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Posted by: janec | on November 17, 2018
Putting a sports bra on at any time can be a challenge! Here are some thoughts about that, and some Alexander Technique (AT) ideas that might help. For those of you that don’t wear them, you might find an AT nugget in here somewhere.
To get to the sports bra we need a few detours. The first is about bath bombs and Epson salts.
I am a Lush bath bomb gal. I love watching the effervescing ball dance around the thundering bath water as it releases colour and scent, and luxuriating in all of that. So the suggestion from a friend, of soaking in a bath of Epson salts, wasn’t that appealing. I was assured it would be good for my health. Plus, a huge tub of Epson salts arrived, as a present, and thus, I gave it a go.
Warning – do not try this bit at home! I have no idea if Alexander Technique in the bath will work for you! I could end up with my readers drowning in the attempt. Please don’t.
Having an Eco friendly bath is no way to undertake this soak, but it was the only one available to me. The overflow is strategically placed so that I can only be covered by 2/3rd’s of water even when it is full. The bath is short, narrow and I can lay on my back with my knees bent without drowning. Happily, I was able to practice Alexander Technique active rest, releasing into width as much as the bath allowed whilst laying in the Epson salt infusion. I also enjoyed listening to the ocean liner-like central heating noises from underneath the water. A couple of flannels, for warmth, topped off the event: sorry if that’s too much detail!
Bath over, having already been applying the Alexander Technique to laying in an extremely narrow bath, I was pondering on applying it to the unique issue of putting my clothes on. It’s the same problem as dressing after going swimming. How to do this with ease? Hot atmospheres, damp, warm skin and clothing just don’t work well together. There’s that Velcro effect where clothes weld to the skin wherever they touch.
We need another detour here, onto how Flamenco dancing, Madonna and lack of confidence play a part.
Picture a flamenco dancer with their hands spiralling round their body, then take yourself back to 1990, and Madonna’s song, Vogue, and striking a pose. I recommend you follow the link and watch the video first. It’s a great song and you might enjoy striking a pose? Have fun. I just did! I feel so energised now.
Anyhow, where does lack of confidence fit in? Back in my N.H.S. days I had to go to the occasional meeting. Usually in a stuffy room, sat around a table with other health professionals, at the end of a long week. Picture yourself there as the most senior consultant makes a point. From his position of power he luxuriously floats his hands up and over his head in an arc, palms coming to rest behind his head, elbows wide. He draws a breath, and with confidence, slowly begins to make his point. A while later, a junior doctor speaks out but he just can’t pull off the whole hands behind the head thing. A tiny shadow movement, half going there, and then giving up, happens instead. The effect on the group, and his lack of seniority means his message doesn’t land in the same way at all. To get the full effect try both arm movements yourself, then try going from one to the other. It’s a bit like voguing but less fun.
Back to the sports bra: my usual method looks more like one my Dad used in his motor cycle repair days when all else failed: rive it! After my Epson salts bath, and my Eco friendly chilling out with the Alexander Technique, I was up for exploring what happens if I don’t rive my sports bra on? What happens if I use the Alexander Technique?
Back to Flamenco, voguing and lack of confidence. Well, putting a sports bra on and applying the Alexander Technique looks like a cross between all of those! The up side, is I was laughing my head off by the time I finished and I wasn’t at all flustered like I normally am. The down side was, I took ages to get dressed and I would have been mortified if anyone had walked in on me.
I started by releasing my usual rive-it approach tension. I stopped several times during the process and thought about having a free neck. In those moments of stillness you might have thought I was dancing, but more likely, if pressed, you would have described me as a trussed up turkey. Sports bras have a unique property of rolling themselves up and becoming extremely rigid and rope like, despite their elastic content. I needed to take a Sun Tzu, Art of War, indirect approach.
What I did learn was a sports bra goes on (and off) much more smoothly when applying the Alexander Technique. However, another tip, if this is available to you: partners come in very handy. Get someone else to help!
Alexander Technique can be applied in all sorts of ways, including dressing! If you fancy finding out how, get in touch and book a lesson!
Jane Clappison MSTAT
Posted by: janec | on October 17, 2018
I used to believe that if I was ill, and in hospital, I would sit by the side of my bed, dressed: until I got real.
Being ill sometimes means my nightwear gets changed because it’s been worn 24/7, and it’s beginning to smell.
Being ill means my sick-bed multi-tasks as a library, of books I want to read, but don’t have the concentration for. A roving dog bed, as snoring Kyra and I dance round the space. An observatory, as I delight at the wind blowing through the neighbour’s pine tree, it’s jostling branches playing a frantic game of tag. It also becomes a rubbish bin for tissues and other detritus.
Being ill is a challenging process on all levels, it’s different every time and we all navigate that as best as we can.
I am not in hospital, but I am ill.
I thought I would share some ideas, including Alexander Technique ones, that are helping me. They are not earth shattering. They come into my full focus and then wane. I do what I can. It takes perseverance. They are not a panacea but they bring me joy. They help me remember there’s more to life than feeling ill. They may give you some ideas to try out when you are ill? Even one will change the experience.
