Carla Hassett, singer. musician, and Alexander Technique client, was just interviewed by Linda Wertheimer on NPR about Carmen Miranda, São Paulo, and the making of a far from traditional Brazilian album +Blue.
Her CD Release Concert is happening July 10, 6pm and a Killer band is locked in (with members of Sergio Mendes and Bebel Gilberto’s band), to play in Los Angeles at Kulak’s Woodshed. But if you’re not in LA, you can catch the concert LIVE ONLINE at ClapMe.com!!
Read how she has used Alexander Technique to calm performance anxiety:
“When I finished recording my album and started thinking about playing shows in support of it’s release, I knew I had to do something to address my performance anxiety.
Thankfully I found Sharon and embarked on a 10-week intensive one on one training with her. It never occurred to me to come at emotional anxiety from a physical perspective, but I know from years of singing that the mind-body connection works both ways, so I was eager to get started. Sharon helped me to change my experience of feeling hopeless and helpless to overcoming very powerful feelings of anxiety that I feel while performing.
I put these skills to the test in a big way this week when I was invited to do an interview with Linda Wertheimer on NPR. Before, this sort of thing would floor me, but I used the breathing techniques and alignment skills that Sharon taught me and they keep me calm, cool, and present. Of course I had moments of panic, but I was able to work quickly through them and get back to a confident, calm state of mind. Success! Next challenge will be the album release concert and live webcast. I’m already practicing and applying the techniques Sharon taught me and I know It’ll be a great show!”
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.
An Inability to Relax
Grouchiness or Short Temper
No Desire to Socialize
No Desire to Get Out of Bed
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.
Sooo… What’s the solution, Sharon? (Click on the photo for a video demonstration)
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, anyhow to release muscular tension related to their response to pain.
Semi-Supine is supportive of a long spine and a balanced body. 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 the free video series “5 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress”
My work in teaching Alexander Technique has given me deep insight into the attitudes that people have towards their bodies. Throughout sessions, I ask my clients “What are you noticing in your body?” Inevitably, EVERYONE, men and women, share some sort of negative view of their bodies.
I have worked with people who have scoliosis, vocal issues (like spasmodic disphonia), fibromyalgia, nerve damage, eating disorders, arthritis, anxiety, chronic pain, asthma, depression, and much more. The ONE COMMONALITY is that each f them have a “thing” that evokes shame and embarrassment about their bodies. These negative attitudes evoke stress about our bodies which causes tension and gripping.
So… when I saw Taryn Brumfitt’s movie trailer titled “EMBRACE,” I nearly flipped and screamed. I am always guiding my clients to a more loving attitude towards their bodies. I have also dealt with my own body shame and disgust towards my own body. In order to shift my own attitude and my clients’, I am sharing this trailer.
WATCH THE EMBRACE TRAILER NOW
EMBRACE – Official Trailer: Join Taryn Brumfitt’s global journey to change the way we feel about our bodies.
CAST: Ricki Lake, Mia Freedman, Turia Pitt, Stefania Ferrario, Melinda Tankard Reist, The Bearded Dame.
Now is the time to transform how we feel about our bodies! When you are aware of the negative impact of not cherishing your body just the way it is, you will never want to think a hurtful thought again about your most precious possession. In Alexander Technique sessions, I encourage a loving, gentle, and kind approach to the body which soothes the nervous system and quiets the stress response.
If you are ready to transform your relationship to your body, please look into Alexander Technique sessions. You find out about private sessions here.
If you are going to spend hours of your day on a computer, then you want the best ergonomic set up possible. Read this very helpful infographic about equipment that takes care of you.
Of course, as an Alexander Technique teacher, no one chair, mouse, or keyboard is going to save you. Ergonomically sound equipment will support your awareness and conscious choices of how you want to live and move in your body. If you are not paying attention to your body, you are going to hurt or at least stress your body. Your posture and breathing are your first priority, then your equipment can truly help you stay pain-free.
Is there any equipment you want me to evaluate for your workspace? Send me an email at Sharon@AlexanderTechniqueLA.com
I read an article last week published in Harvard Health Publications that caught my attention. Recent studies have been fine that most chronic back pain is not associated with injury or disease, but more closely associated with our thoughts, emotions, and the behavior that follows.
There simply isn’t a close connection between the condition of the spine and whether or not people experience pain. Research has shown that a majority of people who have never had any significant back pain have the very same “abnormalities” (such as bulging or herniated spinal discs) that are frequently blamed for chronic back conditions. And then there are the millions of people with severe chronic back pain who show no structural abnormalities in their back at all.
On top of this, it turns out that people in developing countries, who do back-breaking labor and don’t have easy access to medical treatment, have much fewer incidents of chronic back pain than people in the developed world who sit in ergonomically designed chairs, sleep on fancy mattresses, and have ready access to spinal imaging, surgery, and medications.
The article goes on to say that clinicians and researchers have been looking into the psychological causes of pain and in a landmark study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that both mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are both effective solutions for relieving chronic back pain.
