Lying down practice

I can improve my posture just by lying down?

A key Alexander Technique home practice is to lie on the floor with your head supported and your knees pointing up towards the ceiling. This position allows the whole spine to lengthen and decompress. Lying down on a firm surface gives you the opportunity to notice and let go of tension that might not be apparent when you are standing or sitting. Regular lying down practice can improve your posture a surprising amount. 


It is recommended that students of the Alexander technique do this practice for 10 to 15 minutes a day if possible (though even 5 minutes can be beneficial). This is a present-minded practice whereby students stay alert and aware of their surroundings, and consciously direct their body to lengthen and release tension. Because there is minimal demand on the body, lying down is a useful position in which to develop the skills of constructive thinking that you might later use in upright and energetic activity.


Lying down practice is good for breaking up long hours performing a repetitive or strenuous task, like working at a computer or bending over in the garden, and it can be helpful for relieving work tension at the end of a day.
 

Instructions:


1.    Find a firm but comfortable place to lie down. Carpet or a yoga mat are good options. 

 

2.    Rest your head on some books so it is in a neutral position, i.e. not falling backwards or pushed forward. 


3.    Keep your knees aimed at the ceiling. Place your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, so that a minimum of effort is required to keep your knees up. 


4.    Rest your hands somewhere on your lower chest or abdomen, with your elbows pointing out.


5.    Stay present to your surroundings – notice what you can see, hear and feel. In particular, notice the contact you have with surface underneath you.


6.    Quietly think your way around your body, giving the following directions:

  • Head/neck: Allow the muscles that run up the back of your neck and attach to the back of your head to soften, unclench and lengthen; releasing right up into the back of your skull. Allow your head/neck joint to soften so that your head is freer in relation to your neck and back.

  • Back/torso: Allow the muscles that run along the length of your back to soften and unclench, and allow your back to "fan out" around your abdomen, and also through your shoulders. Be aware of your ribs forming part of your torso, and allow your ribs to move with your breath.

  • Legs/hip joints: Invite the muscles that run from your pelvis to your kneecaps to lengthen; think of your pelvis falling back away from your knees, and melding with your back. Allow your hip joints to be free, and your legs to release away from your torso

  • Arms: Allow width across the top of your chest, and invite your collarbones and sternum to soften. Think of your arms releasing from your shoulders, and lengthening down to your fingertips. 

 

7.    Be alert to noticing what is happening in your body, in a curious and non-judgemental manner. Continue giving your body conscious directions for how you would like it to respond. You may add to the four basic directions given above as your deepen your Alexander Technique practice. 

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Photos by Megan Watson. 

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