Ergonomic Tools for Your Body

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

ergonomic-tools

Fear & Stress Maintain Most Chronic Back Pain

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.

                                                                               -“Mind Over Back Pain” Harvard Health Publications, Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D.

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 Nervous Wrecklead 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.

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You are Sitting Too Much and It’s Killing You

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.

 

IMG_0148sm-225x300With 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.)

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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” 

 

 

Is Aging Affecting your Walk? Walk like you are young again

Recenlty, a study was published in The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies that compared older Alexander Technique practitioners to other age-matched adults.

 

In summary,

“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.

Posture Talks – Corporate Wellness Trainings for Your Employees

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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. cache_3306481Companies 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.

Warming Up the Audience

Warming Up the Audience

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”

 

Posture Talks

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

Physical therapist diagnosing patient with painful arm

Alexander Technique Relieves Neck Pain & Helps You Unwind

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.

Physical therapist diagnosing patient with painful arm

Hands-On Guidance of Alexander Technique

 

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

NBC News Airs Segment on Alexander Technique in San Diego

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!

 

 

How to Sit at a Computer

So many of my clients, whether they are actors, speakers, doctors, or editors, have to sit at a computer for their business.  Almost everyone has a website or a social media presence which requires them to sit at a computer.  Kids now have to do their homework on iPads or computers.  One reason I chose Alexander Technique as a career was because I did not want a job where I had to sit at a computer.  Even I have to spend time at a computer writing blog posts, sending emails to clients, and doing accounting.

 

Sitting at a computer, especially for long periods of time, leads to poor habits of posture taking over.  These painful and compressive habits impact your experience of confidence, vitality, and body language.

 

Some of the worst postural habits I observe are:

  • Head pushing forward towards the computer screen
  • Ribs collapse forward compressing the lungs and diaphragm
  • Hips tuck under which shortens the spine
  • Breathing becomes shallow and breath rate has to quicken

A participant in one of my workshops, shared this video with me from YouTube.  I like it because it uses clear and understandable images to demonstrate support for the head, neck, and spine.

 

Watch the video now (I did not make this video)

Some other recommendations I would share are:

  • Your body is designed to move. Do not sit for long periods of time.
  • Get up and move.
  • Notice your body moving with your breath while you are at the computer
  • Yawn and stretch throughout the time you are at the computer
  • Give yourself the most space possible across your chest and abdominal wall
  • Allow your spine to have length along the curves (You don’t want to straighten the spine
  • Have the bottom of your feet flat on the floor or some other surface
  • MOST IMPORTANT – Your awareness of your body is more important than the computer.  Pay attention to your body and make conscious choices of how you want to sit at the computer.

Please share this with friends and family.  Join the email list and receive the video series “5 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress”

Not Happy with Your Body?

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Not happy with your Body?

When I first took Alexander Technique lessons, 15 years ago, I had excruciating hip and low back pain on the left side. Little did I know that this “pain crisis” would lead to my career as an Alexander Technique teacher.

At the time, I would have to leave work because I was in so much pain. I also dealt with constant and nagging thoughts about my own body being too fat and not sexy enough. This is difficult to admit out loud.

For years, I dealt with what I now believe was some body dismorphia. NO matter how in shape I was or if I did happen to gain a little weight, I was constantly badgered by own thoughts of needing to lose weight and feeling ashamed of my body.

Many of my clients now, both men and women, come to me for their first Alexander Technique session and quickly express some form of body shame. They look at me with knowing concern of their weight “problem.”

As a culture, we are obsessed with our weight and believe that the solution to almost all of our problems (relationship, financial, health) is to lose weight.

“If I lose weight, I will find the love of my life.” ( I had this one)

If I lose weight, I will be more successful in my work and make more money.”

If I lose weight, I will be healthier.”

This constant self flagellation has a powerful negative impact on how you feel about yourself and your body. These thoughts create a a self image that makes you feel disgusted with yourself and not good enough.

How can you attain radiant health and well-being if you are constantly repeating these hurtful insults to yourself?

When a client, shares with me her own negative self image, I ask her “Would you continue to come back for lessons, if I spoke to you that way? Or if someone else spoke to you that way?”

Awareness of how you think about your body gives you insight into why you feel the way you feel about your body and yourself. When you clearly “hear” your negative and painful thoughts, you have an opportunity to question those thoughts and choose thoughts that are healing and supportive of your well-being.

Your body is an amazing gift. Your body deserves your appreciation and complete awe. Your heart miraculously beats and your lungs, diaphragm, and ribs breathe (even when you are asleep)!

Your body is amazing!

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Easiest Way to Calm Nerves in front of an Audience

I love publ320403_10151090611431909_1182712153_nic speaking AND being in front of an audience.  The opportunity to connect with a large group of people all at once gives me a thrill.

Since I was a little girl, I wanted to put on big make-up, wear wild costumes, have big hair, and make sure everyone noticed me!

It’s the Gemini in me.

Even though I loved having an audience, I would sometimes get shaky hands, my voice would quiver, or I would get tongue tied.

What I learned at a young age was that I had to warm up so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the adrenaline rush of walking onto a stage with all eyes on me.

Professional athletes warm up.  Musicians warm up.  Actors warm up.  Warming up your body, breath, and voice decreases the shock of adrenaline in your system.  Instead of shrinking in response to the pressure of being in the spotlight, you teach your nervous system and body to breath through it.  You ground yourself so that negative thoughts don’t distract you.

Towards the beginning of every talk I give, I Iead the entire audience through a mini warm up (This is very interesting when my audience is filled with a hundred managers of a pharmaceutical corporation).

Warming Up the Audience

In the photo above, I had the entire audience at Lisa Elia’s Meet the Media Day yawning, stretching, lip fluttering, and shaking it out so the participants were relaxed and ready to meet and interview with members of the media.

Click HERE or on the above photo to watch the warm up session.

After a thorough warm up, you feel relaxed and loose.  You have shed the armor of tension so you are more open to the people you are going to inspire.

When I work with clients who say they can’t speak in front of a group or they get too nervous, I encourage them to begin with a warm up to see how their experience changes.  I have heard some hilarious and wonderful testimonials after a warm up:

“I don’t give a sh#t what anyone else thinks about me right now!”

“I feel like my vagina is unplugged!” (Yes a woman actually said that)

“I could stay up here in front of everyone forever!”

“I feel SOOO calm.  And I am NOT calm.”

“I’m realizing that it is actually safe to let my guard down and let people in.”

You can try some of the warm up exercises that I lead my groups and clients through:

  • Sit quietly with your hands on your chest and belly.  Notice your body being moved by your breath.
  • Let breath out with a Whispered Ah to allow your shoulders and jaw to release
  • Yawn and stretch with sound
  • Lip flutter (Watch the video here)
  • Hum
  • Hum and shake your hips, twist your ribcage, & bounce your shoulders

How do you feel afterwards?   What is different in your body? your nervous system? your voice?

On October 25, I am leading a 3 hour workshop titled “RESONATE Find Your Voice & Capture the Heart of Your Tribe”  You will experience a full warm up and then test the results out in front of a safe audience of your peers.  Feeling the lightness and looseness of your body allows you to be open, connected, and powerful.  When you find your voice you find your love for public speaking and your joy in connecting to your audience.

Find out more at http://alexandertechniquela.com/workshops/resonate/

 

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