This thrilled me as an Alexander Technique teacher. When a client comes to me for Alexander Technique sessions due to back pain, there are often some surprising revelations that a back pain sufferer discovers. Often, the development of the kinesthetic sense, or body awareness, gives my clients the ability to observe painful patterns of tightening and tensing muscles, destablilizing their posture and holding their breath in response to pain. The tensing of muscles and holding of the breath worsens the pain.
Then also become highly aware of their emotional response to pain. Frustration, fear, worry, anger, despair are all emotions that lead to chronic clenching of the neck, jaw, fists, chest, upper back, and abdominal muscles. The clenching of these muscles leads to more pain. (There has been a study published that demonstrated that Alexander Technique and acupuncture unravel neck pain as well)
In Alexander Technique sessions, we even start to identify habitual emotional responses to pain.
So many of my clients get angry at themselves when they are in pain.
Anger leads to more clenching. More clenching leads to more pain. Becoming aware of emotions like anger and aware of the impact anger has on the body is essential for releasing the emotions and releasing the body.
There have been numerous clients who, once they release the musculature around the belly, low ribs, and diaphragm, they cry deeply and loudly. I encourage the crying and the emotional release. Letting go of old emotions that get stored in the body leads to pain relief, stress relief, and complete liberation of breathing. It takes an extraordinary amount of muscular effort to hold these emotions in the body.
The Harvard Health article recommends reading books about mindfulness and CBT or visiting a pain clinic where they are offered. You can also look into the mindfulness training of Alexander Technique during which you become highly aware of your body and your body’s responses, and then, learn how to release those painful patterns and calm your SELF, you nervous system, and your musculature. For more guidance on mindfulness and stress, sign up to receive “5 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress” HERE.
On average, most of us are sitting about 9.3 hours a day. Unfortunately, sitting this much has many negative side effects. I often tell my Alexander Technique clients that these bodies we live in are not built for sitting in one position for hours at a time, but are designed for moving.
With the rise of the computer and smart phone and driving in traffic, we have even more reason to passively sit when we are done with work.
I teach my clients how to sit well when they are at the computer or at a desk. However, no matter how well you sit, sitting as much as we do, we are inevitably hurting ourselves.
One of my clients who came to me for back pain, sent the video you see below. This video demonstrates how we are built for moving and describes what happens to you not only your spine but also your brain when you are inactive.
(Lesson by Murat Dalkilinç, animation by Oxbow Creative.)
Lessons in the Alexander Technique, can help you sit well with a long supported spine. Your diaphragm, ribs, and lungs can move easily with your breath. You are no longer compressing your internal organs. Most importantly, you also learn to listen to
your bodies’ signals telling you to get up and move.
Another client of mine, who works at the computer, believed that something was wrong with his back and neck because he couldn’t sit at his computer for hours at a time without feeling like he needed to move. I reassured him that, since he is paying more attention to his body and hearing his body’s signals to get up and move, his body and kinesthetic sense were improving, giving him more accurate information about what his body needs.
Too much sitting is also associated with diabetes, heart disease, electrical activity cutting off to your legs, fewer calories being burned, and much more.
So please… Notice how much time you spend sitting. Listen to your body when you feel like you want to move. It’s the only body you are ever going to get. Sign up for “5 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress”
Recenlty, a study was published in The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies that compared older Alexander Technique practitioners to other age-matched adults.
“The Alexander Technique (AT) seeks to eliminate harmful patterns of tension that interfere with the control of posture and movement and in doing so, it may serve as a viable intervention method for increasing gait efficacy in older adults. The purpose of this study was to compare the comfortable pace gait kinematics of older AT practitioners with those of healthy, age-matched controls. Participants were six licensed AT practitioners and seven healthy age-matched controls between the ages of 63 and 75. During the stance phase, AT participants exhibited significantly greater ankle stance range of motion (ROM) and plantar flexion at toe off, as well as lower ROM of the trunk and head compared to controls. During the swing phase, the AT practitioners had significantly increased hip and knee flexion and a trend toward significantly increased dorsiflexion. The findings suggest that the older AT practitioners walked with gait patterns more similar to those found in the literature for younger adults. These promising results highlight the need for further research to assess the AT’s potential role as an intervention method for ameliorating the deleterious changes in gait that occur with aging.”
I have witnessed so many of my clients who older and wiser, completely change how they walk, sit, stand, and move through life. Before they took, Alexander Technique lessons, they walked with their head forward of their spine, their chest compressed, and their leg joints stiffened.
Alexander Technique lessons give you the “tools” to unravel old patterns of tension and movement that have you walk like you are much older. Aging does not have to be a sentence to hunching over and stiffening your body. My clients have freed up their breathing, relieved back pain, and opened up their posture. All of which has impacted their confidence.
Walking like a young person doesn’t require a fountain of youth. It requires mindfulness, awareness, and training.
You want to protect your most important asset, YOUR EMPLOYEES!
What is Back Pain & Stress Costing Your Company?
However, research shows that companies are losing millions of dollars due to absenteeism caused by stress and back pain. Companies in the UK lost 15 million work days alone to back pain in 2013.
