Alexander Technique in East Yorkshire

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The Alexander Technique and softening the centre

Softening the centre

Let your belly soften.

Not a chance!

The Alexander Technique teacher held his hand softly on my abdomen.

Not a chance!

I confessed I just couldn’t do it. We discussed how my years of dancing, and thinking I had to hold my belly in, contributed to the chronic tension. It’s something a lot of dancers do. It’s also what a lot of western women do, conditioned into thinking that a flat belly is more acceptable.

We agreed I would do a few experiments at home to invite it to release. On all fours was one position I tried. However, the one that had the most impact was standing side on to the mirror and letting my belly go and realising it didn’t look any bigger and actually it allowed my ribs, and the area in front of my ribs to soften and rest. I often tell this story to my pupils when they are doing the same thing! I also remind them that if you look at healthy, fit, indigenous populations they often have a softly protruding belly. It’s normal.

This week’s project is tied into the one from last week. Thanks to a recent refresher lesson for myself I noticed that when I did my whispered Ah’s my gut was stopping me from breathing in with ease. There was a pressure at the bottom of my breast bone. It’s one of the places where I feel discomfort when I get IBS. Unfortunately, following a course of antibiotics it has returned! It was also there because my old habit of tightening my abdominal muscles was back! Well, it never went actually, although I had learned to use the Alexander Technique to inhibit it.

If you fancy joining me, here’s what I did to bring about non-doing:

Notice your belly (non-doing, being mindfully present)

Invite it to soften towards the midline (the spine)

Notice how that affects your breathing – for me it usually allows me to instantaneously take a bigger breath, followed by a huge reduction in abdominal discomfort from IBS.

Your belly naturally will rise on an in breath, and fall on an out breath (perhaps with the exception of extreme athletes)

You might like to do it before a whispered Ah and see if that changes things.

Let me know how you get on?

Jane Clappison, Alexander Technique Teacher
01759 307282
www.janeclappison.co.uk

The Alexander Technique and Breathing

Breathing in,
I got back to the present moment.
Breathing out,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

(Thich Nhat Hahn)

This week’s “project” has been my breathing. More about why in this month’s blog. However, I was surprised to find, when I paid attention to my breathing, that it was often rapid, and in my upper chest. A deep breath felt difficult because my abdomen was tight and restricting the movement of my diaphragm.

Becoming aware of each breath, and maintaining attention on the breath, is a way into the present moment for many religions and disciplines.

Learning the Alexander Technique does free up the breathing. However, my discovery about my breathing reminded me that breathing can be affected by anxiety, emotion, tension, physical issues: many things.

My breathing has become slower and easier by applying the Alexander Technique. I will share the things I have been doing with you, over the next couple of weekly prompts. They have an indirect effect. They bring me to a place where I can let go of tension and my breathing does itself.

Here’s one of the things I have been doing (to bring about non-doing):

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Sick bed musings

Sick bed detritus

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.

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