can see them as a self-improvement project, and you promise them that they’ll get to the end of the project, and they’ll have a whole new self-improved home in their mind and body. And that’s how you make a lot of money because we are continually looking for things that are potentially wrong to fix, because that’s how we evolved. It’s just, that’s not the only way to live. Anyway. We can go on philosophical rant for ages. Great. First I just want to thank you. This has been a real pleasure. And many times there are people who I talk to who are teaching something or whatever. And they say, here’s my website to find out more about what I’m doing.

 

You’re talking about some other things, but I can imagine some people would want to explore with you and talk more about your journey and what you found. So if people want to get in contact with you share that, but also anything, any specific links you have or of websites in your mind for people to find out more about Alexander technique or Franklin method. And again, we’ll put those in the show notes, but in other words, how can you close this out with the people getting in touch with you and getting, finding out more about what you’ve been talking about?

Greg Dyke:

Cool. I have a blog with some explorations of how I explored the Franklin method books. So that’s gregdyke.github.io.

 

And I also have a podcast which is called Walk to work, because I used to do it before times when we used to have to travel to go to work and I really enjoyed walking to do it. And that you can find, I think just by searching Walk to work in your podcast thing, and you’ll find some information about Franklin method Alexander technique that will guide you through to Google those things, find a practitioner in your area, try out various practitioners. Because some of them, we didn’t get into that. But some people you just don’t jive with because they don’t explain things in ways that make sense to you. So you find someone else who does.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, I know that’s a big one. There are very few people who have the skills to meet everyone that they encounter, where they are. And so find the one who works for you. That’s a good one. Well, so Greg again, total, total treat. Thank you so much. And for everyone else, thank you for joining us. And again, just a reminder, head over to www.jointhemovementmovement.com to find out more previous episodes, place to engage with us, how to share and like, and leave comments. If you have any suggestions, people that you want to have on the podcast or that you think I should chat with people who might talk to me who think I have my head completely up my butt. I’m okay. If someone says I have cranial rectal reorientation syndrome, not a big deal, but then you can drop me an email [email protected] But of course, most importantly go out, have fun and live life feet first.

 

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