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!
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 – 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, sign up for our free video series below:
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.
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.
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, researchersfound 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.
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.
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”
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.
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!
“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.
Just before CARmageddon in Los Angeles in 2011, I was interviewed at the NPR studios to help listeners with traffic-related stress. Taking care of yourself while driving helps you stay calm, focused and at-ease during any crazy traffic jams you find yourself in. Check out the link to the NPR story by Mandalit Del Barco that aired the Friday before the 405 was to be closed for an entire weekend: http://www.npr.org/2011/07/14/137838936/i-405s-closure-will-be-a-nightmare-for-l-a-drivers
Fortunately, CArmageddon was not the disaster the city officials thought it would be. However, on your way to that important meeting or audition, you still get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with people who are in to much of a hurry and without any patience. You get stressed out, agitated, and your back starts to kill you.
“Grrrrrr! What are all of these people doing on the road? Where could they possibly be going at this hour? What does that guy think he is doing? He is driving like a lunatic! I have been driving for 30 minutes and have only gone 8 miles! “
Driving is a necessary evil in Los Angeles. Every day, the mean travel time to work for Angelenos is just about 30 minutes. Both ways is an hour. Add on driving to the kids’ school, to the bank, the grocery store, and maybe even a trip to the gym and Angelenos are spending close to 2 hours in the car. While driving, many of my students complain about hip and lower back pain, neck stiffness, frustration, stress, and downright exasperation. During their lesson, we look at how they are using themselves while they are driving and how they can undo the destructive tension that makes this everyday activity so unpleasant and painful.
Betsy Salkind is a comedian and writer in LA (www.BetsySalkind.com). In one of her very first lessons, we went out to her car and investigated what she was doing that made her neck ache and her head explode. While she was driving, Betsy was slouching forward, collapsing her ribcage and spine. This position required her neck muscles to contract pulling the weight of her head back and down. She was forward of the structural support of her pelvis, so her hip joints were compressed. Her neck hurt. Her shoulders hurt. Her hips hurt.
It is possible to drive without compression and strain. For Betsy, we arranged her position in the car seat so that she let her head, neck, and back release back and up away from the steering wheel. The back of her head was supported by the headrest, which needed to be adjusted so that it didn’t tilt forward. With her head supported by her spine, which was now long, her neck muscles were no longer straining to hold her head up. Her ribcage had room to move with her breath. **Here is an amazing little secret weapon that will help you to eliminate tension while driving** She held the steering wheel with the pinky side of her hand which helped her to stay supported by her back.
Now when she is driving Betsy doesn’t want to slouch because it makes the experience so much more stressful. She sits tall, doesn’t hold her breath, and lets her pelvis and back support her entire body.
By making these simple choices for yourself, you too can drive in LA traffic without pain and stress.
If you have been stressed and in pain while driving, try these tips and leave a comment. You can also share this article with colleagues and loved-ones who suffer when they drive.
Your body releases the supercharged hormone and neurotransmitter, adrenaline, when you have to slam on your brakes, get out ofthe way, or run for cover. It also releases it when you are stressed out, on a deadline, and have to speak in front of a group.
This RUSH triggers the FIGHT-or-FLIGHT response which turns off bodily functions such as digestion and increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood flow to muscles: all good things when you have to escape from a burning car.
However, when the stakes are high, FIGHT-or-FLIGHT can destroy any chances of effectively delivering your pitch, getting board approval, or making the deal.
Speaking in front of the board, pitching to your clients, or presenting to your colleagues is demanding and can trigger some of these more subtle and off-putting reactions:
6. Tight Throat – Can’t get your words out
7. Fidgeting or Clumsy Movements
8. Rushed or Fumbled Speaking
These symptoms will also make your listeners uncomfortable. They won’t take you seriously.
Being able to identify your own Fight-or-Flight
Response, and then, ground yourself enables you to communicate your expertise and think quickly on your feet. You can utilize the energy and the excitement of your adrenaline rush to connect to your colleagues or clients and get them “on board.”
Try these strategies when you experience an overpowering Adrenaline Rush:
1. Slow down.
2. Pay more attention to breath going out.
3. Feel your feet on the floor.
4. Open your eyes instead of squinting.
5. Stand tall and let your shoulders be wide
6. Let your ribs move with your breath.
Taking these action steps to calm yourself in a high-stakes situation makes you look, feel, and sound confident. Instead of feeling like you were in a car wreck, your colleagues and clients will be eager and enthusiastic to pat you on the back, shake your hand, and start your project!
Sharon Jakubecy (www.AlexanderTechniqueLA.com) is a speaker and Alexander Technique teacher for thought leaders, executives, and public speakers so they are calm, confident, and dynamic in high-stakes speaking events, interviews, and presentations. She has been featured on NPR, The Huffington Post, The Hollywood Weekly, and Backstage as a stress management and Performance expert. Want more helpful articles and videos? Sign up below: