Sunday January 5 I completed Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing Certification for Alexander Technique teachers. This training is only for Alexander Technique teachers who have taught for at least 5 years.
The training focused on breathing coordination and the redevelopment of the diaphragm integrated with the Alexander Technique.
What brought me to Alexander Technique 15 years ago was chronic and excruciating hip and low back pain which I now know was associated with scoliosis.
I didn’t have extreme scoliosis but enough of a curve in my spine which led to tension, stress, and pain. This pattern of tension and pain led to a myriad of downward pulls that cranked my shoulder up to my neck, curved my spine and ribs to the right, and yanked my left ribs down into my left hip and leg.
Unconsciously, these habits hindered my free breath and the development of my ribs and diaphragm.
I had worked with Jessica in workshops and every time I FELT the curves and twists of my spine and the asymmetry throughout my ribs. With just a taste of freedom and release throughout my spine, ribs, and hips, I could tell that my left low back and ribs had the potential to move and release.
There was an old pattern of collapse and rigidity that was interfering with my vital capacity (the amount of air that can be taken in by the lungs). Unravelling the torque in my spine altered not only my physical state, but also my emotional and psychological experiences.
During one of my last sessions with Jessica, my left low back and ribs started to move not because I was doing something or forcing them to move but because I stopped gripping and tightening the muscles that were chronically locking my ribs and low back.
What an overwhelming sense of bliss. I experienced energy or a feeling of a vibration tingling from my back down my leg. My stress levels dropped and I felt a connection to my self and my sense of well-being. What a relief!
I have been a AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher for 10.5 years and now I am integrating Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing into my work with clients who want a powerful and pain free body, a resonant voice.
Redeveloping the diaphragm and bringing conscious awareness to breathing coordination can help people suffering from respiratory difficulties like asthma or emphysema or unleash the power and resonant voices of actors, lawyers, or public speakers.
For more information regarding breathing coordination and Alexander Technique, email info@AlexanderTechniqueLA.com.
Two days ago, I was with a client who asked me “What do you do right before you go on stage?” From years of working on stage in dance, theater, and public speaking, I know that a thorough warm-up gets my energy flowing and my voice sparkling clear. But, what I really do the moment right before I walk on stage is remember that I am giving the audience a beautiful gift!
When you give a great gift to a loved one, you feel eager and excited to give it to them. There is a warmth in your heart that opens you to the other person. There is no tension in your shoulders or strain in your voice. You don’t need anything from the recipient and their smile and joy is what gives you satisfaction.
When you walk into an audition, pitch meeting, or interview, you have a great opportunity to GIVE YOUR GIFT. Your words, your energy, your time, your dedication, and your passion are a gift you give to your audience. When you are giving the gift of wisdom, your body is grounded, open, and confident. Your voice is warm and it fills the room. Your audience is engaged and curious because who doesn’t want a really great gift?!
In an audition, pitch meeting, or interview, people make the mistake of believing that their audience is judging them. Many auditioners will have the body language of a scared and hurt victim. When you remember that you are giving a gift that they have never received,
You no longer need to protect yourself
You don’t need to be pushy.
You don’t have to seek their approval by leaning in towards them.
You are more open to what they need to hear from you.
The warmth in your heart will carry your message into the room through an empowered and resonant voice.
Giving the gift of YOUR message removes any nervousness or worry that you may mess up or they won’t like you.
Giving the gift of your passion sets an example for everyone around you who also has a vital message to share with this world. Give your gift and inspire your audience to take action, motivate your viewers to change, and impact the lives of thousands of people around the world through film, television, or public speaking.
When I share the gift of Alexander Technique freely and generously, I see dramatic changes in my clients. I empower my clients to boldly enter any high-stakes situations with pleasure, confidence, and composure. They feel at home in their own skin and their voices communicate professionalism and power.
Ivana Shein, an actor and writer here in Los Angeles, schedules a session with me just a few hours before she steps on stage. Now, she is giving her gifts BIG TIME! This is what she said about her sessions before her one woman show:
“It was an absolute pleasure to be on stage (after my session with you). I was able to let go of the stress of producing my show and switch into my true creative mind that is in my body. It was grounded. I felt more available and free to have fun! Constructive Rest and Alexander Technique have become a important part of my pre-performance ritual. Sharon’s ability to make a performer to feel totally present, vibrant, and grounded is truly beyond comparison.”
