On average, people are sitting 9.3 hours a day. Stress, anxiety, and chronic pain are epidemic. When you collapse at the computer, in your car, or out in the world, you CANNOT breathe freely and easily, which also means:
You have less energy You have less focus You have less courage You have less confidence You’re more guarded from others You feel exhausted You feel small
And the real problem is that most of this behavior is unconscious, habitual, and FEELS NORMAL, but it’s not healthy and it’s not living.
Practicing a new way of moving and breathing through life means you release years of compression and holding in your body. You get to let go and take up space.
Sucking in your stomach and “standing up straight” with all your muscles prevents your diaphragm from moving freely and easily. Your diaphragm moves like a parachute or a jellyfish and most of that movement is around the level of your waist. You can see in the above image that most of the diaphragm is in the back, not in the chest.
If it is time to understand how your body breathes you and experience confidence, calm, and energy of well-coordinated body and breath, then consider training in the Alexander Technique.
Chronic ongoing pain is of course the most obvious sign. But there are other not-so-subtle messages your body gives you when it needs more care and attention.
Dislike of you own body
Sleeplessness Exhaustion An Inability to Relax Fidgetiness Grouchiness or Short Temper No Desire to Socialize No Desire to Get Out of Bed Can’t Exercise And more….
The biggest problem I observe is that most people are not listening to the screams or cries for help from their bodies. They push through, take pain medications, don’t rest, work harder and scream back a their bodies.
This aggressive approach to the body does not heal pain. Your kinesthetic sense, aka your body awareness, is a messenger. If you are in the habit of not listening to your body, you will only become aware of hurting yourself at the end of the day when you are tight, can’t move, and even breathing feels difficult.
In every Alexander Technique session, I have my clients spend time in Semi-Supine position (laying on back with knees bent). During this time, my client is learning how to listen to their body, how to quiet and calm the nervous system, and how to release muscular tension related to their response to pain.
Semi-Supine is supportive of a long spine, a balanced body, and free and easy breathing. This makes learning to listen to your body easier. Sometimes, just in the act of spending quiet, still, awake time with your own body, pain messages can quiet down and you experience stress relief as well. Ignoring the “screams” from your body ensures that your body will get “louder” meaning stronger pain sensations and more discomfort.
Alexander Technique offers a kinder and gentler approach to the body. You learn to move gently and with mindfulness. You learn to be aware of how you are moving your body and how you are holding painful patterns of tension so that you can release them. With the gentle hands-on guidance, you learn to soothe yourself and soothe your body.
As you go through your day, take the time to STOP and listen to your body. Follow your body’s guidance. It is time for a kinder, gentler approach to our bodies. If this sounds right to you, then sign up for our free video series:
As you go through your day, take the time to STOP and listen to your body. Follow your body’s guidance. It is time for a kinder, gentler approach to our bodies. Want to live fully and breathe for life? Train in the Alexander Technique.
Many of my Alexander Technique clients do because they want to increase their mindfulness and they often ask me about their meditation posture. Most people are either too collapsed, trying to feel relaxed, or they are too stiff, trying to sit up straight with a lot of muscular tension. This makes the body a distraction in meditation.
Robert G. is an entrepreneur who just finished taking the 10 week Foundational course in the Alexander Technique with me. During his final session, we looked at his meditation posture. I would like to share some of the guiding principles that allowed him to have such an open, upright, and relaxed meditation posture.
“The most surprising aspect of applying Alexander Technique to my meditation posture was paying attention to the means-whereby, or HOW, I moved into the posture. Staying aware of my body breathing while I moved into mediation was essential to not tensing or collapsing my torso.” Robert G.
Here are a few guidelines to help you have a meditation posture (you can apply these to sitting in a chair too) that will eliminate distracting body aches and tension and support a focused, clear, and calm mind:
*Breathe out slowly even as you are bending down (even getting into a chair). Unconsciously holding your breath tightens muscles of your throat, chest, back, and abdomen. Breathing out slowly ensures that you are aware of your body and allowing the muscles of your body to loose and long.
*Have your knees lower than your hips. Most people have tight hips and a tight low back. If your knees are lower than your hips, your hip muscles won’t pull on your low back forward and down into a slouch. This allows your spine to also lengthen.
*Allow the mask of your face and your chin to slowly and gently move down. This lengthens the back of your neck and also, lengthens your spine. You especially do not want the back of your head falling towards your neck and shoulders.
*Allow your abdominal wall to release into length. Your sternum and your pubic bone release away from each other. Most people do not know that when they collapse and shorten the abdominal wall, they are collapsing the spine.
*Finally, you do not want to hyper extend the spine by arching your back. Many people think that to have a straight spine they have to squeeze the back muscles and arch it. This overworks the muscles. They get fatigued. Then, you get uncomfortable and start fidgeting.
These physical practices will give you spine, diaphragm, and muscles the support they need so your body won’t distract you. You will have more space inside your torso for the movement of breath, which will soothe and calm your nervous system. Now you are ready for the deep work of meditation.
Most people think that breathing and posture are two separate functions. They either try to “Stand Up Straight!” or they try to “Take a Deep Breath” Both strategies interfere with the natural uprightness of your spine and your body’s ability to easily move with your breath.
Are you making these mistakes?
1) Breathing in by lifting your chest and shoulders. This requires many muscles in upper body to grip and tighten and prevents your diaphragm from moving properly in order to for breath to enter your lungs. This habit stiffens your alignment as well.
2) Holding your breath. Holding your breath actually requires your muscles to work hard. You will also start to feel frantic, panicky, anxious, and/or nervous. Your breath rate will go up and you may even be hurting your back. Your posture will be diminished because all of your muscles are squeezing.
3) Sucking in your belly & controlling the breath. Your body breathes better than you do. If you are trying to breathe deeply while holding in your belly, you are interfering with your body’s natural breathing coordination.
These mistakes can not only cause physical pain but also evoke nervousness, fear, and anxiety. Your voice is also squelched. Letting breath out releases muscles and allows your body to take care of you. Your BODY breathes better than you.
If your breathing seems difficult, your body is tense, and your voice is strained, the Alexander Technique may be the solution.