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How do you bend?
When you’re washing your face, loading the dishwasher, picking up your shoes, lifting a plant pot…
We spend a good chunk of our time bending. But it’s the ‘how’.
We were given three joints to bend or lower our upright bodies: hips, knees and ankles. So often, adults will bend with their spines. Ouch! There’s no joint there for bending. The back dislikes it and then we add to the load by picking up something heavy. Not good!
In the Alexander Technique we look at how we bent so naturally as most young children do. Remember we were all little once. All that’s happened is we’ve developed new, sometimes harmful habits in the way we move. The nature of a habit is it falls below the level of our consciousness. Great news is we can unlearn habits.
In my world, we call bending ‘monkey’, or the technical term is ‘position of mechanical advantage’. The fantastic thing about bending in this way, is not only does it save the back from potential injury, but is strengthens it, by using the intrinsic deep muscles of the back in exactly the way nature intended.
If you find bending a pain and want to have a new freedom in the way you bend, try an taster Alexander Technique lesson to see if it’s for you.
I offer a free, 15-minute consultation if you’d like a no obligation online chat. You can book this online, or call or message me on 07949083629 ... See MoreSee Less
Such an amazing technique.
Working From Home: Heaven or Hell?
We’re in Lockdown 3, which means those who can, have to work from home.
Before the pandemic, some of us would dream of the idea of WFH. No commuting, less interruptions, more time with the family. However, the reality can be much less enjoyable than the idea.
Many of us miss the camaraderie of working alongside our colleagues, the support at work, a decent workstation and fast internet, to mention just a few.
We’re nearly there. A vaccine is around the corner and hopefully soon, we’ll get back to some normality. In the meantime, if you’re feeling frayed at the edges what can you do to help yourself?
As an Alexander Teacher, I teach mindfulness in activity. You can apply mindfulness whilst you're working, rather than having to sit cross legged concentrating on an object.
Here’s a few tips and tricks to try:
Sitting at the computer: check your feet are on the floor, you’re sitting on your sitting bones, the screen is at eye level and your back is supported. Set an alarm on your phone for 20 minutes. Then off you go. When the alarm goes off, it’ll probably feel like only 10 minutes have passed! See how you are. Have you crossed your legs? Slumped in the chair? Poked your head forwards towards the screen?
No matter. Have a reset, look around the room, stretch your arms above your head and then off you go again for another 20 minutes and so on. This will help your brain to wake up and let you know when things are getting out of kilter.
Take some deep breaths: breathe in through your nose (imagine you are smelling a rose) and breathe out through your mouth (imagine you’re blowing a little feather across the room). Repeat 3 times. This can be enough to reset the breathing and increase the oxygen to the brain. It also has a calming effect.
When it’s time to take a break, find 10 minutes of your break time to lie on your back, on a carpeted floor with your head resting on a couple of paperback books, knees bent. Allow your body to ‘come to quiet’. Notice the support you have from the floor and the book, observe your breathing, notice what you can see, hear and feel. We call this active rest. When practised daily, its fantastic for the whole mind and body and settles down the body’s central nervous system . Another plus is it acts as a re-charge and can help you with the next part of your working day. To top it all, its free. You don’t need any special equipment or to go anywhere (apart from away from other family members).
If you’d like to find out more about how the Alexander Technique can transform your life, please contact me for a free online consultation, without obligation to take it any further. What do you have to lose, apart from some excess tension? ... See MoreSee Less
Now to sleep…..
It’s probably one of the most important things for health and wellbeing. Far too frequently, habits of excess tension we hold during our waking hours come with us when we take to our beds.
Apart from the usual sleep hygiene advice: go to bed and get up at the same time, sleep in a dark, well ventilated room, don’t use screens at night, reduce caffeine intake in the afternoon. What else can we do to help us get a good night’s sleep?
I am often asked about pillows and which is the best. It really is a matter of choice and what your particular body likes. Experiment with different set ups. If you have neck pain, pillows which are too high may exacerbate it. If you have shoulder issues, one flat pillow may not help. Some people swear by memory foam pillows or moulded pillows. Remember, if you go for a shaped, moulded pillows, there are different ones depending on whether you’re a side or back sleeper.
If you suffer from lower back pain, try sleeping with a pillow between your knees when you’re side sleeping. This can really help. It’s a bit of a faff as you have to take it with you when you turn over, but may well be worth the effort.
So you’re all tucked in, ready to get some shut-eye, but you feel tense. First thing to observe is what are you doing with your shoulders? Are they pushed up towards your ears? If they are, don’t push them down, just think about softening them.
Observe your hands? Are they screwed up in a fist? Let the excess tension in your hands go.
Scan the rest of your body. Where you notice any tension, apply your thinking to it. Think clearly that you want to let go of excess tension. Remember ‘though, muscles don’t go to sleep. They maintain tone, even when we’re fast asleep. That’s why we can jump out of bed in an emergency.
I’m not a fan of the word, ‘relax’, simply because if you try and ‘do’ it, it often doesn’t work. Think of less tension in a particular body part, or ‘softening’ or ‘quieting’ it.
Last, but definitely not least, observe your breathing. Take a couple of deep breaths. Let the in-breath go right down the pelvic floor. The out-breath travels up the torso. This can be enough to re-set the breathing mechanism.
Have you got the chatterbox going in your brain? ‘I need to get milk from the shop, I must remember to send that email to such and such, what’s happening next week? Will it be okay? I’m worried about…..
How can you quieten the chatterbox so you can get yourself off to sleep? Try this:
Notice 3 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can see.
2 things you can feel, 2 things you can hear, 2 things you can see.
1 thing you can see, hear, feel.
This little game will quieten the chatterbox in your brain, as you’re gently bringing you mind into the present moment.
Good Night and God Bless…. ... See MoreSee Less
Brilliant post! The Alexander Technique made me realise how tense I was in daily life, causing my long-standing neck/shoulder issues. It was then I realised the tension was carried into my sleep! Something I'd not noticed before, so it's now helped my sleep too! 😁 A game-changer for me.
I sleep with one pillow now after years of muscle tension between my shoulder blades, I’m going to try your technique tonight Andy, sounds like a good one x thanks for this.
Brenda Procter this is what we chatted about the other day. 🙂
Would u like me to share the? I love the little dog. I sometimes sleep like a foetus with my hand against my throat. Not sure if I used to or whether 2020 started it off.