Ivana Shein brings her one woman show “Faking It” from the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal to Los Angeles.
Faking It is a raucous look at what it takes to belong. Legally. To a country. It’s about how Ivana got her Visa. And also how she lived before her Visa. It’s about Hollywood. Living in it, living outside of it, and sneaking into it by accident. (Dates, location, time, and to purchase tickets are on the flyer to your right)
If you are looking to give your gifts and talents freely, vibrantly, and openly, it’s time to train in the Alexander Technique. Find out about Private and Individualized sessions by visiting www.AlexanderTechniqueLA.com/privatesessions and call (310) 383- 1796 to schedule your Introductory Session.
Self-Sabotage Solutions: Sharon Jakubecy and the Alexander Technique
by: Michelle Luchese www.MichelleLuchese.com
”Just wanted to let you know, that my first audition back I was thinking about everything you taught me and walked in with confidence and just innately took a breath before beginning and I booked it!! It’s a Co-Star on True Blood and I’m so excited, thank you so much!! What an awesome way to start off 2011. I just had to tell you!”
-Michelle Luchese www.MichelleLuchese.com who played the role of young woman who is an anti-vampire campaigner in the fourth season of True Blood
So often we walk into an audition room and clench up only to have inhibited the very gifts they have asked us to show them! What do you do to stop this constant innate self-sabotage? Well I found a lady with some answers, people, and here is what Sharon Jakubecy’s expertise taught me today!
Sharon first approached me about checking out one of her private Alexander Technique classes for my blog and I was more than happy to stop by and see exactly what this technique I’d always heard of, was actually all about. Now I can officially say, Sharon has taught me the art of allowing my body to tell me how to relax.
We started by learning how to relax the head into it’s natural upright position, trying to get away from this thing that had somehow become habitual. Checking out my normal everyday walk in her mirror, we noticed that my head was darting forward in some sort of attack mode! Once I understood not where specifically I needed to move my head to fix this, but how to relax into the correct position, we talked about the differences between what my body naturally wants to do and that of which I could do with all the extra space in my lungs if I just freed up and allowed my body to be centered, grounded, and full of breath. It seems that starts with just allowing your head to find it’s proper place, all through relaxation, as opposed to forcing it into some unfamiliar territory.
It’s amazing how resilient the body is. I was afraid the slump in which I had allowed myself to hangout had become my new posture, but not so. With Sharon’s adjustments through light touching to some tension points, I found a healthy, strong, centered stride and was on my way. She has this amazing bullshit-detecting mirror in her studio and she had me going back to my previous slump position as we worked, so as to see the progress. It was fascinating! Not only did I feel so much more in my power, I looked it too!
Sharon asked where and when my clenching usually occurs and I said that first few minutes in the room at auditions. So we did a couple mock auditions, coming in centered, then again coming in flustered from being late but taking just a second to catch my breathe and center myself just before opening the door. And what I walked out of her door with, was a whole new idea of what confident and grounded means. It’s not just a state of mind people-oh no-it’s an actual thing you can practice and ask your body to keep reinforcing. I’m so excited to use it next time I audition!!
(And she did it!) If you have a big audition, pitch meeting, or interview, call TODAY to set up your Introductory Alexander Technique session. CALL (310) 383-1796 for information and to schedule your first session.
When CIA agent Evelyn Salt is in the room, everyone takes notice! The question throughout the movie is, “Is she a mole or a double agent?” It’s so hard to tell because Salt, is elegant and graceful in her body, no matter who’s in the room. Angelina Jolie was excellent casting for this role, as she didn’t have to use any acting tricks to convince us she can ‘own a room.’
Standing out and ‘owning the room’ is an art unto itself, and a very necessary one if you want to attract networking opportunities, job opportunities, and create great marketing tools. What makes some people stand out while others go unnoticed? The obvious answer would be, confidence. Yet, plenty of people who lack self-confidence do a great job of ‘owning a room.’ If you’re shy or feel you lack self-confidence, you probably can’t imagine how simple it can be to stand out simply by using your body correctly. Because there is a much cheaper and faster route that a decade in therapy, I’ve asked Alexander Technique Expert, Sharon Jakubecy, to give you five tips for in her words to, “Gracefully inspire the people you are meeting”:
1) Take your time and slow down even as you are walking from your car to the building. When you take your time while walking through a door, you make a powerful entrance because you already look and feel more confident. If Salt was rushed, she would blow her cover. A rushed person makes everyone else feel uncomfortable. Taking a beat to slow down allows you to be physically loose, fluid, open, and graceful. Magnetic, even.
