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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
I got back to the present moment.
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.
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