Tag Archives: body mapping

Ahh, I never knew you had any pain!


The other day I was explaining what the Alexander Technique is about, it’s sometimes a challenge as I want to explain it for them to understand, this time I stuck to what I think it is about; A method to rediscover your inner freedom and aliveness then I explained further about by noticing your  balance with gravity and also noticing your balance with others.

He was in a typical sitting position, a bent back and sitting on his coccyx (the tail bone).

I asked him if he was thinking about how he was sitting, the answer was “Why”.

Time to get him thinking!

“Do you know you have sit bones” I asked

“What” was the reply

“Put your hand between the seat of the chair and bum and rock around, you should feel two boney bits, one on each side”

“Ahh”

“These are your sit bones, take your hands out and just rock on these bones.”

“Ahh”

We drank some more beer and later he said, ” You know what, the pain in my back that I have had for years has disappeared”

I replied “Ahh, I never knew you had any pain!”

I’d got him to notice how he moves even if it was only sitting. By noticing, he had rediscovered some of freedom and aliveness and was more in balance with gravity, his outcome was less or no back pain.

We drank more beer, he maintained his balance, well I was drinking beer, he was drinking coffee as he was driving later.

Just simple thoughts and ideas can help you rediscover your freedom and aliveness. Why not try it for yourself?

I’ve got loads more ideas.

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Rediscover your ‘it’


I just come back from my Sunday morning walk with my dogs, now it is time for a coffee and write my daily blog.

Today I had an extra one today as well, some may say that four springer spaniels is too many for a walk, I’d agree if they were all on leads, fortunately they weren’t. They just run free in the forest, ranging around me as I walk. They do keep an eye on me to make sure that I don’t get too far away and I do the same.

I use my walking to reflect on things, today I did a voice recording of what I was thinking; I’ll listen to it later or not at all. The general gist was that I tend to write about how to become present in this moment, I’ve written plenty of blogs about this but have never really moved into what makes Alexander’s discovery so special.

To be fully content with life we need to know where we are in time and space, much of what I’ve written about is mindfulness, being present in this moment. Understanding where you are in space is a little more difficult. The difficultly is that our habits put us in various physical contortions. Just observe people, you may see some peoples heads jutting out in front of their torso, I guess this is tiring but is normal to them, if you ask them they will say they are perfectly upright and have a pretty good posture, you can clearly see this isn’t true. They have faulty sensory perception of their own body, as I do and most probably you do as well. It’s a global problem except for the fortunate few, normally the successful athletes, sportsmen and women and performers but not always.

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Continue reading Rediscover your ‘it’

Your furry friend will thank you for it


In my last blog Dogs are a mirror of your thinking I wrote how you calm your dog by just knowing where you are in time and space (it’s at the bottom of the previous blog).

It’s useful for children too but it takes a little longer for them to notice.

If your dog is a mirror to your thinking then you can use their behaviour to notice what you are up to, you may not notice that you are on edge but your dog is messing around, may be chew things that shouldn’t be chewed. Noticing that your dog isn’t calm could be your opportunity to reflect on what you are thinking.

Are you:

  • angry
  • sad
  • depressed
  • anxious
  • extremely happy
  • being humorous
  • having a great time

If you are having a good time, well your dog just wants to join in with your happiness

If you aren’t feeling to happy , then it is time to stop for a moment and discover where you are in time and space. Your furry friend will thank you for it.

If you confident at stopping and resetting your ‘time and space’ you may be ready to check yourself out a little more.

We tend to, including me, know how well we move, we all move almost perfectly, our posture is pretty good, if you ask your friends about these points, you’ll probably get positive answers but when you look at how they move you may think otherwise. We all have a faulty sensory awareness, we think we know where we are in space but what we think is inaccurate. In Your boney hollow I write about the first step to reducing your faulty sensory awareness.

 

 

 

I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing


Now you understand where your sit bones are and also where your head neck joint is, if you  don’t then please read Your boney hollow and Acetabulum is one of those words I just love then you will discover where they are in your body and also what an acetabulum is.

What are your views and beliefs on how breathing happens and how does breathing happen within yourself.

Once I had some really skewed beliefs how I had to breathe, I thought I had to consciously breath when I did any strenuous activity and also I didn’t trust my breathing to happen on its own.

Unfortunately we can learn to control our breathing, this is necessary if you want to hold your breathe when hiding from someone and something or swimming under water. When stress and anxiety becomes a way of life, being conscious of your breathing becomes second nature.

Thoughts of:

  • He going to be angry with me – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • Thats a steep hill to walk up – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I don’t want to face up to something – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go shopping – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go to work – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing

The list is endless and you may have other reasons to hold your own breath. This breath holding is the initiation of conscious breathing.

Conscious breathing with anxiety is not a very successful partnership. The anxiety sets your breathing to a quiet mode with minimal diaphragm and rib movement Breathing takes place just at the top of your lungs, you may notice short shallow breathing with some movement of the scapula, the scapula moving forward so the glenohumeral joint rolling forward in space into a shrug.

Conscious breathing with the smallest use of your lungs is not adequate in fact it’s hopeless but that is what may people with anxiety do.

I know I was one of them.

I changed my breathing with help from others and I learnt how my breathing happens and the anatomy involved in breathing. I found the anatomy so important for me as it dismissed the beliefs I had in how I breathed.

Did you know your ribs move up and down hinging about your vertebra and sternum as you breath, this was a shock to me. I thought my ribs were just there to contain my lungs and heart, they didn’t move. Discovering my ribs moved down on an out breathe and up on in breathe was hard discovery to make, first because my ribs moved and secondly the direction of movement was illogical to me and sometimes still is.

The curve of the ribs with their movement changes the volume of air in the lungs. The ribs go down the air is displaced out of the lung, when the ribs go up the volume increases causing a vacuum in the lungs, air is drawn in to the lungs to equalise the vacuum with atmosphere.

There are many muscles that are involved in breathing, if you want to know more then it time for your own research. I might do a later blog about them if you want to wait.

The important thing to know about breathing is that you can just let it happen, when you start interfering with it, you will mess it up. Knowing the physiology and anatomy gave the confidence to leave my breathing alone. I still have certain triggers that bring on an asthma event, instead of jumping to my old trusty inhaler, I use the knowledge of how my breathing happens, notice any rising anxiety, and consciously control the rising anxiety and allow my urge to control my breathing to diminish.

These skills didn’t happen over night, it was may months, in fact a couple of years, so don’t put your inhaler in the bin and do it my way, things my turn nasty for you. Gently, gently is the key.

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Acetabulum is one of those words I just love


Continuing on from Your boney hollow now lets move to the other end of your spine. At the very end is your tail bone, the coccyx, then slightly higher is your sacrum and the sacrum attaches to the lumber spine, then to the thoracic spine on to the cervical spine to the base of your skull.

So how many vertebra do you have?

It’s very easy to remember, excluding the coccyx and sacrum you have breakfast, dinner tea. You breakfast at 7 (the cervical spine, C1 to C7, the neck), then dinner at 12 (the thoracic spine T1 to T12) and tea at 5 (the lumbar spine L1 to L5).

You can now impress at the next quiz.

Back to the sacrum, the sacrum is part of the pelvis with the two hip bones, these bones are connected by a movable joint the sacroiliac joint, the movement is very small but it good to know that there is movement, and at the front where the two hip bone meet there’s a disc similar to the ones in our spine, the symphysis pubis, so though you may think the pelvis is a fixed boney structure there is some movement  between the bones, more akin to shock absorbers.

Each hip bone is made up of three bones which fuse together during childhood, these are the ilium, you can feel this bone, the top part is the iliac crest, if you prod around your waist line the bone you can feel is the iliac crest. The other two bones are the pubis which is at the front where the symphysis pubis connects and to the rear and the ischium. You will need to do some research on the shape of the pelvis as I can’t describe it fully in words.

The centre where these three bones meet is the acetabulum, the socket for the ball of your hip bone. Acetabulum is one of those words I just love, whoever and whenever our bones where named they sometimes used common terms that were useful, acetabulum is one of them. Acetabulum means vinegar bowl, I imagine they used an animal pelvis for their vinegar during there banquets and feasts

Back to the ischium, the lower part is the ischial tuberosity, also know and the sit bones, lets find these sit bones. Please sit, they are easier to find when sitting, move over to one of your sit bones and on the other side put your hand under your raised sit bone and the chair, then move back to upright, now for the warning, this may hurt as your fingers get squashed so look after yourself. Hopefully you have felt something boney, that’s your sit bones.

In the world of Alexander the sit bones are very important, when sitting they contact you to the ground via the chair or stool you are sitting on. If you consciously know the location of your sit bones and your head neck joint, connecting the two ends of your spine with a thought of your head lightly resting on the top of your spine, you may be able to extend that lightness down your spine to your sit bones and sense that you are fully supported on your sit bones, gently balancing. I have the image of a gently moving grass in a meadow, each piece of grass is fully connected to the earth with the head of seeds just move with the gentle breeze.

We have evolved to be in movement, so whilst you are sitting image a blade of grass moving with the breeze and transpose the thought to yourself, being grounded by your sit bone and allowing your head to gently move with freedom all the way down your spine.

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Is Shoulder such a bad word?


In my last blog Your boney hollow is misled you, you may not have noticed, I mentioned your shoulder. Some people take umbrage about have an area in your body called the shoulder. I tend to agree however it is in our common language.

If you have an image of your shoulder as being like a doll with moveable arms perhaps you will need to read on.

The area of the shoulder is where the upper arm (humerus) connects to the body via the scapula and via the clavicle to the sternum, there is no skeletal connection on the back.

The range of movement in the arms and hands are huge and also must be strong and stable to allow lifting and pushing heavy objects. To achieve this we have evolved to have a very movable structure that is stable and very strong as well. The muscles on the whole of your back and front of your torso are involved in your arm movement. In fact all your muscles are involved.

Lets experiment, that’s if you feel it’s appropriate to you, move a hand out to the side or in front of you avoid touching anything with your hand. Now imaging your arm is the jib on a crane, just like the one’s used in building very tall buildings. Start lifting a very heavy load that is too heavy for your imaginary crane, now what happens, my crane starts to topple, does yours?

You can put your arm down.

The crane operator has a few options, firstly stop and lower the load, then either reduce the load or strengthen the crane, perhaps adding more counter balance weights and adding heavier load bearing cables would be successful.

We do these adjustments when we lift an arm with or without a load, we adjust muscle tone around our body to counter the effect of falling without even knowing it. This activity is happening continuously, even when I’m sitting writing this blog. Name an activity and this need to be in balance will be paramount in that activity.

I digressed, the shoulder.

I used to think that the shoulder was something a bit nebulas between my neck and upper arm joint, my shoulder blade also had something to do with it as well. Is that similar to your thinking? Add a comment, if  you like, and tell me about your shoulders beliefs.

Here’s a bit of anatomy, I’m deliberately brief as you can always do your own research to know more.

Three are three joints from the sternum to the humerus,

The sternoclavicular joint between the clavicle and the sternum.

The acromioclavicular joint between the scapula and clavicle, this joint is at the acromion process of the scapula,

The  glenohumeral joint between the humerus and the scapula, this joint is at the glenoid cavity of the scapula.

The scapula, the shoulder blade, is a plate like bone that has many muscle attachments to your back from down to your pelvis and up to the top if you neck, please read Your boney hollow if you want to know where the top of your spine is. There are also muscles attached to the sides of you ribs that move the scapula forward around your ribs. We have a huge range of movement in our scapula so that we can use our hands in activity, without the scapula’s range of movement we would be severely constrained.  How about experimenting by moving your scapula to experience the range of movement but don’t strain yourself, be kind to yourself.

You may think that your scapula is all on your back but it isn’t some of it wraps over the top of your ribs.

Put a finger on your sternum and follow along your clavicle, collar bone, until you reach the end of the clavicle at the glenohumeral joint, at the top of this joint is the acromion and just below and slightly to your centre line is the coracoid process, these are both parts of the scapula and at your front.

So what is a shoulder?

Can you tell me!

If you want to know more click here.

 

 

Your boney hollow


One of my previous blogs I wrote about how your lungs function with the aid of your diaphragm and ribs Simply change the volume in your chest cavity. Please read again and perhaps try the breathing experiment.

What I didn’t mention was where you are in space and time when trying the experiment. Hopefully you are sat on a chair, it’s safer on a chair as you may get a little dizzy when experimenting with breathing.

Take a moment to notice how you are sitting, I would recommend that your feet are fully on the ground, if the chair is to high you could use some books or something flat and solid for your feet to rest on. Are you resting your back against the back of the chair, if you are could you just rock forward a little so you pelvis is taking the weight of your upper torso.

If anything I suggest is painful or awkward then please do something else that supports and helps you. 

Now I want you to imaging where your head neck joint is. Nobody is watching so be honest with yourself and point with a finger where you think your head neck joint. Hopefully you where honest with yourself, I want you to learn from not knowing something or your educated guess.

Now I’ll tell you where your head neck joint is;

Put a finger on one of your shoulders and run this finger a long the top of your shoulder to your neck.

Hopefully you will be touching your neck somewhere in the middle, this is roughly where the load bearing part of your neck is. Now run your finger up your neck to under your ear, you have a boney hollow just there. Now repeat with your other hand, on your shoulder, along the front of your shoulder to your neck and then up to the boney hollow under your ear. Between fingers is your head neck joint.

Next time you are using a mirror repeat and have a look.

With your fingers under your ears in the boney hollow, nod and tilt your head to get the experience that your head actually moves and balances from this point.

Can you notice how much freedom you have in your head neck joint?

You may be thinking, why do I need to know this to breathe better?

To improve your use and functioning in anything you do, including breathing, it helps if you are aware of where you are in space and you have an understanding where your joints are and their movement. Some consider that the head neck joint is the most important joint in your body, I do. From this joint and the vertebrae in this area, all nerves, arteries and veins pass to and from your brain to service and support your body in your use. If this are is compressed or constrained in some way then your use and functioning may be impaired.