2) Before you walk into an audition, pitch meeting, or interview, let breath out of your mouth, in a whispered Ahhhh. Most people will say “Breathe!” This command usually evokes a desperate gasp for breath that only makes you more tense. Letting breath out on a whispered Ahhh slows your breath rate, which slows your heart rate, which calms your nervous system. Your body’s natural breathing coordination can kick in and do its job. You think more clearly. Your eyes are brighter. And you have great energy when you make an entrance.
Watch this video for a demonstration so you can Own the Room!
3) Look into the horizon instead of down at the floor. Your eyes have a huge impact on your posture, your perception, and your confidence. Looking into a room makes you look taller and more open. You can literally see more of the world and more of the people you want to connect with. You will also feel powerful and confident because you are no longer “hiding” by looking down at the floor. Your spine is longer and your chest and shoulders are wider. Everyone can see you and you can own the room.
4) Stand on both legs at hips-width distance. What do your legs have to do with your confidence? Everything! Your legs are literally your foundation. If you are collapsed on one hip with most of your weight on one leg, you are not grounded and it is harder to breathe. Standing on both legs gives your body structural support; you can breathe easier and you are taller. When you are grounded, you can make quick decisions, respond creatively to networking opportunities, and take bold actions to market yourself.
5) Release UP to your full height. Most people relate confidence with great posture AND most people will try to stand up straight by lifting their chin, tightening their neck and back muscles, squeezing their shoulder blades together, holding their breath, and locking their knees. Try this. It does not feel confident, more like an uptight soldier. Your full height, your most powerful stature, your expansiveness happens when you let go in the muscles of your neck, shoulders, back, legs, and abdomen. You are taller and more open when you release muscular effort. You stand out in a crowd and easily attract the people and opportunities that will propel you to success.
If you want to Own the Room,
1. Practice the exercises Sharon suggests. Get them into your physiology BEFORE you are in a high stress situation
Having a greater understanding of how to your body functions best, is an important success strategy. Imagine exuding Salt’s confidence with a simple Ahhhhhhh.
2. Check out coaching sessions with Sharon and experience a Total Transformation in your body language and voice at http://alexandertechniquela.com/privatesessions/
You can also find Jessica Sitomer, The Greenlight Coach, at www.TheGreenlightCoach.com
Just before CARmageddon in Los Angeles in 2011, I was interviewed at the NPR studios to help listeners with traffic-related stress. Taking care of yourself while driving helps you stay calm, focused and at-ease during any crazy traffic jams you find yourself in. Check out the link to the NPR story by Mandalit Del Barco that aired the Friday before the 405 was to be closed for an entire weekend: http://www.npr.org/2011/07/14/137838936/i-405s-closure-will-be-a-nightmare-for-l-a-drivers
Fortunately, CArmageddon was not the disaster the city officials thought it would be. However, on your way to that important meeting or audition, you still get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with people who are in to much of a hurry and without any patience. You get stressed out, agitated, and your back starts to kill you.
“Grrrrrr! What are all of these people doing on the road? Where could they possibly be going at this hour? What does that guy think he is doing? He is driving like a lunatic! I have been driving for 30 minutes and have only gone 8 miles! “
Driving is a necessary evil in Los Angeles. Every day, the mean travel time to work for Angelenos is just about 30 minutes. Both ways is an hour. Add on driving to the kids’ school, to the bank, the grocery store, and maybe even a trip to the gym and Angelenos are spending close to 2 hours in the car. While driving, many of my students complain about hip and lower back pain, neck stiffness, frustration, stress, and downright exasperation. During their lesson, we look at how they are using themselves while they are driving and how they can undo the destructive tension that makes this everyday activity so unpleasant and painful.
