Are you sitting comfortably?
Regaining control of your posture through the Alexander Technique can lead to a whole host of health benefits including curing back pain and relieving migraines. Imagine carrying five bags of sugar around all day. Incredibly, this is what a human head weighs – and this is what the neck and spine have to support, all day. However, the human body is designed to cope, it has just forgotten how through years of misuse. If a head weighing as much as 5 kilos is held in a position that is off balance, it’s no wonder we can suffer occasionally with neck pain, backache and general physical fatigue.
The Alexander Technique is very simply a practical method of improving the way we `use’ ourselves in everyday situations – walking, standing, sitting or bending. The key thing to remember is that it is not about perfect, stand-still posture because we are moving all the time. It is relaxation in action! To enjoy healthy posture we need to be loose, tall and in balance with the poise of a young child. It’s about moving in balance with minimum effort, and it’s a joy to experience this quality again after so many years of bad habits.
Most people can regain much of their natural poise. It’s never too late – 1 have pupils from 11 to 103 years old! Not only that, the benefits from sessions in the Alexander Technique can be immediate. The Technique not only helps with posture, but also helps to alleviate a wide range of symptoms resulting from a loss of natural posture. Aches and pains, migraine, stress, poor breathing, sciatica and high blood pressure can all be helped. During a short course of sessions we become more in control of our bodies and we learn the skill of maintaining it for ourselves. It can also lead to feelings of improved energy, empowerment and confidence. My clients come from a variety of backgrounds, business people including captains of industry seeking a better posture and more commanding demeanour, performers or sports people looking for that extra edge, mothers-to-be, writers, doctors and lawyers. And it means you look good too – as we learn to loosen and come up to our full height, our breathing becomes freer and deeper, allowing us to properly expel toxins, leading to healthier looking skin and shinier hair. It can even increase one’s height by up to 2 inches!
An introductory session is the ideal way of gaining first hand experience of how the Technique may help you. In a first session 1 always start by going back to basics by reminding pupils what good posture is. It is the posture of a two year old, before emotional and physical stress and bad habits lead to tension, stiffness and strain. Using my hands, 1 very gently encourage the pupil to loosen and release tension, especially around the neck, shoulders and back, and to come up to their full height.
This happens effortlessly as we gradually revive the pupil’s instinct for natural poise. 1 show people how to move, sit, stand, bend, walk, all with less effort and in balance. As our `use’ improves, many painful symptoms disappear. All the while, as one thinks of loosening and lengthening, the body responds, becoming freer, and we enjoy better, more natural poise. We gradually become self sufficient at maintaining better poise for themselves.
Initially, 1 would normally suggest a course of 15-25 sessions, with the frequency of sessions being more intensive at the beginning. Gradually the principles become more familiar and we learn to let go of long held postural habits. Top up sessions are then all that are required.
After only a few sessions with the Alexander Technique, clients often feel empowered, getting back in control of their bodies and feeling good.
We can however help ourselves by following some simple tips – try to avoid heavy bags or at least use a back-pack or diagonal strap. High heels can wreak havoc, throwing balance forward and leading to stiffening of the lower back. Save stilettos for a special occasion! If you work in a sedentary job, aim to keep as upright and relaxed as possible and try to walk about every half hour. At night, it is better to lie on your side or back rather than front. Experiment with using feather pillows to support the head in order to avoid neck stiffness in the morning.
Noel Kingsley’s practice for the Alexander Technique is located in Cavendish Square, London W1