When I mention the Alexander Technique to people, they often stiffen and push themselves up in a rigid way. “Is this good Alexander Technique?” they often ask.
No, it is not. You’d be better off with your habitual slump, I often answer.
Sitting up straight and standing straight is not Alexander Technique. More often than not, it is not good for you. The back and neck have natural curves in them.
There is no good way to sit. All sitting is bad. Some ways of sitting are better than others. Sitting without back support is usually a much better way of sitting than using back support because it forces your back to work a bit and therefore the muscles there don’t get as soft and the average bloke won’t slump as much.
Orthodox Judaism tends to create more sitting than the average life and as a result, Orthodox Jews tend to be more slumped than the average Joe. It’s rare to find a rabbi who sits, stands and moves elegantly.
Which brings me to this:
This past week marked the yahrtzeit of HaRav HaGaon Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. As noted in my last essay, Art Scroll published last year a revised and expanded edition of their biography of Rav Feinstein entitled, “Reb Moshe” by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman…
“One afternoon, Reb Moshe and Rav Shlomo Heiman sat for a while ‘talking in learning.’ When their discussion concluded and Reb Moshe left, Reb Shlomo turned to Rav Dovid Bender and said, ‘Do you know why Reb Moshe is becoming a gadol hador? Because his back never touches the back of his chair while he learns.’
“Decades later, Rav Binyomin Kamenetsky accompanied his father Reb Yaakov to a meeting of senior roshei yeshivah. During the discussions Reb Yaakov repeatedly referred to Reb Moshe not by name but exclusively with the title Rosh Yeshiva.
“When asked on the way home by his son Binyomin to explain why he directed his remarks in this manner, Reb Yaakov’s answer was direct, ‘Have you ever seen Reb Moshe lean back in a chair?’