Betsy Salkind is a comedian and writer in LA (www.BetsySalkind.com). In one of her very first lessons, we went out to her car and investigated what she was doing that made her neck ache and her head explode. While she was driving, Betsy was slouching forward, collapsing her ribcage and spine. This position required her neck muscles to contract pulling the weight of her head back and down. She was forward of the structural support of her pelvis, so her hip joints were compressed. Her neck hurt. Her shoulders hurt. Her hips hurt.
It is possible to drive without compression and strain. For Betsy, we arranged her position in the car seat so that she let her head, neck, and back release back and up away from the steering wheel. The back of her head was supported by the headrest, which needed to be adjusted so that it didn’t tilt forward. With her head supported by her spine, which was now long, her neck muscles were no longer straining to hold her head up. Her ribcage had room to move with her breath. **Here is an amazing little secret weapon that will help you to eliminate tension while driving** She held the steering wheel with the pinky side of her hand which helped her to stay supported by her back.
Now when she is driving Betsy doesn’t want to slouch because it makes the experience so much more stressful. She sits tall, doesn’t hold her breath, and lets her pelvis and back support her entire body.
By making these simple choices for yourself, you too can drive in LA traffic without pain and stress.
If you have been stressed and in pain while driving, try these tips and leave a comment. You can also share this article with colleagues and loved-ones who suffer when they drive.
Your lunch break is an ideal time to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries. It’s too easy to skip it or just rush to get food and throw it down your throat without giving yourself a true break.
I contributed to an article in Inc.com titled “24 Rejuvenating Ways to Spend Your Lunch Break” by Christina Desmarais. Number 1 on her list (my contribution) is “Get Horizontal.”
“Desk workers tend to slouch, which compresses the spine and ribs, impedes proper breathing, and tightens neck and shoulder muscles. “Laying on your back in semisupine position with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor for 10 to 20 minutes allows the muscles of your neck to release, your chest and shoulders to widen, and your whole body to undo tension built up throughout the morning. You rise feeling light, open, and destressed,” says Los Angeles–based Sharon Jakubecy, who teaches people how to have a powerful presence and communicate confidently through something called the Alexander Technique.”
You can read the other 23 recommendations by visiting the link HERE.
You can also watch the video below demonstrating Constructive Rest then try it during your lunch break.
After Constructive Rest, you have released tight stressed muscles, allowed your body to breathe freely, and calmed your nervous system. You are ready for the rest of your day. You have energy to accomplish your goals. Some of my clients say it’s better than a power nap!
Share your comments below. How does doing Constructive Rest prepare you for the second half of your day? Let us know.
Your body releases the supercharged hormone and neurotransmitter, adrenaline, when you have to slam on your brakes, get out ofthe way, or run for cover. It also releases it when you are stressed out, on a deadline, and have to speak in front of a group.
This RUSH triggers the FIGHT-or-FLIGHT response which turns off bodily functions such as digestion and increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood flow to muscles: all good things when you have to escape from a burning car.
However, when the stakes are high, FIGHT-or-FLIGHT can destroy any chances of effectively delivering your pitch, getting board approval, or making the deal.
Speaking in front of the board, pitching to your clients, or presenting to your colleagues is demanding and can trigger some of these more subtle and off-putting reactions:
1. Clenched Jaw
2. High-pitched Voice
3. Scattered Thinking
4. Locked Knees
5. Hunched Posture
6. Tight Throat – Can’t get your words out
7. Fidgeting or Clumsy Movements
8. Rushed or Fumbled Speaking
These symptoms will also make your listeners uncomfortable. They won’t take you seriously.
Being able to identify your own Fight-or-Flight
Response, and then, ground yourself enables you to communicate your expertise and think quickly on your feet. You can utilize the energy and the excitement of your adrenaline rush to connect to your colleagues or clients and get them “on board.”
Try these strategies when you experience an overpowering Adrenaline Rush:
1. Slow down.
2. Pay more attention to breath going out.
3. Feel your feet on the floor.
4. Open your eyes instead of squinting.
5. Stand tall and let your shoulders be wide
6. Let your ribs move with your breath.
Taking these action steps to calm yourself in a high-stakes situation makes you look, feel, and sound confident. Instead of feeling like you were in a car wreck, your colleagues and clients will be eager and enthusiastic to pat you on the back, shake your hand, and start your project!
