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News Shopper reporter tries out Alexander technique to improve her posture
Worried about the effect modern living might be having on her body, reporter RACHEL CONNER tried out the Alexander technique to improve her posture.
SPENDING hours in front of the computer typing up stories and hunching over my shorthand pad to scribble down conversations is probably not the best thing for my body.
At 23, I am not in bad shape, but I get the occasional backache after a long day so I decided to try the Alexander technique to see what I could learn.
This is my first job of the day and as I am feeling pretty relaxed I am quite surprised to be told I am tense.
Apparently there is too much tension in my upper back, so my teacher Jill Payne gently prods me until I relax the rights muscles.
Designed to break the habitual behaviour which causes aches and pains, the Alexander technique is about "unlearning" behaviour and being able to relax muscles.
The lesson involves my teacher moving me and putting pressure on different parts of my body, subtly changing position.
Ms Payne said: "Living in a civilised world made us lose our natural way of doing things. We're not evolved to work all day at computers or to relax on comfy sofas. The technique is a way of rediscovering and returning to a natural, easy way of using yourself.
"The way we live is wearing ourselves out. Most people get massages to relieve the tension. They might give temporary relief but it doesn't change the underlying problem. We address the causes not the symptoms."
At the end of the session, my back is aching from using new muscles but I am not sure I feel any different, or any more relaxed.
I am definitely thinking more about my position though, and I am not sure whether that is why my hips were aching so much that evening.
About the technique
THE Alexander technique is named after Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor who first developed it after repeatedly losing his voice on stage.
While doctors were unable to find a physical reason for his problems, he started using mirrors to examine the way he was using his body.
After realising he was contracting his whole body in preparation for speaking, he experimented with ways of stopping it and managed to cure his voice loss.
Today the technique is used to counter the aches and pains caused by the stresses of modern living.
About the teacher
Teacher Jill Payne first turned to the Alexander technique 16 years ago as she was struggling to cope with chronic fatigue, back pain and depression.
Too ill to live a normal life, she started taking lessons and six years later qualified as a teacher.
She said: "I was too ill to live a normal life but by learning to release chronic tensions I found my health and state of mind improved dramatically, and they continued to do so.
"After my first session I immediately felt better but it took a while to see real improvements. There are a huge list of things that get better with the technique."
Ms Payne will be taking introductory classes in St George's Church Rooms in Albemarle Road, Beckenham on May 26 and June 16.
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