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.
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. Companies 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.
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”
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
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.
“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
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!
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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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)!
I love public 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).
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.
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
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.
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!”
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.
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.
Your pelvis is a physical center of nerves, muscles, organs and bones which connect you to your creativity, sensuality, and confidence. When you are suffering from pelvic pain, lack of sensation, and/or inflexibility, you can struggle with intimacy, personal power, well-being, and living passionately.
During Alexander Technique sessions, I meet many clients who do not have an awareness of their pelvis, groin, and lower abdomen. It almost seems as if that is a “No Man’s Land” (Or No Woman’s Land). Women, especially, are taught to keep the knees together or we will expose ourselves and possible be labeled a slut. Somewhere in our historical education, we were told that our pelvises and the organs and nerves contained within them are dangerous or that they will get us into trouble.
Ironically, we have pelvises with reproductive organs and highly sensitive nerves that tap us into our sensuality, our sexuality, and creativity. We are made to be sensual because we have the equipment to be so. A very thorough historical and anatomical volume that I highly recommend is a book titled “Vagina: A New Biography” by Naomi Wolf.
The anatomy of the pelvis, hip joints, spine, and diaphragm are interconnected. With a clear understanding of your pelvic center and the gripping you hold here, you can release old patterns of fear, armoring, and constriction, letting your juices flow. Your joy and your passion can inform your relationships, your work, and your artistry in the world. Your hips will open, your breath will drop down, and you will SHINE.
With the gentle and sophisticated hands-on guidance of Alexander Technique on your head, neck, and spine, the soothing freedom of Breathing Co-ordination of the ribs, belly, and diaphragm, and exploration of the pelvic anatomy (CLOTHES ON OF COURSE), you reach a profound calm state in the nervous system and discover HOW to release the muscles and joints of your sacred center.
I have seen people transform in Alexander Technique sessions. There is a fire within that is unleashed as a young female actor allows her abdominal wall to soften and move with her breath. An older man in his 60s stands big and tall and is reminded of his strapping stature when he was younger.
What lies dormant in your pelvis? What creative endeavor have you given up on? How have you shrunk yourself? Begin to observe your pelvis. What is it like to let your breath move you deep down into the pelvic floor? How do you feel when you five your groin some space and uncross your legs?
I look forward to hearing from you! Reply in the comments below and please share.