We recently ran a very successful event for Alexander Technique Week 2018, the theme of which was ‘Stress? Take it Lying Down’. I am very grateful to The Old Church N16 as they kindly allowed me to use the premises for free, as we were fundraising for the local charity Safaplace. I also want to thank my colleague Jessamy Harvey, for all her help in setting up and running the event.
The Ballet Years
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Use the Alexander Technique While You Walk
Winter brings rain, fallen leaves, ice and sometimes snow on
the ground, which can make our footpaths very slippery and treacherous.
very tempting to tighten up our legs, feet and ankles, the muscles
around our hip joints and even our neck and shoulder muscles when walking on slippery surfaces. Most of
the tightening is the result of anticipating a possible fall and this can
be tiring plus restricts our movements and circulation – and it’s a waste of energy!
doesn’t serve us. In fact, tightening our neck muscles reduces the
information we can obtain about our balance, and locking our ankles and
hips also interferes with our ability to fine tune our balance. A recent Research Trial concluded that Alexander Technique lessons aided older people with their balance and fear of falling, so that they felt more secure.
First Aid as CPD
Over the 30 years I have been teaching, I have attended several short First Aid courses and recently took part in a full day Emergency First Aid at Work Course with Siren Training, which was organised by The Old Church where I act as a volunteer (thank you very much!). Fortunately I have never yet been in a situation where I have needed to use First Aid. Usefully, First Aid can also be seen as part of my Continuing Professional Development as an Alexander Teacher. Not all Alexander teachers have done First Aid and I would like to encourage them to do so, as I came away feeling reassured and confident that I know more about what to do in an emergency and can better care for any vulnerable AT pupils.
So Why Might I Need First Aid?
Some students that come for Alexander lessons are at risk of having diabetic or epileptic seizures, some may be prone to fainting, whilst elderly pupils may be more vulnerable to having heart attacks for instance – and accidents can happen any time. Knowing what to do under such circumstances will help both me and my pupils, should needs arrise. Of course everything I’ve learned on the First Aid course can be transferred to helping anyone who needs such care, so it will also be valuable when I’m involved with local community activities. With our health service increasingly under pressure, I do feel reassured that I am more likely to be able to help someone until one of our brilliant NHS Paramedics arrive.
The range of topics covered during the First Aid at Work course can be seen on the certificate below and cover most of the situations that I could come across in my work. These courses have a big experiential and hands-on content, so I came out with some very practical skills but I did also have to take a very short written test, in oder to get the qualification – that was a surprise and it was the first I’ve done for many years!
First Aid for All?
It would be great to have every Alexander Teacher doing some training in First Aid. These courses offer knowledge and skills I believe we should all have – but I hope we never need to use them!
In fact I would like to see First Aid taught throughout the country in schools and colleges so that everyone, eventually, gains at least basic First Aid skills.
And I Still Love my Work!
One of the main reasons that back problems can happen when sneezing and coughing, is that when we hold ourselves in a fixed or twisted manner, with locked knees, contracted muscles and habitual tension in the lower, lumbar region of the back, this tightness will be increased by the spasms of coughing and sneezing. The spasms will obviously be more exaggerated if you have long bouts of coughing so that the jolting can strain your muscles, sometimes even damaging an intervertebral disc, causing great pain.
Bend Your Knees When You Cough and Sneeze!
However, if we learn to unlock our hips, knees and ankles so that they can bend, this can help our back to be freely lengthening, so the muscles are able to respond more elastically as our ribs expand and contract with the sneezing and the jolt can be softened so that it ripples through us, rather than straining us. This way of sneezing and coughing can also be helpful for people after having abdominal surgery, possibly with the addition of holding the abdomen for extra support during the sneeze – something I found incredibly helpful after having major surgery.