Now have a thought of distance between your head and the top of your spine, where your fingers are/were. Extend this thought down to the bony part of your pelvis that is resting on the chair. Enjoy this thought, now perhaps repeat the activity in Simply change the volume in your chest cavity with your thoughts of being connected from the top of your head to your pelvis.

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Do you know where your head is?


I was once upon a time stuck and wrote loads of blogs about being blocked, a few weeks ago I stopped being blocked and discovered that I didn’t want to write anymore.

I’ve been pondering how to start writing again, writing something that’s not about being blocked. It’s been difficult to work out what to write about and still don’t have much of a clue at the moment.

I know it can’t be made up and it must be authentic.

You may have noticed from my Facebook page that I was in London last weekend to learn more about group workshops about Alexander’s discovery. My conclusion to the workshop is to keep it simple, don’t go into detail as the audience and myself won’t understand what needs to happen. I’ll confuse everyone.

The first topic is to know where your head is, that’s simple and you all know that, I did say wow at one point as did everyone else. The wow was the height from just below your eyes and the top of your head, the distance is greater than everyone thought. Have a look in a mirror or even better get a friend to place one of their hands on top of your head and the other just below your eyes. They stand still and you walk backwards making sure they don’t move. Now take a look at the distance between their hands, wow.

So why is so important to demonstrate at a workshop?

This is the approximate top and bottom of your brain. You have little or no proprioception for your skull ( there is little or no understanding where your skull is in relation to the rest to your body) but we try to understand where the top of the skull is by using our eyes, obviously the top of the skull is above the eyes but we generally underestimate the distance, hence the wow.

This is important to understand to help you to reduce your faulty sensory awareness that you, everyone including myself have. Some have greater faulty sensory awareness than others, Alexander’s discovery will help improve your awareness.

Alexander’s discovery is that your head neck back relationship physically effects everything you do, your moods and psychological wellbeing. So knowing about where your head is and where you head sits on your neck are the first essential building blocks for good health and wellbeing.

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Simply change the volume in your chest cavity


This is a series about breathing, the first part is Troublesome Breathers

Try this out, but first please read Troublesome Breathers.

Intertwine your fingers of your hands, knuckles pointing up. Now imaging your knuckles are your diaphragm and your arms are your ribs.

I’m going to ask you to move your hands up and down, if you can keep your shoulders quiet so they don’t move too much.

Hopefully you are sat down, if not please sit down.

Now lift your hands up, if your shoulders are still your elbows should come close to your body. Do this activity a few times and notice what your elbows are doing.

Hopefully you have done this a few times and may be discovered something, if you want add a comment of what you have noticed.

Now for more imagination; your fist is your diaphragm, your arms are your ribs and your shoulders are the joint where your ribs attach to your spine. Hopefully that makes sense.

Now raise your fist, what happens to your arms? For me my arms rotate about my shoulders and are drawn into the side of my chest.

Now lower your fist, what happens to your arms? For me my arms rotate about my shoulders and my arms move away from the side of my chest.

This is what happens to your ribs when your diaphragm rises and lowers.

Air is exhausted from your lungs by two major activities, your diaphragm rising and your ribs rotating downward that reduces the volume of your chest cavity.

Air is inhaled in to your lungs by two major activities, your diaphragm descending and your ribs rating upward that increase the volume of your chest cavity.

Now for a warning – please be seated the first time you experiment with this activity and stop if you get dizzy.

Revisit the activity of moving your fist up and down in front of your chest, notice your arms moving in and out to the side. Do it a few times.

Move your fist to the lowest point in the activity above, now this time imagine your fist your diaphragm. Breath out, as you are breathing out raise your fist, stop when you want to, don’t do any forcing. Now on your in breath allow your fist to lower as your diaphagm descends.

Repeat a few times.

Stop if you feel light headed or dizzy.

Repeat again but this time synchronise your diaphragm with your fist and your ribs with your arms. As your diaphragm rises your fist rises and your ribs descend as do your arms, reducing the volume in your chest cavity.

As your diaphragm descends with your fist your ribs rotate up and away as do your arms, increasing the volume in your chest cavity.

That is how we breathe, we simply change the volume in the chest cavity, on the in breath a partial vacuum is created as the chest cavity volume is increased, air is drawn in to balance the chest pressure with atmospheric pressure. On the out breath the air in the chest cavity is displaced as the diaphragm and ribs reduce the chest cavity volume.

You may have notice a change in your breathing, when I practice this I have a change in the quality a my breath, it’s hard to describe apart from it feels cleaner and I feel more buoyant.

Here’s another warning, take care, wait a moment, you may feel light headed so remain seated until you feel safe to move.

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