International Alexander Awareness Week 2017
This October teachers of the Alexander Technique – a practice which helps you to change long-standing habits that cause unnecessary tension and is acclaimed by celebrities across the globe – are urging you to take stress lying down.
For the first time ever, the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) is leading National Lie Down Day in an attempt to equip us with a century old technique which helps to manage stress.
During Alexander Awareness Week (9 – 15 October) the Society and 3,000 teachers worldwide will be encouraging everyone to pick a day in which they can lie down for ten minutes in the ‘semi-supine position’.
The position, also known as ‘active rest’ is the best way to restore and reconnect the body and mind; a little like the reset button on a computer. As well as realigning the spine, it stops you feeling overwhelmed, allowing you to focus on yourself and providing vital time out to quieten the mind and process emotions.
Acknowledging and taking control of the emotions associated with stress, whether they are anger, fear or helplessness is key to dealing with them. It is when they begin to control us that they become dangerous and, at worst, can lead to severe physical and mental health problems.
Sue Laurie, an Alexander teacher who has taught the technique to Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and actors at the RSC and National Theatre says: “Lying in the semi-supine position is the best way to stop and take charge of your mind. And although you’re not actually ‘doing’ anything, this can be harder than it sounds.
“We often have the knowledge of what we should do to take care of ourselves but when you’re stressed or fraught, the thought of pausing or slowing down, let alone be seen to just lie down on the floor, isn’t instinctive!
“We want to change that and show people how taking just ten minutes out of their day can make a huge difference. The impact that the Technique has on body and mind is immediately palpable.”
As Alexander Awareness Week gets underway, STAT is asking people to share pictures of themselves lying in semi-supine wherever they can using the hashtags #LieDownDay, #SemiSupine and #AlexanderTechnique.
Sue continues: “This could be at home, in a quiet space at work or even in the park at lunch time. I once had a pupil who felt she needed to lie down and go through some Alexander whilst shopping in Marks & Spencer – so she did!
“We need to make it more acceptable to take time for ourselves and be responsible for our own wellbeing. Lying in semi-supine should be as habitual as cleaning your teeth and it’s every bit as preventative in terms of our health.”
During Alexander Awareness Week participating teachers, (including me!) are offering discounted lessons to new pupils. Please call Katrin for details (or see below) 07466 151576
For those who are already familiar with the Technique, here is a reminder of how to lie in the semi-supine position
Lie down on the floor, preferably with a mat or soft blanket underneath your body and a couple of paperback books under your head to raise it slightly. The books are the right height when you feel no tension in your throat
Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Feel the back spreading onto the floor
Take some time to allow yourself to ‘arrive’ and settle in this new position
Notice how you are in contact with the floor and your head with the books; notice the main weight-transmitting areas – the back of your head, the two shoulder blades, the back of the hips and the feet
The best way to stop and take charge of your mind is to notice the thoughts whirling around in your head and think ‘no’ to them; in the Alexander Technique we call this ‘inhibiting’. Bring your mind back to concentrating that your neck is free, lengthening, going up and out of the shoulders and that your back is gently spreading and widening onto the floor
Each time your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to where you are here and now, simply noticing what you can see, hear and feel
Try calmly thinking these thoughts (remember they are just ideas never actions to do):
think of the whole of your back, starting at your tailbone and gradually working all the way up to the top of your spine, with the idea of a gentle unfurling all the way up, together with an expansion or widening of your torso
since your hips and feet are fully supported by the ground you can imagine your knees so free that they could just float up away from your hips towards the ceiling
When you have managed to get yourself really still, think of something that makes you feel stressed and notice what it does to your body. Then inhibit and let your thoughts become quiet again. Think about the stressful thing again but this time omit the tensions you noticed as you inhibit and you can see just how powerful your thought is
If you can practise working on this you can be in the present moment, free yourself from the negativity of anxiety and take the steps towards a stress free life
During Alexander Awareness Week I will be offering
a free ½ hour semi-supine table-turn session (extended into week 16-20 October)
a reduced rate 40-minute follow-up lesson at £25 for anyone who has booked a table-turn session (available throughout October only)
For details please call Katrin Maclean 07466 151576