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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
Last year, I was a guest expert on body language with Abiola Abrams. As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I am acutely aware of people’s body language and how they react to stressors like dating. My clients share quite a bit of personal information with me regarding their relationships, their work, and their lives. Helping my clients release the physical tension associated with meeting a new potential love, walking into a job interview, or having a difficult conversation with a boss gives them the “tools” to be completely present, open, and creative in these high-stakes situations of life.
Please enjoy Abiola’s article on “How to Read Body Language – Get Inside His Head”
His lips are sealed, but he’s saying plenty! | Source: Facebook
If a love genie could grant you any magic power to make your relationships better, we know which one you’d want. Flying is cool and being invisible would become boring but imagine if you were a mind reader. What if you could look at your crush and realize that he really is just that into you? What is you had clear indications that the stud is a dud?
You may not be a mind reader, dollface, but every human being is constantly emitting signals that tell us exactly what they’re thinking. Yes, his body is talking and so is yours. I’m talking about body language, and I’m about to teach you how to read body language!
To find out exactly what that boy is thinking, I enlisted the help of Sharon Jakubecy, a renowned body language specialist. Sharon shared all of the tips and tricks you need to rock your love life right now!
Don’t let those eyes hypnotize you, girl! | source: tumblr
Your Body Language Question: Is he interested in me?
Every day you exchange a smile or a couple of words but that’s it. Still, you could live on that gorgeous smile for weeks. So is he into you or just a social animal?
Our trusty body language expert says, “When a man is interested, he orients his body towards you. He may lean in your direction and his eyes stay focused on you. While you are sharing, he may touch you. A gentle brush of your arm or a hand on your knee. To show you he is listening, he may tilt his head to one side. His breath will be calm and slow.”
Your Body Language Question: What if he’s just being polite?
Okay, he seems like he’s leaning in. Or is he? How do we know he’s not just being nice? This is where you have to pay attention to the subtleties of communication.
Sharon breaks it down like this: “When a man is not interested, his body and gaze are pretty much doing the opposite of the above. His body is facing another direction or he is fidgeting. His eyes are focused somewhere else or looking around. His breath will be more erratic.”
Fake smile? Sadly, probably yes. | Source: Tumblr
Your Body Language Question: Did he just flash me a fake smile?
Ugh. That awkward moment when you flashy your pearly whites at someone and get that dull quickie smile in return. It wasn’t even a Tyra-worthy smize. Sure that seemed shady but what if he’s just having a bad day?
Bad day or not, our expert says that a fake smile is a fake smile. According to Sharon, who teaches workshops and gives speeches around the country, “Our bodies never lie. So if you or someone you are flirting with is faking a smile, the body will tell the truth. A fake smile has no warmth or joy. It looks forced. The sides of the lips move up but the eyes are flat and expressionless.”
Yup, it’s just what you think. A flirtatious smile is a whole different thing. A real smile works with the eyes. Sharon says, “Pure joy and excitation make your teeth shine with an open-mouth smile.” Yay! We love how that sounds.
Your Body Language Question: Is he lying to me?
Here’s where we suspect you’d be really putting your magical super powers to work. That polygraph test phone app is probably bogus. How do we know if this great guy–or anyone for that matter–is lying?
“Eye contact is huge when it comes to lying,” our expert explains. “If someone is lying their eyes show it.” She goes on to say that there are exceptions with certain behavior conditions that may appear antisocial like Asperger’s Syndrome. However, most folks just can’t look you straight in the eye when they are telling you a lie. Or they go overboard trying to eyeball you to cover up their deceit.
Need more clues? Check for the voice. Sharon says that, “When people are lying, telling a half-truth, or saying something that they are not comfortable with, their voice may crack, drop in volume, or they may clear their throat. They may rush their words as well and move around a lot without being able to sit or stand still.”
I share this video with all of my clients. Seeing the impact of your slouch on your internal organs can elicit a strong desire to pay attention to how you sit, how you stand, how you move and how you breathe.
It’s much easier than you think. Most people around the New Year decide to do something about their posture which typically includes a forced “Sit Up Straight” regimen along with painstaking exercise. The typical assumption is that good posture is a lot of work.
My clients come for a first session in the Alexander Technique and are shocked when they have an experience of their bodies that is light, open, tall, and strong. They gain “Bone Deep Strength.” A sense of strength that requires a release of effort in the neck muscles, the chest muscles, the abdominal muscles, and leg muscles so that the bones can provide structural support for a free moving body.
Watch “Bone Deep Strength” and then keep reading.
Gaining Bone Deep Strength and the freedom that comes with it starts with awareness, an awareness of when you hold your breath, when you slouch, and the effort or heaviness that comes with those habits. With that awareness, you have the ability to make new choices with your body. You have the ability to think differently about your body. You have the power own your full height and utilize your Bone Deep Strength!