Category Archives: Alexander Technique

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?

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3 Mistakes You Make When You Get Nervous

You got the phone call.  You are going in!  This could be a chance of a lifetime!

Nervous Wreck

 

You have to be at the top of your game.  But what if you get nervous?  Can you handle to pressure?  What’s going to happen when all eyes are on you?

 

You know that when you get nervous your body acts like it doesn’t have a brain anymore.  Maybe you are like some of my clients who fidget.  Or you lose all awareness and you have no idea what you are saying with you body language.

Unconscious behavior thrives when you are nervous.  Habits that interfere with your clear thinking and professionalism take over your body and your voice so you look like a powerful force on stage and on camera.

Some of the biggest mistakes you make when you get nervous diminish your stature and your body’s ability to deal with the demands of higher levels of adrenaline.

Watch the video below to see if you make these mistakes:

VIDEO 3 Mistakes You Make When You Get Nervous

 

Being calm in high-stakes situations takes training.  When you learn how to ground your body and your nervous system, you can very consciously choose how you want to communicate in auditions, pitch meetings, and performances.

Training in the Alexander Technique gives you skills to heighten your awareness.  You learn to release the tension patterns that prevent you from breathing easily.  You gain conscious control of your body so you can release over activated muscles.  You can soften your shoulders and allow your chest to open inviting your audience in to your world.  You are free to express your authentic emotions without the nagging inner critic telling you “This is too dangerous!!! Shut down!”

Your awareness or your consciousness opens up the possibility of choice, of power over your own destiny, of thinking thoughts that will streamline your success.  If you want this choice, this powerful consciousness, it requires training, practice, mindfulness and CURIOSITY.  Being curious allows you to see clearly what your unconscious patterns without beating yourself up.  Curiosity moves you away from trying to be right and allows you to venture into the world of the unknown and non-habitual, a world of vulnerability and authenticity.  Here is where you truly connect with others and share your truth.

If you want this curiosity, vulnerability, and honesty, sign up for our free video series!

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Alexander Technique at the Santa Monica Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare Santa Monica Festival
Shakespeare Santa Monica Festival

The Santa Monica Shakespeare Festival begins August 9 with “Twelfth Night” and then continues with “Taming of the Shrew” on August 15.  Visit Santa Monica Shakespeare for information and tickets.

 

I have had the honor to teach Alexander Technique during the Classical Training Intensive with Louis Scheeder and John Farmanesh-Bocca.

Performing Shakespeare has heightened challenges for the actor.  Shakespeare’s characters truly mean what they say and they are usually dealing with life-and-death circumstances.  These circumstances trigger anger, confusion, desperation, exalted joy, rage, overwhelming love, deep desire, and suicidal sadness.

These are all emotions that the normal person does everything in their power to avoid.  They are difficult and painful to honestly communicate.

In my first 2.5 hour training with these enthusiastic actors who were hand-picked for the training and festival, I emphasized the essential ability for the actor to be able to breathe.

Under the high-pressure stakes of Shakespeare and rehearsing in front of renowned Shakespeare teachers and other highly-skilled performers, many of the actors interfered with their own ability to breathe freely so that the emotion could not pass through their bodies.

Here are some of the ways they interfered:

1) Sniffing in a deep breath before beginning a monologue.  This sniffing action requires your body to work much harder to receive the breath necessary to support the complicated language and rhythm.  You will actually make yourself more nervous and your body will tighten with tension.

2) Rushing to begin and get the monologue over with.  When you rush, you usually have to push the words out and you compress your neck, ribs, and spine.  The actor I worked with was losing her lines.  Even her memory wasn’t serving her because the rushing triggered a “Fight Flight or Freeze” response.

3) Pushing the head, neck, and shoulders forward to communicate anger and/or frustration.  This requires a lot of physical tension and cuts you off from your breath and voice.  You also close your body off by narrowing the chest, shoulders, and abdomen.

Realinging your Body, Breath, and Spine with Sharon Jakubecy

As I worked with the actors, I gave them the light and guided touch that Alexander Technique teachers have in order to communicate the release in their neck, shoulders, and abdominal wall.

 

 

Each actor reported feeling lighter and that it was easier to breathe.  This release of tension in the neck and shoulders make them look powerful and open.