The root of my problem (literally) has been a tooth infection that spread and is ongoing. Sometimes all I can manage is to let my body get on with it. Other times:
- I notice myself in my environment, what is around me, sensing what is behind me (without looking) and that helps me be in the present moment. It calms me and placates my need to be well.
- I observe my body, where it is attempting to brace and hold against the unknown invader . My teeth, jaw, face and neck regularly take on a defensive role. Softening my eyes reduces strain and pain. Releasing the inside of my mouth into length and width ripples through my body, my shoulders drop and I breathe more deeply.
- Noticing pain free areas rather than painful areas also helps break a cycle that feeds the pain.
- I am remembering to balance rest with activity. I regularly take a walk round the house and garden. I have been exploring a few things as I do that such as:
Noticing my breathing as I move.
What happens if I breathe out when I stand up?
What happens if I take a breath in?
What happens when I don’t change my breathing and think crown away from feet as I stand?
What differences can I feel under my feet as I move from one surface to another, from carpet to wooden floor to stone to lawn?
I observe my reluctance to lay down in the day time. I remind myself of my niece as a baby, when she had not yet learned how to sooth herself to sleep, and she struggled with that transition from wakefulness to rest. However, through resisting rest, on laying down, I discover I have created pain. I rest, letting go of the effort of being upright, and as I release into semi supine it brings ease and relief from pain. My body thanks me. There’s a work in progress for me here as I challenge beliefs around this resistance and honour the need to sleep.
- When the energy rises I tackle the accumulating pile of dirty items that won’t go in the dishwasher. I enjoy the contact of my feet on the floor, the view of the changing colours in the garden, the sounds the water makes in the sink as I work. I also notice my gradually wrinkling hands and a growing tiredness as I sense the whole of me in this space.
- I am thankful for my husband’s suggestion to sit outside. Somehow I forget that simple things can be a blessing. I can enjoy how the delightful autumn sun gives life to the Acer’s vibrant feathery red leaves against the electric green garden. I have a special fondness for the shadows on the patio, especially the dancing butterflies. I even saw a Red Admiral yesterday, in October!
- I can laugh at myself. This morning before my husband went to work he came to see me in bed, to say goodbye. Wryly he said “New brooch?” gesturing to my top and grinning. I looked at it with puzzlement and there was a purple, lint covered, firmly glued, partly used, throat lozenge! Well, it had obviously done its job of calming my coughing and helping me get off to sleep! Being ill can be very messy, and amusing.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller
Perhaps these ideas might help you towards overcoming suffering? I wouldn’t recommend the brooch.
When you and I are well, perhaps we could work together to explore these ideas? Contact me or phone me to book a lesson or workshop.
Posted by: janec | on September 9, 2018
This is the second in a series of Alexander Technique (AT) student interviews I carried out. You will discover, as I share these interviews with you in my blogs, how unique each person’s experience of having Alexander Technique lessons is. Yet there are common threads you may also begin to discover.
These are highlights of Cathy’s experiences during and after Alexander lessons. They:
- helped bring mental, physical & spiritual calm,
- confidence, and pain relief,
- comfort and alignment and understanding of her body,
- balance on all levels,
- appreciation of the present moment.
I have changed some personal details of Cathy’s story for confidentiality reasons.
Like many others, Cathy turned to AT, many years after originally learning about it. She was in her 40’s and had experienced a number of bereavements, plus pain and anxiety. She felt she was living in her head and running away from her body. Cathy felt sure AT would help with these issues as it addresses the whole person.
When we started working together Cathy was keen to read up on AT and other related areas. Despite taking a scholarly approach, Cathy said she had to embrace the mystery of AT: until she experienced AT, she didn’t really know it.
Initially she noticed a comfortableness in her own body which she could not recall ever experiencing. Cathy felt recalibrated after lessons, that her posture improved and everything felt in alignment. Cathy wondered if this was like her body was as a young child.
Cathy noticed that some lessons brought up emotional issues and she felt she had to be a bit brave and see where the lesson took her. Despite this, Cathy said that lessons were mentally, physically and spiritually calming.
Cathy previously used a variety of techniques to help with pain, but now includes AT, and often notices that the pain isn’t actually there.
Cathy describes AT as a fast track to sensing her body. It helps her to own her body and see it as a good thing, when she used to be fearful of it. She said AT helped her inhabit her body and all its senses and be open to its messages.
Through lessons Cathy feels connected to herself (no longer alone) and that AT helps her balance and orientate herself to the world around her. It has improved her confidence and belief in herself. Cathy feels with AT she can be bold.
Cathy can now really appreciate the present moment, and a weed growing through tarmac can fill her with awe just as much as a beautiful sunset can.
Cathy taught active rest (an AT procedure) to her young child: combined with breathing, it helped them to ease tummy ache/indigestion.
AT helps Cathy on a daily basis to not act in a reflex way as she did before. She has learned how to stand back, wait and be still. With that, she feels she can make better choices and has balance in her life on all levels.
Fancy finding out about what you will gain after Alexander Technique lessons? Calm? Confidence? Balance? Pain relief? Appreciation of the present moment? Give me a ring or contact me.
Further individual interviews to follow in future blogs.
Alexander Technique Teacher