Category Archives: Breathing

LIVE Talk Radio Mind, Body, and the Effects of Texting

Is texting hurting you and your relationships? Got text neck? Stephanie Michele, host of Relatable, with me and Matt Formica discussed texting norms and the hidden harms of texting too much. Setting guidelines to mindfully decrease texts exchanges were emphasized with a review of the No Text or Next pledge. Watch the interview HERE.

Doctors are now diagnosing patients with “texting neck.”  Carrying your head forward of your spine to use your smart phone is causing pain, harming your posture, and interfering with your breathing.  My best advice is to prioritize your body over your phone and watch the interview!

Is Your Body Screaming “HELP MEEEEEEEE”?

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.  

Anxiety

Dislike of you own body

Sleeplessness
Exhaustion
An Inability to Relax
Fidgetiness
Grouchiness or Short Temper
No Desire to Socialize
No Desire to Get Out of Bed
Can’t Exercise 
And more….

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

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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 our free video series:

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 our free video series:

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91% of Women Hate Their Bodies

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 body image.  

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.  This negative body image evoke stress about our bodies which causes tension, impaired breathing 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 movie trailer

EMBRACE – Official Trailer: Join Taryn Brumfitt’s global journey to change the way we feel about our bodies.

EMBRACE will premiere at Sydney Film Festival Sunday June 12. Come along and embrace everyBODY: http://bit.ly/1ZCkFY1
‪#‎Ihaveembraced‬

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,  sign up for our free video series below:

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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.

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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” 

 

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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

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.

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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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Why Do We Hate Our Bellies?

When I work with my clients, one of my first intentions is for them to FEEL their bodies, in other words, for them to have body awareness.  Inevitably, every person whether man or woman, when I ask them what do they notice, report to me “I notice I need to lose weight” or “I notice my stomach is pooching out.”  The thin people say it.  They not-so-thin people say it.  Our cultures dislike and rejection of our bellies is epidemic.  Our body image is distorted.

(Check out the LOVE YOUR BODY workshop for Self Care and Self Love during the month of February)

Even in myself I notice a constant awareness of needing to lose weight.  I notice myself in the mirror and see my belly which makes me feel wrong.  So many of my clients also believe that they are not supposed to have a belly.  They believe that something is wrong with their bodies because they do not have washboard flat abdomens.  I knew I grew up with a constant nagging of  “I’m fat, I’m fat, I’m too fat!”

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The result of this obsession with rejecting our bodies is that many people suck in their gut, harden the abdominal muscles, hold their breath, shrink their posture AND pull their spines out of alignment.

They are stressing themselves out!

Our bellies are a vital part of our whole SELF.  Within the belly contains the digestive tract and reproductive organs.  In many ancient modalities, the belly contains our spiritual center, our truth, our intuition.  For women, our miraculous ability to create life and bear children is within our bellies.  In terms of chakras, our belly houses the second chakra which relates to our relationships, sexuality, and our passion for life.

 

Why would we want this seat of passion and creativity to smaller or flatter?  Somewhere we as a culture have learned to deny our bodies and especially our bellies.  Many people I see in Alexander Technique sessions, carry themselves in a way that smashes the belly, making digesting and breathing difficult.  They often don’t want to feel the presence of the belly.  But BOY, when they do, there is a rush of emotion and feeling.  Breath moves the belly and they feel sensations, movement in the digestive tract that is at first frightening, and then, liberating.  Anger, power, fear, freedom all feelings that are visceral.  And then, confidence.

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We deserve our bellies.  We deserve to feel the power, the confidence and the joy that our bellies give us.  The power to bear children.  The power to trust our gut instinct.  The power to take up space in this world.  The power to breath fully and to breathe down into our truth.

Freeing our bellies grounds us on our feet.  We center ourselves through the difficulties life brings.  Letting your belly take up space gives you wholeness and self acceptance.  In order to experience the richness of life, we can honor and cherish the gift of our bodies and our bellies.

Your body is not a burden.  Your belly is not a curse.  Your body has miraculous abilities to heal, to experience life, and to relate to our fellow human beings.  Your belly is big and breathable.  Your belly is precious.  I invite you to love your belly, honor your belly, and to embrace your belly.  Let yourself feel your belly.

If you are ready to embrace your body, then join me for the LOVE YOUR BODY workshop, February 1, 8, 15, & 22 at 7pm in Los Feliz.