Comment below and share what situations trigger your adrenaline rush!
Sharon Jakubecy (www.AlexanderTechniqueLA.com) is a speaker and Alexander Technique teacher for thought leaders, executives, and public speakers so they are calm, confident, and dynamic in high-stakes speaking events, interviews, and presentations. She has been featured on NPR, The Huffington Post, The Hollywood Weekly, and Backstage as a stress management and Performance expert.
This article was published in CareerBliss and written by Ritika Trikha. I was a guest expert speaking about women owning their full height and how it affects their confidence in the workplace. When I work with my Alexander Technique clients, they discover their true height which is much less work than the typical Stand Up Straight posture. My clients who have to walk into meetings and communicate their expertise learn how to Own the Room with their Power Pose. They are far more aware of their body language, how they tense when they are nervous, and how to release and open. Read the article below:
Are Taller Women More Successful At Work
by Ritika Trikha
Researchers do concede, though, that there may not be a direct link between height and success.
However, “tall people may have greater self-esteem and social confidence than shorter people,” according to Timothy A. Judge, PhD, of the University of Florida who led the study referenced above.
“The process of literally ‘looking down on others’ may cause one to be more confident,” he says in the Journal article.
This got us thinking – do tall women potentially have an edge in the workforce, especially when it comes to working in male-dominated offices?
We spoke with psychology experts and several women who are perceived to be tall (and some who count themselves among the short) and talked to them about how their height has impacted their career.
Here’s how to make your height work for you:
Posture Says it All
When we feel anxious or lack confidence we tend to slouch down. Curl up in a ball. Drop our heads—try to take as little space as possible.
“This pattern makes [tall women] look and feel ‘less-than,’ nervous, and withdrawn,” says Sharon Jakubecy, certifiedAlexander Technique teacher and performance coach.
Instead, taking up space (e.g. standing in a power pose) is a great way to project more confidence and assertiveness.
“At work in the office, the woman who walks at her full height and allows her chest and shoulders to have an easy openness will be the most confident of all her colleagues, including the men,” Jakubecy says.
You can’t help but take notice of a tall woman’s strong posture.
It’s a Great Networking Ice Breaker
“While some people might think that tall people come off as more intimidating, on some levels I’ve found that it makes me more approachable,” Lara Levin, a 5-foot-11 senior account executive at Allison + Partners says.
Generally speaking, most people “will not comment about how short someone is,” Levin says, and “while it’s not the most original conversation starter, people always ask me about my height.”
“Then they always ask if I played sports in high school or college, which opens up the door to talk about hobbies and be relatable to clients and people that I meet while networking,” Levin says.
What an easy ice breaker when you’re networking – use it to your advantage!
Own Your Height – Tall, Short or In-Between
Nearly all women we spoke with told us that height is an amplifier, but confidence comes from within.
For tall women who feel insecure about their height, Casey Bond, a 5-foot-9 content manager at Consumer Track offers this piece of advice: “Sometimes you have to ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’”
It was this mentality that helped Bond feel more comfortable at a recent business dinner with a group of very petite coworkers. “In those instances, you can feel a bit like Sasquatch!” she says. “But what I’ve learned is that others perceive you to be the way you perceive yourself, and if you project confidence, others will see it.”
This means owning up to your height, short or tall.
“I round up to 5 feet, and I look very young,” says Sharon Rosenblatt of Accessibility Partners. “As a result, I’ve had to boost up my professionalism both on the phone and in person to make up for my apparent immaturity. As a result, I speak up more than my taller friends in social settings.”
So, if you want to be successful, forget how tall you are relative to those around you in the office, especially men.
“What a woman does with her height and whether she embodies her full height will determine her experience of confidence, power, and success at work and in life,” Jakubecy says.
Last year, I was a guest expert on body language with Abiola Abrams. As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I am acutely aware of people’s body language and how they react to stressors like dating. My clients share quite a bit of personal information with me regarding their relationships, their work, and their lives. Helping my clients release the physical tension associated with meeting a new potential love, walking into a job interview, or having a difficult conversation with a boss gives them the “tools” to be completely present, open, and creative in these high-stakes situations of life.
