I just finished an Alexander Technique session with a client who is returning to lessons after about a year. He has been experiencing lower back pain. What stood out to me while we were catching up was not only how he was carrying his head forward of his body but also that he was working very hard to breathe in and then holding his breath.
When I asked him what he noticed when he was inhaling, he recognized that he was lifting his shoulders and tightening his neck. After he breathed in, he identified the huge amount of muscular effort he used to hold the breath in. His leg muscles tightened. His abdominal muscles clenched. AND, His lower back was overly arched and gripped. This habit made his lower back hurt.
I then showed him the video below:
He was able to see that his neck and shoulders were not supposed to work in order to receive breath. I put my hands around the bottom edge of his ribs so he was aware of the movement of his back and ribs with his breath. Here is the trick: Let breath out (instead of breathing in)
“Sharon! I feel so relaxed!!! Letting breathing out is so calming. I am always working so hard to breathe in.”
Check if you are making these mistakes with your breathing:
1) Breathing in by lifting your chest and shoulders. This requires many muscles in upper body to grip and tighten and prevents your diaphragm from moving properly in order to take in breath.
2) Holding in breath after the inhale. Holding your breath actually requires your muscles to work unnecessarily. You will also start to feel frantic, panicky, anxious, and/or nervous.
3) Controlling the breath. Your body breathes better than you do. If you are breathing in deeply, you are interfering with your body’s natural breathing coordination.
These mistakes can not only cause physical pain but also evoke nervousness, fear, and anxiety. Letting breath out releases muscles and allows your body to take care of you. Your BODY breathes better than you.
If your breathing seems difficult and you have aches and pains, the Alexander Technique may be the solution. Find out more about Alexander Technique can help you at the NO COST workshop Confident Posture & a Pain Free Body May 10 in Los Feliz.