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:
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 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.
You got the phone call. You are going in! This could be a chance of a lifetime!
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:
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!
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.
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!
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)
“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.
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.
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.
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:
This article was published in CareerBliss and written by Ritika Trikha. I was a guest expert speaking about women owning their full height and how it affects their confidence in the workplace. When I work with my Alexander Technique clients, they discover their true height which is much less work than the typical Stand Up Straight posture. My clients who have to walk into meetings and communicate their expertise learn how to Own the Room with their Power Pose. They are far more aware of their body language, how they tense when they are nervous, and how to release and open. Read the article below:
Are Taller Women More Successful At Work
by Ritika Trikha
Researchers do concede, though, that there may not be a direct link between height and success.
However, “tall people may have greater self-esteem and social confidence than shorter people,” according to Timothy A. Judge, PhD, of the University of Florida who led the study referenced above.
“The process of literally ‘looking down on others’ may cause one to be more confident,” he says in the Journal article.
This got us thinking – do tall women potentially have an edge in the workforce, especially when it comes to working in male-dominated offices?
We spoke with psychology experts and several women who are perceived to be tall (and some who count themselves among the short) and talked to them about how their height has impacted their career.
Here’s how to make your height work for you:
Posture Says it All
When we feel anxious or lack confidence we tend to slouch down. Curl up in a ball. Drop our heads—try to take as little space as possible.
“This pattern makes [tall women] look and feel ‘less-than,’ nervous, and withdrawn,” says Sharon Jakubecy, certifiedAlexander Technique teacher and performance coach.
Instead, taking up space (e.g. standing in a power pose) is a great way to project more confidence and assertiveness.
“At work in the office, the woman who walks at her full height and allows her chest and shoulders to have an easy openness will be the most confident of all her colleagues, including the men,” Jakubecy says.
You can’t help but take notice of a tall woman’s strong posture.
It’s a Great Networking Ice Breaker
“While some people might think that tall people come off as more intimidating, on some levels I’ve found that it makes me more approachable,” Lara Levin, a 5-foot-11 senior account executive at Allison + Partners says.
Generally speaking, most people “will not comment about how short someone is,” Levin says, and “while it’s not the most original conversation starter, people always ask me about my height.”
“Then they always ask if I played sports in high school or college, which opens up the door to talk about hobbies and be relatable to clients and people that I meet while networking,” Levin says.
What an easy ice breaker when you’re networking — use it to your advantage!
Own Your Height – Tall, Short or In-Between
Nearly all women we spoke with told us that height is an amplifier, but confidence comes from within.
For tall women who feel insecure about their height, Casey Bond, a 5-foot-9 content manager at Consumer Track offers this piece of advice: “Sometimes you have to ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’”
It was this mentality that helped Bond feel more comfortable at a recent business dinner with a group of very petite coworkers. “In those instances, you can feel a bit like Sasquatch!” she says. “But what I’ve learned is that others perceive you to be the way you perceive yourself, and if you project confidence, others will see it.”
This means owning up to your height, short or tall.
“I round up to 5 feet, and I look very young,” says Sharon Rosenblatt of Accessibility Partners. “As a result, I’ve had to boost up my professionalism both on the phone and in person to make up for my apparent immaturity. As a result, I speak up more than my taller friends in social settings.”
So, if you want to be successful, forget how tall you are relative to those around you in the office, especially men.
“What a woman does with her height and whether she embodies her full height will determine her experience of confidence, power, and success at work and in life,” Jakubecy says.