Here is a very brief description of the Alexander Technique...
It is an empowering, practical mindfulness method, in which you learn to be more aware of how you function and react to daily life mentally, physically and emotionally. In our busy daily lives we often pay little attention to how we are carrying out an action, whether that be walking, climbing the stairs, digging the garden or cooking for example - instead we tend to focus simply on the end result. Unconscious 'misuse' often comes about due to stress, time pressure, or maybe discomfort, and over time this misuse becomes our normal, habitual way of being.
These unconscious habits can trap us in our thinking process, our emotional reactions and in the physical tensions and stress patterns which lead to discomfort and pain in the body. As you read these words, perhaps you notice yourself poking your head towards them. When driving, how do you react when someone coming towards you ignores the fact that it is your right of way?! The technique can help us to notice all these habits and have the opportunity to change them and the way we respond to everyday life. Many health problems are the result of the way we use ourselves.
Please note I no longer teach the Alexander Technique as a stand alone, but incorporate many aspects of it in a massage session where and when appropriate.
In the picture below I demonstrate the semi supine, or constructive rest position. This position is marvellously restorative to our whole selves, and when done regularly is one of the best exercises for maintaining a healthy back and spine. It can help to relieve back, neck and shoulder tension, leading to decreased pain and discomfort along with aiding breathing and digestion, reducing stress, promoting relaxation and giving us an opportunity to simply stop. It can make a huge difference and I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try, ideally for 20 minutes at a time but even just five minutes a day will be beneficial.
So, to give it a go, find somewhere warm where you won't be distracted (including by dogs and cats!!), and take your time to arrive on the floor - the surface needs to be comfortable yet firm; a carpeted floor is ideal but by all means put a blanket down first. Place some books under your head - aiming for your forehead to be slightly higher than your chin. Too few books and your head will drop back, interfering with the releasing process. Place your feet a comfortable distance away from your body, around hip width apart, and aim to find a balance between being able to release your legs and hips but without your knees lolling to the sides. Noticing the contact of your feet on the floor can be useful here; we want the contact to be pretty even across the width of the feet. Keep your eyes open softly, not staring.
Take your time to settle and 'arrive' in your body, then notice your contact with the floor and your head on the books; the places making a lot of contact such as your shoulder blades, pelvis, feet and head, and the areas making less contact such as in your lower back. You are not trying to make anything happen, just allowing things to let go. Simply allow yourself to be supported by the floor. Perhaps notice what is around you: sounds, what you can see, what's in your peripheral vision... When your mind wanders gently bring your attention back to the here and now, simply noticing. You may find the following thoughts (definitely not actions) useful: be aware of the distance between the crown of your head and your coccyx, or tail bone. Notice the width of your pelvis underneath your hands. Notice the distance between your knees and pelvis, knees and feet; thinking of your knees floating up towards the ceiling. Notice the width across your collar bones and the distance between your elbows and spine, perhaps being aware of space in your armpits. Notice the movement of your ribcage as you breathe...
When you decide to move, take care to slowly and mindfully roll your head, then shoulders, then the rest of you over onto your side and around onto your knees and then come up to standing. It might help to think of it being a releasing, spiralling, flowing movement, with no need to tighten or pull yourself up. I do hope you find this useful and feel the benefits.
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