I invited them to think about having space for breath to happen to them.  They did not need to BREATHE.  Their bodies breathe FOR them.  Another way to think about this is allowing for length, width, and depth in the torso.

 

Sharon coaching a client to release strain and stress during Constructive RestThey all practiced Constructive Rest which is a floor exercise that allows the muscles of the torso to release into length and width.

I led everyone through an awareness exercise that demonstrated that  breath moved them from the inside.  They did not have to force breath in and out.  This can profoundly center and calm your nervous system before auditions and performances.

Our second workshop is this week.  I am eager to share the “tools” of Alexander Technique while they perform their monologues.  The spaciousness in the body, which allows for free and easy breath, supports the difficult circumstances of seeking revenge, proclaiming your love, or plotting the demise of you forsaken lover.

 

Do You Have a Vision for Your Life? Watch Mine

So many websites, speakers, news articles, books, and TV programs talk about how to change your life.  It is a huge market because most people either want to change their health, their financial situation, their relationship situation, to accomplish their BIG dream, or all of the above.

An essential ingredient to accomplishing these changes is having a vision. Then, making it visual by using pictures, images, and affirmations.  Our brain does not think in words. It thinks in pictures.

Maybe you have created a Vision Board.  When you have pictures to look at they make imprints on your subconscious mind.

If you are on the Alexander Technique LA email list, you may want a pain-free life or you want to “nail” auditions and have confidence on stage, on camera, or when you are public speaking.   Those are the types of pictures you want to cut out.

Here is a Vision Board I created a year and a half ago

My Vision Board 10/12

 

A lot of events took place soon after I created this.

I met Dave, my fiancee.

I also committed to cooking delicious gourmet food and signed up for a cooking class.

I was called by the LA Philharmonic to work with the opera singers.

I have also taken a lot dance and yoga classes are deep passions for me.

Recently, I have had this nagging feeling about taking my work on this planet to the next level. Shortly after this realization, I discovered Mind Movies which are like Vision Boards on steroids!!!  You add affirmations and music.  They move so the brain is highly activated and engaged.

Please watch my Mind Movie:

Click on the image to watch my Video Vision Board
Click on the image to watch my Video Vision Board

Wow!!!!! Every time I watch it, I get the chills and holler out loud “Rawr!”

There are items in here that I have no idea HOW I am going to accomplish.  However, I watch it every day and I share it with YOU.  From my heart to yours.  What is your Vision?

Stressed, Overwhelmed, Anxious? Feel Your Feet

When you get stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, there is a series of events that occur in your body, your brain, and your nervous system, that knock you off center.  All of your attention goes to the fearful thought or feeling, you may hold your breath, and you lose awareness of your body.

 

Feel your feet on the ground
Feel your feet on the ground

When this happens, TRY THIS!  (Yes, those are my feet.  Try this barefoot in the grass as well.  Even better.)

Notice your weight dropping down onto your feet and then onto the floor.

 

Your connection to the floor (Your kinesthetic awareness of your feet), slows your nervous system, brings you into the present moment so you can be calm again.

This technique is extremely helpful in high-stakes situations where you could easily get lost in the stream of negative thoughts that sabotage life changing opportunities.

“What if I mess up?”

“I can’t do this.”

“What if they don’t like me?”

I have my clients train using this technique for auditions or public speaking events.  They will tell me that right before an audition, instead of being distracted and overwhelmed, they feel confidence and relaxation because they are more aware of their feet and their bodies.

When you change how you move in your body, you change how you use your mind.  The Mind-Body Connection is undeniable.  Feeling your feet on the ground during times of stress can interfere with the negative thought loop.  This interference gives you the opportunity to STOP, let breath out, and choose your thoughts.  You have the time and mental space to think clearly, take right action, and succeed!

For more articles, events, and training to eliminate stress and tension, sign up (to your right) for ‘5 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress!

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I’m a certified teacher in Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing


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.

 

You have a Gift. Give It!


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.  Next workshop starts August 27.  Sign up at  http://alexandertechniquela.com/workshops/actors/

Cast on ‘True Blood’ after Alexander Technique

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.

 

 

Own the Room! like Angelina Jolie in the spy movie ‘SALT’


SALT Own The Room
By Jessica Sitomer & Sharon Jakubecy

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.

And Action!

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