About Whole Bodied

Meet Graeson

 
 

Here's how Graeson is qualified to help you or your organization become Whole Bodied

Graeson Harris-Young combines expert knowledge in anthropology, education, psychology and biology with professional training as an Alexander Technique teacher and as a stage improviser to provide smart, evidence-based teaching and consulting that adapts to meet each individual's and organization's needs. His passion, compassion and curiosity make for warm, committed service and exceptional problem-solving. His wholehearted educational philosophy is based on the fundamental notion that human beings are enormously capable and is guided by belief in wisdom, compassion and courage.

Graeson is certified by the American Society for the Alexander Technique to teach the Alexander Technique after having completed the requisite 3-year postgraduate training with Daria Okugawa. He is currently completing his master's thesis and thereafter will hold a Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from DePaul University, where he studied embodied education. He has assisted Alexander Technique courses at Roosevelt University and Columbia College in Chicago for theater, musical theater and dance undergraduates. He has been an improviser for over ten years, and has trained at San Diego TheatreSports, iO Chicago, and The Annoyance Theater in Chicago. He also studied voice and singing for many years with Eleonor England, though now mostly sings jazz standards as lullabies for his daughter.

Graeson has also worked as an anthropologist, most recently doing research and analysis for a group of charter schools in Chicago. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Anthropology from Humboldt State University, where he also received minors in Psychology and Zoology. As an undergraduate, he did graduate-level teaching and research in biological anthropology. He taught people how their skeletons are shaped by their lives, how medicine and illness are informed by our evolutionary past, and about the epic of human evolution. He studied monkey bones in museums around the world, did his best to keep up with monkey troops in Costa Rica, and dug for the earliest evidence of fire and modern human gait in Kenya while observing ongoing studies of barefoot Kenyan runners.

He feels called to use his broad knowledge of human functioning and his professional training to reduce needless suffering and lost potential in this disembodied world, and founded Whole Bodied to work toward that goal.

Graeson is lucky to be supported by his wife, Becky, who is a labor and delivery nurse at Sharp Grossmont, and his daughter, Clementine, who is a much better movement teacher than he is.

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Here's his story and why he founded Whole Bodied

"I know what it is to feel like my body can't. To feel out of control, to feel incapable, to feel paralyzed by pain and fear. 

I was not a coordinated youth. I was terrible at sports (the stereotypical last pick), told I couldn't dance, and perennially failed the President's Youth Fitness Test in my physical education class. I came to believe that I just "wasn't good at physical stuff," which is no surprise when you continually fail at such things and nobody tells you any different, much less give you the help you need to get better.

It did not have to be this way. You can see from the first two pictures below that like most young children I possessed good coordination. As a baby, I sat easily upright on my mother's arm with my head poised on the end of my spine, my chest open and my arms free, and as a child I stood with similar ease and poise. Sometime between then and becoming the preteen in the third picture (and growing an impressive braid), things began to change. In this picture, you can see that my shoulders are bunched upward, my head is pulled back and down onto my spine, and I'm hunched forward. 

Of course, there are many successful young athletes with poor postural coordination (although likely not as successful as they could be). Postural miscoordination is only part of the story. But this combination had me on a path toward chronic pain, inactivity and disconnection from the pleasures of a healthy, skilled body.

When I was introduced to the Alexander Technique at fourteen years old and helped to correct that basic coordination, I got so much more than an inch and a half of lost height and a stronger singing voice. I gained confidence, but even that was not the most important part. The most important thing is that I had been given the tools to help myself: I had learned how to learn with my body, and although it has been a longer process to let go of the stories I used to tell myself ("You can't hit a baseball!" was the most recent to go, when I visited a batting cage and by applying what I know was able tohit the ball every time), I was truly empowered.

Nearly a decade later, after starting work in an office setting, I was struck by months of debilitating neck pain -- the kind that would keep me in bed some days. I tried the usual gamut of treatments, from massage to strengthening to stretching to medication. I finally, thankfully, remembered the Alexander Technique, and during a single lesson we resolved my pain. This single lesson wasn't magical; it refreshed me of the skill I already had.

Today, I make my living by helping people with "physical stuff." I perform with my whole body as an improviser, unpredictably doing anything and everything. Each time I take myself out on a hike or pick up a shovel in the garden, it is an opportunity to get to know my body even better. When I sing, I can ask my whole body for support. When I carry my daughter, I don't hurt myself. I still don't think much of myself as a dancer (being Whole Bodied is an ongoing process!), but I know now that with the right help, I could."