In the US, pain costs $294 billion annually in lost workdays, medical expenses, and other benefit costs.
Lost productive time from common pain conditions among active U.S. workers cost an estimated $61.2 billion annually, largely due to reduced performance while at work.
VERY successful companies like Fitbit, Zappos, Twitter, Kaiser Permanente, and Google already provide unique wellness programs in order to support and protect their dedicated workforce.
As an Alexander Technique teacher and posture coach, I, Sharon Jakubecy, have offered Posture Talks and stress management trainings to leadership trainings, advertising organizations, and sales teams. Media Arts Lab, Grifols Biologicals Inc., Rug Warehouse, Buy Rite Electric, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and LA Opera are just a few of the organizations that have received the practical training to better maintain health and vitality at work.
With your employees spending an average of 9.3 hours sitting and 7 of those hours sitting at a computer, it is imperative that they know how to sit with Healthy Pain Free Posture.
Your employees will receive impactful statistics, information, handouts, videos, and guided experiential activities with Sharon Jakubecy, certified Alexander Technique teacher, in order to evoke the decision to care for and change how they sit at the computer and carry themselves throughout the day at work. With this seminar, your employees have the opportunity to potentially increase their productivity and miss fewer days of work due to stress and pain.
Your employees will feel empowered, energized, and much more relaxed with Sharon’s warm style of teaching. Everyone will not only leave with important information about their bodies, but also easy practices and exercises that Sharon guides the entire group through.
Give your employees the support and education they need to take care of their bodies while taking care of business with our Posture Talks “Healthy Pain Free Posture”
1) One Hour talk for entire company
2) One Hour talk for entire company PLUS One-on-One Postural Work Space Analysis
Employees that sign up receive a 15 minute personalized session analyzing how the employee has their workspace ergonomically set up for pain and tension and reorganization of computer, chair, desk set up so she is sitting or standing tall with relaxed shoulders, neck, and back.
3) Workshops for smaller groups
Stress Management in the Age of Never Unplugging
Own the Room: Powerful Body Language and a Resonant Voice that Captivates Your Clients
Healing and Relieving Back Pain
TESTIMONIALS for Posture Talks
“We just launched a Health program at Media Arts Lab and Sharon was our opening speaker. Being in the advertising industry, many of our employees work sitting at the computer for long hours and express to HR that they are concerned for the health of their backs. Sharon’s agency talk, “Healthy Pain-Free Posture: Taking Care of Your Bodies While Taking Care of Business”, was enlightening and inspiring for our employees. I have never seen such a big turn out at one of our talks! People want to learn about ways to better their health and Sharon was able to help us start healthier initiatives within our office in a wonderful light. We hope to bring her back soon to run a workshop on another topic. For the sake of your employees, I highly recommend booking Sharon for your event.” -Brittany LaRoche, Associate HR Generalist at TBWA/Media Arts Lab
“Sharon’s talk was the best and most informative speech that we have seen at our agency in awhile. It’s s topic that we all care about and can benefit from.” – Bianca Wilson, Associate BA Manager at Media Arts Lab
CALL for talk outline and fees (310) 383-1796
Two major health media outlets have recently published articles about the health benefits of Alexander Technique.
In the Annals of Internal Medicine, a study was published demonstrating that Alexander Technique and Acupuncture both led to significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability compared to usual care at 12 months.
Also, in the Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School by Eva Selhub MD, a very descriptive and accurate article was published regarding the literal unwinding of the body that occurs with lessons.
“Today, AT is considered a mental discipline that teaches individuals how to let go of tension in the body and how to enable the body to move with ease and minimal effort. AT is used to treat a variety of conditions, from musculoskeletal pain and repetitive strain injuries to breathing problems, voice loss, and sleep disorders. Many artists, musicians, dancers, singers, and actors use AT to help enhance their performance. The purpose of AT, ultimately, is to enable individuals to methodically unlearn maladaptive (negative) habits — which can show up in the way we stand, sit, eat, walk, or talk — and instead learn how to return the body to a relaxed, balanced state of alignment and poise.”
With my clients, during Alexander Technique sessions, I am helping them perform important and mundane tasks without pain and tension, like:
Sit at a computer
Speak in front of audiences
Cook in the kitchen
Drive their cars
Talk on the phone
Walk into an audition or job interview
Enjoy the Holidays
If you or someone you love needs to UNWIND or relieve neck pain, PRIVATE SESSIONS in the Alexander Technique may be the solution. For information, regarding private sessions for yourself or as a holiday gift, visit the PRIVATE SESSIONS PAGE
If you have wondered about Alexander Technique, how it works, or how it can help you with pain, strain, and stress, this segment on NBC San Diego interviewing my colleague Eileen Troberman is fantastic!
So many people put up with pain AND they love what they do. It is possible to do what you love AND not be in pain!
In this segment, musicians who have trained in the Alexander Technique share how this work and transformed their lives. My clients have also been film editors, directors, producers, lawyers, writers, comedians, actors, doctors, and musicians.
Watch and SHARE this comprehensive overview of Alexander Technique and its many benefits!