-bringing ideas to life






Subtle Yoga Workshop with Mika Hadar
March 20, 2013

Reported by Deena Newman

One of the most interesting aspects of F.M. Alexanderís work is the myriad directions that it can be taken depending on the proclivities, training and life experiences of the practitioner. Mika Hadar has studied in several different traditions and she was our guide for this experiential evening. Mika is a STAT certified Alexander teacher trained at Misha Magidovís school, a certified Cranial Sacral therapist and she has studied yoga and healing intensively. She currently brings her mix of knowledge (called Subtle yoga) to pupils and clients according to their individual needs. Briefly, she mentioned how she started the Alexander technique after suffering from pain caused by two car accidents. Rather than elaborating upon her training or an overview of different healing traditions, she drew on a few key ideas that we explored through a select number of exercises. Occasionally Mika referred to concepts such as prana, qi, yoga sutras and cranial sacral hydraulic rhythms, whetting the appetite for more in depth discussions. Meanwhile, FM sat in the corner of our minds, as we implicitly compared these various ideas with "the directions" and principles of the Alexander technique. 

The first idea of the evening, borrowed from a Japanese concept, is that there are five necks (the one connected to the head, two wrists and two ankles). She invited us to contemplate "freeing the neck(s)" within this framework. "Death starts from the feet," Mika announced, as she memorably imitated the restricted gait of an elderly person with locked ankles. "Stiffness of the toes and feet compromise our vitality." To enhance a further opening in our feet, Mika showed us a picture depicting the length of our metatarsals/phalanges. We were then guided in exercises in which we focused on opening the wrists, ankles and feet, sending energy down through our toes, while feeling the connection with our back. After each exercise, she returned to the same question she asked at the beginning of the evening: "where is the intensity of your presence now? Is it above the waist or below the waist? Or donít you know?" 

The next concept was a Newtonian one and it figures prominently in the work of yoga practioner Vanda Scaravelli: Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. "If you work with gravity, you go up. If not, you are defeated by it" which brought a spot on imitation of someone, hobbled and stooped, who had not managed the dance with gravity. Mika touched on the relevant topic of the reflexes. Drawing on Scaravelliís philosophy, Mika invited us to be ground oriented. "Itís about rooting oneself to the ground and allowing the force of gravity to be the base of support in order to be able to extend the upper part of the body"(Scaravelli). If one feels uncertainty, Scaravelli advised, come back to the breath, reconnect with the ground, and the body will find its steadiness again. Scaravelli called our "three friends" breath, gravity and the wave. By the wave, she meant a rhythm that the spine expresses as it responds to gravity. 

There was some discussion of whether this emphasis on "down" or ground was compatible with Alexanderís directions, with his focus on "forward and up" and the neck/head relationship. John Hunter offered, "Itís absolutely compatible with Alexanderís thinking. You need a connection with the ground. Otherwise, youíre stretching up." 

In another exercise, we were asked to flex our wrists so that our palms were parallel or even angled up away from the floor (a little reminiscent of the Alexander exercise "hands on table"). "The wrists are junctions feeding the spine," commented Mika. We were then asked to direct our thought down into our feet, facilitated by our breath. Most participants felt a physical or emotional response. Mika concluded the exercise by suggesting that opening the energy channels in the extremities can revitalize the spine.  

Afterward, we recuperated in semi supine. Some of us drifted, which led to a discussion about yoga nidra, theta brain waves and what Mika described as the three biological rhythms (breath, the cardio-rhythm and the cranial sacral hydraulic system). In parting, Mikaís last words drew on the themes of working with gravity, opening the necks and the Alexander directions: sense your feet on the ground, let your necks be free, connect to your breath and allow your backs to lengthen and widen. 

This was a stimulating evening and Mika thoughtfully syncretises several different traditions and systems of thought. Throughout the evening, Mika spoke admiringly of FM Alexander for having singularly discovered complementary principles to the great somatic traditions. She also had high praise for the AT training which powerfully harnesses the mind and brings one to an appreciation of a mind-body unity, inhibition and non-doing. While the yoga sutras articulate the philosophy of non-attachment, "FM was a genius at helping people practice non-attachment." We look forward to following how Mika synthesizes different knowledge systems and the Alexander technique in her work. 

 © Deena Newman 2013




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