Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Do Westerners Go Through Life With Their Heads Tipped Back?

Luke Ford writes: If your head is tipped back, even half an inch, as opposed to resting on top of your spine in a poised even position, your mobility and sensory awareness will be seriously effected.

There are more joints in your neck than any other part of your body, so when you tip the head back and consequently compress the neck, this act sends layers of compression rippling throughout the body. As a result, movement, speech and breathing becomes more difficult.

On page 118 of the second volume of his book, The First 43 Years Of The Life Of F.M. Alexander, Jeroen Staring summarizes an important part of his first volume:

This habit, this tradition, this attitude, of tilting the head back and down is unconsciously learned by children in ‘Western’ countries. It is an unconsciously learned ‘mannerism’ and it almost becomes a second nature to people in ‘industrialized’ countries to permanently bear their heads tilted back and down, once they grow to maturity. This ‘mannerism’ is closely related with the use of artefacts while eating. At present, almost everybody in ‘Western’ societies uses forks at the table. Not using them is called ‘uncivilized behavior.’ In case we see somebody eating with his fingers, we get feelings of disgust, or worse. We teach our children to eat with forks, and while we have forgotten that the fork originated as a symbol of distinction we tell our children that it is not hygienic to use fingers instead of forks. In Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating, anthropologist George Armelagos and science-writer Peter Farb draw attention to a physiological and functional anatomical consequence of using forks at the table. They state that gatherers and hunters use their front teeth less as cutting tools than as clamps. The bite of gatherers and hunters, “both today and in the past,” is one where the upper and lower incisors meet edge-to-edge, “like a pair of pincers.”