The Alexander Technique is ‘the study of the conservation of energy for human beings’.
Would you like to learn how to really rest so you can better heal and get your zest for life back?
It is normal to be tired after working in the garden all day, climbing a hill or working all day and juggling family commitments too. Often some self-care like having a soak in the bath and an early night will have you feeling better after a couple of nights.
Fatigue is different.
It’s like having rechargeable batteries that don’t hold their charge.
Do you feel exhausted before you even get out of bed. Do you sometimes feel foggy headed , achey and can barely achieve one thing in a day?
There are many ways of managing fatigue – the spoons method, where you try and balance the amount of energy you may have for the day, and apportion it out with the activities you plan to do. Even washing and getting dressed take a certain amount of energy and are budgeted for.
What if you could use your energy more efficiently, do everyday activities with less energy consumption and actually increase the base levels of energy you have? You can with the Alexander Technique.
The quality of rest
One thing that is often missing, and I like to shout this from the rooftops – that the quality of your rest is literally vital to your recovery.
And this starts with the quality of thinking that can be guided for you, by your Alexander Technique (AT) teacher, whilst you do the basic self-care activities. After all, these include breathing, balance and movement. All the foundational discoveries and movements that Alexander teachers have been sharing for 150 years.
Many people who have fatigue find their way to an Alexander Technique teacher for support. Personally, I’ve worked with people after a stroke, during cancer treatment, dementia, and there are studies showing how it can help with Alzheimers, neck pain and back pain too.
I’m Lucy Ascham, and with my associate Hester Singer, we have nearly 30 year’s collective experience of working with people to rest, recuperate and recover for illnesses, viruses too. Hester used the technique daily in her recovery from cancer.
Fatigue can affect all areas of life, you may feel unsteady on your feet, confused or more upset than usual. Fatigue isn’t just about energy levels – it affects people physically, mentally and emotionally – we are always working with the whole person.
The remedy is both holistic and about restoring wholeness. The NHS and Doctors work and specialise in body parts – eg Ear, nose and throat. Bones. Blood. etc But as people, we know that if we have pain in one part it affects another part and our emotions and energy levels. AT looks at the whole person and the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit. We are interested in our habitual reactivity or chosen responses to what is going on. With the right support, managing and improving fatigue is absolutely possible.
Rest is absolutely necessary, and the quality of rest will promote healing.
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
Even small gains along this neural network of choosing our attitude can bring lasting improvements.
One simple addition to your day is that of Constructive Rest 5 minutes building up to 20 minutes.
Constructive or Active Rest and Semi Supine
are names given to the position of maximum advantage to your spine and therefore breathing and nervous system.
Here are some tips:
- Find somewhere safe and firm to lie on – the rug, yoga mat or floor is best
- Its ok to do this in bed if you need to at first
- Use a few soft backed books to support your head – this gives your bones the best feedback
- Lie on your back looking up at the ceiling, knees bent, feet pads on the floor/bed.
Now that you are ready, let us begin
The position itself can be useful in itself to support the natural curves of your spine. This can help with alignment, efficiency and being more easily upright and self-supporting.
It is what and how you THINK now that makes the biggest difference.
If you are so fatigued that you can’t think right, then resting or sleeping like this is a good start.
If you can listen to an audio guide, I’ve added the recording for you in this blog a little further on. It’s timed at 20 minutes, the optimum time to rest on your back like this, and will guide your mind and your muscles towards their best easy-resting length. Build up to that 20 minutes – it is gentle and strong medicine!
What to do whilst listening?
This is not supposed to make you zone out, relax or go to sleep. Stay awake, eyelids open.
The ideal would be that your attention and muscular effort come into better balance so that you can stay awake, alert and rest. Let your muscles release tension. This is the antidote to Fight/Flight. This consciously restores our nervous system to the Rest/ Digest mode, ready for healing.
Letting go of tension – extra work – muscular effort will help you do less and retain more of your energy.
In the short term you may feel more tiredness.
This, I suggest is not new tiredness, but that we let the dam wall down and some of the tiredness you’ve been trying to keep away comes to be felt.
Being over-tired for years eventually catches up on us
Most people I work with have been keeping busy and doing more rather than feel their tiredness, sometimes for years. I find it always catches up on us. When you rest and stop, you can catch up with yourself, and reset – daily.
Having chronic fatigue can be a worrying time and a very different set of circumstances to live with. You do not need to do this alone. I implore you not to be. People are made for social contact, care and touch. These elements help with the healing process. This is what AT offers. Many clients prefer it to a massage. There is the same quality of care, a lot of touch – but also empowering skills to use now and in the future. And often a lot of tears and laughter along the way.
