Constance Clare-Newman, an Alexander Technique teacher in the San Francisco Bay area talks to Robert Rickover about the ways Alexander Technique can enhance your sex life.
After getting her BA in English Literature, Constance trained for three years with Frank Ottiwell in San Francisco to become an Alexander teacher. During those years, her day job was working as the book buyer at Good Vibrations, a sex store started in the 1970s by a feminist.
“At that time, we were very politically correct. We chose erotica we thought was happy and wholesome and generative of good in the world rather than anything that might be shaming or racist or misogynist. Now it has shifted a bit. In the world of erotica, there’s been a shift. People understand that sometimes fantasies can be those nasty bad things and that doesn’t mean the person is going to be.”
Constance’s partner, Felice Newman, wrote The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us.
Constance: “In your Alexander training, it’s a three-year course, every part of your life, all your habits and patterns and behaviors and thoughts and every part of our character is explored. We even had discussions about how our use of our whole being was changing and how that impacted our sexuality. We had discussions about how it might impact an affair with an Alexander teacher. Even though I’ve never had sex with an Alexander teacher, I’ve thought about how it might be different in its quality of being.”
Robert: “I trained in London in the late 1970s and we never talked about sex and the Alexander Technique in the training course but it did happen one day that four male members of my class happened to have tea after class and we all discovered that we had all benefited in that area.”
Constance: “As we change our use of ourselves from [Alexander] lessons, we become less tense. Less held. We become more aware of sensations through the whole self. We might become aware of these undoings or new sensations during sex.”
“My students don’t come to me about sex. I’ve never had a student say to me, ‘Constance, when I was having an orgasm last night, I noticed that I wasn’t tensing my thighs as much.'”
“I would never bring it up myself as a topic to work with in lessons. I would always wait for a student to broach that subject.”
“Tension and contraction is what we humans do when something startles us or we have anxiety or fear. It is an instinctive response when we’re coming towards orgasm. The contractions we have as we’re coming towards orgasm, we can tighten our whole body, and that might create an orgasm faster, but it is interesting to explore the opposite, an undoing. As one is coming towards arousal, one consciously undoes the tightness of the whole body. Not that one does not eventually want the contractions that are so delightful, but as one is going towards that, one can become more sensate and experience the sensations throughout the body as you are releasing and not contracting as much. Tight muscles don’t feel. Freer muscles have the sensation, the skin, the touch, the quality of sensation is more when the muscles are freer.”
Robert: “That ability to release the contraction consciously, that is something that someone who takes Alexander lessons is better able to do.”
Constance: “In lessons, we’re learning a conscious undoing of tension. Usually we’re starting with the head-neck, and the balance of the head-neck, and often we’re going to breath and to this releasing throughout the entire body, even down to the ankles. And we’re applying it to different activities. As I play my violin, I think about releasing through my arms.”
Robert: “And that’s going to be different than someone just saying to himself, ‘I’d like to be more relaxed.’ You need a specific method to release unnecessary tension.”
“If you’re having back pain, that’s going to interfere with your sexuality.”
Constance: “Let’s say you’re just going to have a quickie in the kitchen. You don’t want to be lying around breathing and having sensations for hours. It is the quality of presence that the two lovers bring to the situation. There’s a way of sensing the whole self while connected with partner is something you’re developing as an Alexander student in all areas of your life. You’re learning to listen and to receive.
“Often we think about performance so much that we lose that state. Instead of being tense about am I pleasing her, am I doing it the right way, rather let that presence organically influence what’s happening.”