Esther Miltiadous BSc Hons, MSc, MSTAT Alexander Technique for Oakwood and Enfield

Blogs. Julyblog

Alexander Technique helps improve your posture, does that matter? - 5th July 2018

Alexander Technique teachers often have a problem with the word posture! It might have something to do with the fact that often, when we are talking to someone and they find out what we teach, they straighten up and pull themselves into a military style posture all tight and uncomfortable. They have heard that we are something to do with teaching ‘good posture’ and we, the posture police, are ready to judge them for slouching!

This idea of holding yourself in the correct position is often thought of as ‘good posture’ but this is definitely not what we teach. So, as a consequence, we sometimes ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and reject the word posture altogether. My feeling is that we need to take a page out of Humpty Dumpty’s book 😀 (in Through the Looking Glass). He says ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less’. We can redefine what we as AT teachers mean as posture, after all most of us have the right gist about what ‘good posture’ is and that it might be good for us, but generally we don’t know how to achieve it without a lot of pulling, pushing and excess tension.

I am reading a great meditation book at the moment (I read and meditate regularly) and in it there is a description of ‘good posture’, it has great resonance with the Alexander Technique.

‘Good posture...puts the body into a position wherein it’s energies tend to circulate in a bright and calm way. The ‘good’ of good posture is not about an outward appearance; it’s that which remedies stagnation or tension. However, the balanced alertness of good posture doesn’t come around through bodily effort alone. It is a matter of settling the body into balance with a steady and sensitive attitude. The patience and care with which we develop good posture is a development for the mind in its own right: rather than forcing ourselves to sit up straight, we’re learning to massage, give and relax our attention to attune to a poised alertness......a moment-by-moment application is needed.’ Ajahn Sucitto, Meditation, A Way of Awakening.

I teach people good posture by giving the tools they need to use their bodies in a poised, balanced and well co-ordinated way. AT provides a practical way of reducing excess tension (that can be a physical response to stress). This can improve health and the way we function. These skills allow us to look better (have better posture) and feel more at ease and confident in ourselves. Having ‘good’ posture as I define it aids free, efficient, pain free movement and gives grace and reduces effort we need to achieve our goals.

Good posture is not just important for aesthetic reasons or for our physical wellbeing, the way we use our bodies affects the way we think. We are psychophysical beings, there is no real separation between mind, body and emotions. AT trains both the body and mind, we can use the body to calm and positively affect our mind (as well as the other way round). We know that mindfulness meditation can lead to feeling more relaxed physically; but if we use our bodies in a poised, calm and balanced way we can bring calm and clarity to the mind.

In a fascinating book I read a couple of years ago (How the Body Knows it’s Mind by Sian Beilock) there are many examples of this body to mind influence. One short example that stands out is
‘when you are in a slumped position you don’t feel as good about your accomplishments, such as how you just performed at a presentation. Simply assuming a happy or sad bodily posture, a confident or anxious mien, conveys to your brain what emotional state we are in.’ Emotions are expressed in the body as changes in physical tension, destructive emotions adding tension to our system. But the good news is that with the embodied awareness AT teaches, we can recognise these reactions and use our thinking to change our bodies and relieve this tension enabling us to look, feel better and move better.

'Good posture' is so much more than just standing up straight, achieved through the skills Alexander Technique empowers us with, it’s leads to improved physical and mentally wellbeing.

If you would like to find out about ways to learn AT email or call me using the contact details at the top of the page.

Blogs. knee xray

Prehabilitation and Rehabilitation and the Alexander Technique - 7th June 2018

Alexander Technique is becoming contagious in my family! Firstly my mother raised my interest in Alexander Technique after having lessons and this was the reason I gave it a go, now it’s my Dad’s turn. He has seen the changes Mum and I have made over the years, observed the benefits we have experienced (some of which are explained in my May blog listed below), but never quite understood what AT was. Dad thought it was a bit like physiotherapy and although he listened when I explained, somewhere along the way the full nature of the beast never really made a connection. Not feeling the needed to convert everyone I knew into AT lovers I left it that!

To read the rest of this blog click here.

Blogs. Back pain

Sciatica, a pain in the butt…and one of the reasons I came to the Alexander Technique - 9th May 2018

Sciatica can be a real pain in the butt, and down the leg or legs, and into the feet, its awful, I know from experience. In my late 20’s I was a personal fitness trainer. I had always been sporty a competitive swimmer, part of the school teams for athletics, netball and basketball, I trained with weights, was strong and flexible. Ever since my teens, however, I had also suffered with reoccurring bouts of lower back pain. Not too frequently, but when it arrived it was very uncomfortable, I took anti-inflammatories and had physiotherapy and it then seemed to subside again until the next time!

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Blogs. stress

Learn to Destress and Unwind with the Alexander Technique - 7th April 2018

We have probably all been slightly stressed from time to time. We can put ourselves under pressure or feel pressurised by external situations; jobs, household stuff, exam pressure or illness, to name just a few possibilities. This low to moderate level stress can leave us feeling tired, tight (especially our neck, shoulders and back), not quite our usual selves and reduces our emotional resilience. We may have even experienced deeper episodes of stress or a feeling of anxiety in particular situations. This is all normal and part of the human condition. (I have experienced both stress and anxiety at different times, in my mid twenties I had a period where I suffered with panic attacks and later in my early thirties the lose of someone close to me had a deeper impact.) Our bodies are well designed to cope with short periods of stress or anxiety, but problems tend to occur if we get stuck in a habitually stressed and anxious state. Something we often don’t recognise, it creeps up on us!

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Blogs. Monkeying around

Monkeying Around in the Garden - 2nd March 2018

Gardening is one of my favourite hobbies. I love being creative, seeing my garden change throughout the year, being physical and getting some time to myself in peace. From an Alexander Technique point of view, it’s also a great way of being mindful in activity, and think about my habits and pausing to think how to look after myself as I’m pottering around digging, pruning, racking and picking out the weeds!

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Blogs. Nervous/excited

Excited or Nervous? Maybe both - How the Alexander Technique helped me with an interview! - 29th January 2018

Last week I was given a very exciting opportunity, Robert Rickover, an American Alexander Technique teacher, invited me to take part in two interviews for his Alexander Technique podcasts called 'Body Learning'. I subscribe to these podcasts and there are some great interviews about all different aspects of the technique and how, where and with whom, it is taught. He invited me to talk about my work with the children at Educare Small School (3-11 years old), in Kingston and about my thoughts on teaching children AT in general.

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Blogs. Pause

The Wisdom of Pausing - 5th January 2018

Pausing is the second key that unlocks the door to change. (The first being awareness of habit, as mentioned in my first blog).

The Alexander Technique offers many unique skills and principles that enable change, but the concept of pausing in order to respond rather than react to a stimulus seems to be a universal wisdom.

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Blogs. Time for change

3 Important Qualities that Allow Change - 7th December 2017

(or how to get the most from your lessons)

The first step to being able to use the Alexander Technique is to become aware and mindful of our habits. The useful ones (that allow us to live in a poised and balanced way) and those habits that hinder our good co-ordination. This awareness plus the skills that Alexander Technique teaches allows us to change; so that we can use ourselves in the way we were designed to and make life easier.

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A Short Introduction to the Work I am Part of at Educare Small School, Kingston.

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