Learn to stop, and really rest and recover
This audio guidance also invites you to return to your fullness in all directions – height, depth and width. Not by stretching or doing or wriggling – but really by releasing and restoring you at your fullness. Again, with less effort to simply be here, you will save effort and energy. An AT teacher can show you how.
This exercise bears repeating often. Changes will happen. I’d love to know how you get on, will you write me a line and let me know?
FREE AUDIO GUIDE with Lucy
A short cello introduction then Lucy’s voice guides you to 20 minutes of Constructive Active Rest. Stay awake. Stay alert. And really rest.
How do you feel now? What do you notice in your body? Write it down. Download the audio – its gold – but only if you use it.
Here’s an everyday sign, with a puzzling offer
I saw a sign outside a coffee shop a while ago, it said :
“Thirsty? come in for a hot drink
Hungry? we have cake and snacks
Tired – come and try our coffee!”
What do you see?
I see this message and many more like it – we might drink and eat to attend to thirst and hunger – but oh well, tiredness is for sissies, we need to keep going, have a stimulant rather than stop and rest! Wow. Really? What are the consequences of over-riding the signs and signals from our body about tiredness again and again. Fatigue.
This sort of sign is so normal perhaps you didn’t even notice the last line – it is a coffee shop after all.
But it is pernicious, to keep busy, to keep stimulated and to keep over-riding our brain and body’s messages of tiredness.
The answer to feeling tired – is rest, more rest or sleep
Think of a dog – they go for a walk, play with a ball, run and race and chase – and they come home eat and sleep. They don’t distract themselves with the phone, tv or other screens. When they are tired, they sleep. It is a simple equation that we too often interrupt or ignore. Some people are often super active – busy with work, commuting, family, house, family, sports, and when they are tired – they don’t rest. No, they go for a run instead!
The habit of reaching for stimulants can be entrenched in their daily routine and part of their lifestyle and social life. Questioning it can upset the apple cart.
It isn’t for me to make these choices for them. My work is to gently bring things from the subconscious to the conscious, to be with this habit with care and love, and then ask my client if they notice the effects of this habit and if they want to keep it. Is it still useful in this moment. Yes or No. That’s it. You choose.
The equation is simple – stop the stressors coming in if you can – news, busyness, stimulants. Look after your body/mind and decompress physically – resting and recovering. Or keep doing the same thing and get the same results.
By taking Alexander Technique lessons a person learns to use their mind and body more effectively. So, if you are using less energy every time you carry out an everyday activity, such as getting out of a chair or picking something up, then the energy you have lasts longer. I believe that the Alexander Technique actually increases your base energy levels too.
What a client says :
“I started to have Alexander Technique lessons when I was very ill with ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was amazed to realise just how much tension I held in my body. Lucy taught me ways to be aware of this tension and to learn how to release it. My energy levels have improved enormously, and I am now an ex-CFS sufferer and able to walk my dog, do a full day’s work and re-join my running club.”
Working together in rest and daily movements helped Angela live with the energy she had, build on that gradually doing more, and regain her energy levels with more self-awareness and self-care to keep maintaining herself and return to the activities she loves.
The Alexander Technique is ‘the study of the conservation of energy for human beings’.
Alexander Teachers however, are not in the business of treatment or therapy. We are in the business of re-education. Marjorie Barstow, a renowned Alexander Teacher and the first student of F.M. Alexander to become a Teacher, once described the technique as ‘the study of the conservation of energy for human beings’.
This is an apt description and especially relevant for CFS, ME and Long Covid sufferers for whom the issue of energy conservation is critical.
“When we give and take in an easy foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.” excerpt from REST from CONSOLATIONS by David Whyte
Weekly online REST class 8.45-9.15 am UK GMT £10 and audio recording
I hold an online class most Thursday mornings called Ready to Rest. At the beginning of the day 8.45-9.15 am on zoom, I’ll stay on for another 15 minutes to answer any questions. Details and bookings are on my website Book Now page. I now record the audio for these sessions of my script so you can listen again and again to support your daily practice.
Recovery from fatigue is about taking things one step at a time. Today, brushing your teeth may be the only thing you can do. With an AT teacher by your side, you’ll do that will less stress and strain and more ease and balance.
If you are curious to know more, or have a hands-on experience of this work, please get in touch email@example.com it is always a delight to receive communications from you.