There’s more than just the Whispered Ah for asthma control


In the last blogs I’ve eulogised the Whispered Ah but this only a small part of what has helped me to get my asthma under control.

The Whispered Ah is functional and doing activity or it can be, when first experimenting and have little experience of the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique is about inhibition, non-doing  and direction, so initially the Whispered Ah doesn’t seem to fit with non-doing. It may have been devised as a deflective alternative activity to break a habit of poor breathing, I’m being deliberately vague of what poor breathing is.

Perhaps FM Alexander took the Whispered Ah from whom ever invented the activity and applied the Alexander Principles.

I recon from my experience asthma sufferers just push on with what they are doing as whatever the cost, in Alexander terms  they end-gain, I needed to stop doing this by non-doing, putting myself in neutral, when in neutral strange things start to happen, maybe sounds become clearer, you hear a clock ticking for the first time, vision softens and becomes clearer, you sense the clothes touching your body, someone else’s body heat, in short, you notice what your senses have been reporting all along but you’ve need to busy to notice.

From this neutral place inhibition is available ‘Conscious and ongoing prevention of habitual interference with optimum poise’; there’s a lot of detail in this quote which will have to wait for another day.

Whilst inhibiting plan your next move, perhaps initiate a Whispered Ah but this don’t just do the Ah, have a thought of the Whispered Ah, keep the thought in your head and don’t visit the parts you thought of i.e your diaphragm, rib, tongue etc. Once you have established your thought let is go and allow the Whispered Ah to happen. I find the quality quite different from the doing Whispered Ah.

Give it a go.

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Ah – The Whispered Ah the antidote to asthma


I’ve never felt so awkward and silly pulling a funny face, breathing out and making a strange gravelly noise.

That was my introduction to the Whispered Ah!

After my first few attempts my Alexander Technique teacher asked me how wide open I thought my mouth was. I answered “very wide”; so go and look in the mirror; to my surprise I’d barely opened my mouth. How could that be, the answer may be possibly in a later blog.

My Alexander Technique teacher was introducing me to an alternative way to breathe from my usual shallow gasping asthmatic breath. Little did I know that I couldn’t breath in as I hadn’t breathed out, so all I was doing was  trying to top up my lungs that were already full!

The Whispered Ah was developed before FM Alexander included in his repertoire but I believe he modified the activity to suit his technique.

The Whispered Ah is an activity to bring your breathing to your consciousness, namely the activity of breathing out, allowing your lungs to empty as your diaphragm rises and your ribs move together, then waiting for the in breath to happen and experience your diaphragm move and your ribs move outwards as your lungs fill.

There is a lot more detail in how to experiment with the Whispered Ah on YouTube and elsewhere, please search them out.

I’ve recently been experimenting with flaring my nostrils to initiate the in breath, I sense a reflex between my nostrils, sternum and ribs, do you have a sense of this reflex?Once you have experimented with the smiley face with soft eyes, tongue resting just behind your bottom teeth, jaw leading forward and down from the TMJ … then initiate the out breath you will have experienced the Whispered Ah, for an asthma sufferer it’s a breath of fresh air.

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Asthma and how the Alexander Technique helped me


In 1995 I had a very bad year, some of the most stressful events in my life appeared at once, then I got the flu – asthma struck me with a huge bang.

I could only walk a few yards before I needed to stop to get my breath back, it was just horrible, I seemed to be permanently using my inhaler. On one event I was admitted to hospital, the paramedic prepared me for a drip in the ambulance, I thought I had some medicine through the drip and instantly recovered.

I thought, asthma is psychological? A needle in my hand connected to nothing and the symptoms stop!
 
I’d never really thought what asthma was, here is a definition
•a respiratory condition marked by attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It is usually connected to allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.
•from Greek asthma, from azein ‘breathe hard’.
Well, that may be true but is it always, sudden onset of asthma after a trauma could well be different; I recon it is a muscular response to stress related to the fight or flight reflex. Breathing is dependant on the muscles and skeleton of the thorax and also the muscles abdomen however with asthma caused by stress the control on these muscles goes awry.  I found that when I had an asthma attack, it wasn’t that I couldn’t breathe in but I was full of air and couldn’t breathe out, inhalers eased the effect but did nothing in the long-term. I simply wasn’t using the array of muscles available for breathing as my thorax was locked in a fright, unwilling to move, not knowing how to move. I sort of breathed from my shoulders, sucking in air by scrunching up my shoulders. My shoulders felt like they were up near my ears. I was breathless if I did too much activity, I went in to panic mode if i did too much activity, a vicious circle with no escape if I didn’t have my inhaler to hand; well that’s what I thought.
I accidentally discovered the Alexander Technique 10-12 years after I started with asthma. It just made me feel good, I enjoyed the feeling of lightness, greater ease, I was happier. My inhaler use reduced but I didn’t put it down to the Alexander Technique; I’ve noticed that it’s always something other than the Alexander Technique that has improved what has improved.
I remembered the night in the ambulance; A needle in my hand connected to nothing and the symptoms stop! 
Perhaps the Alexander Technique can help me manage my asthma. I went on  a voyage of discovery, firstly I discovered that the Alexander Technique is not a therapy but training how to use myself efficiently and effectively, in fact efficaciously.
My asthma is the output of many habits I’ve developed over my lifetime; they were all valid when I developed them but may not be valid now. The Alexander Technique allows me to stop and choose how I want to approach stimuli, say a stressful situation, instead of my habitual tightening and resultant asthma, I can choose something else.  The Alexander Technique isn’t a quick or instant fix but I think well worth the effort, why be reliant on inhalers when I can consciously control my actions.
I now live an inhaler free life, when the asthma indicators arise, I can now stop, choose and get on with my life.

One year to go, well nearly


Two years in and one year to go. It takes a long time to train as an Alexander Technique Teacher, when I’ve finished my three years training I will probably recon I’ve just started my training.

When I started training, I thought three years was far to long, little did I know. Alexander Technique teacher training initially isn’t about teaching others, it’s learning the skills for myself, thats really learning, no skimping allowed, to just playing at it, giving it lip service. It is hard as you have to immerse yourself in the technique.

The learning the technique is an uphill struggle, some things are hard, others just plain difficult. Once these struggles are overcome more appear on the horizon.

Over the past two years I’ve tried to work out what the Alexander Technique is, I’ve had various definitions, todays is about being truthful with loving intent to myself first and these emotions will spill over to others.

If I don’t look after myself how can I look after others.

There is a larger overview on these thoughts in that I must give myself time to stop, reflect and choose what to do next in following my goals. I’m happy to let my goals evolve as time passes as who really wants to achieve their goals, there would be nothing to do when they are done.

Have you ever thought it should be easier than it is, I've got some secrets I'm willing to share on how to make your activities easier.