Please enjoy Abiola’s article on “How to Read Body Language – Get Inside His Head”
Saturday, February 4, 2012 by Abiola Abrams
If a love genie could grant you any magic power to make your relationships better, we know which one you’d want. Flying is cool and being invisible would become boring but imagine if you were a mind reader. What if you could look at your crush and realize that he really is just that into you? What is you had clear indications that the stud is a dud?
You may not be a mind reader, dollface, but every human being is constantly emitting signals that tell us exactly what they’re thinking. Yes, his body is talking and so is yours. I’m talking about body language, and I’m about to teach you how to read body language!
To find out exactly what that boy is thinking, I enlisted the help of Sharon Jakubecy, a renowned body language specialist. Sharon shared all of the tips and tricks you need to rock your love life right now!
Your Body Language Question: Is he interested in me?
Every day you exchange a smile or a couple of words but that’s it. Still, you could live on that gorgeous smile for weeks. So is he into you or just a social animal?
Our trusty body language expert says, “When a man is interested, he orients his body towards you. He may lean in your direction and his eyes stay focused on you. While you are sharing, he may touch you. A gentle brush of your arm or a hand on your knee. To show you he is listening, he may tilt his head to one side. His breath will be calm and slow.”
Your Body Language Question: What if he’s just being polite?
Okay, he seems like he’s leaning in. Or is he? How do we know he’s not just being nice? This is where you have to pay attention to the subtleties of communication.
Sharon breaks it down like this: “When a man is not interested, his body and gaze are pretty much doing the opposite of the above. His body is facing another direction or he is fidgeting. His eyes are focused somewhere else or looking around. His breath will be more erratic.”
Your Body Language Question: Did he just flash me a fake smile?
Ugh. That awkward moment when you flashy your pearly whites at someone and get that dull quickie smile in return. It wasn’t even a Tyra-worthy smize. Sure that seemed shady but what if he’s just having a bad day?
Bad day or not, our expert says that a fake smile is a fake smile. According to Sharon, who teaches workshops and gives speeches around the country, “Our bodies never lie. So if you or someone you are flirting with is faking a smile, the body will tell the truth. A fake smile has no warmth or joy. It looks forced. The sides of the lips move up but the eyes are flat and expressionless.”
Yup, it’s just what you think. A flirtatious smile is a whole different thing. A real smile works with the eyes. Sharon says, “Pure joy and excitation make your teeth shine with an open-mouth smile.” Yay! We love how that sounds.
Your Body Language Question: Is he lying to me?
Here’s where we suspect you’d be really putting your magical super powers to work. That polygraph test phone app is probably bogus. How do we know if this great guy–or anyone for that matter–is lying?
“Eye contact is huge when it comes to lying,” our expert explains. “If someone is lying their eyes show it.” She goes on to say that there are exceptions with certain behavior conditions that may appear antisocial like Asperger’s Syndrome. However, most folks just can’t look you straight in the eye when they are telling you a lie. Or they go overboard trying to eyeball you to cover up their deceit.
Need more clues? Check for the voice. Sharon says that, “When people are lying, telling a half-truth, or saying something that they are not comfortable with, their voice may crack, drop in volume, or they may clear their throat. They may rush their words as well and move around a lot without being able to sit or stand still.”
I share this video with all of my clients. Seeing the impact of your slouch on your internal organs can elicit a strong desire to pay attention to how you sit, how you stand, how you move and how you breathe.
It’s much easier than you think. Most people around the New Year decide to do something about their posture which typically includes a forced “Sit Up Straight” regimen along with painstaking exercise. The typical assumption is that good posture is a lot of work.
My clients come for a first session in the Alexander Technique and are shocked when they have an experience of their bodies that is light, open, tall, and strong. They gain “Bone Deep Strength.” A sense of strength that requires a release of effort in the neck muscles, the chest muscles, the abdominal muscles, and leg muscles so that the bones can provide structural support for a free moving body.
Watch “Bone Deep Strength” and then keep reading.
Gaining Bone Deep Strength and the freedom that comes with it starts with awareness, an awareness of when you hold your breath, when you slouch, and the effort or heaviness that comes with those habits. With that awareness, you have the ability to make new choices with your body. You have the ability to think differently about your body. You have the power own your full height and utilize your Bone Deep Strength!