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Ibiza and the Alexander Technique

Learning about your use of self

There are many holistic treatments here on Ibiza, everything from yoga retreats to reiki to all kinds of healing practices. Some things though can often be a quick fix; a retox often follows a detox. I wanted to share with you my experience of a tool called the Alexander Technique, this differs because you start a real journey of self exploration, which has the potential to be life-changing.

Used for a variety of ailments

I'd heard about how this technique could really build your own awareness of use of the body and give ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. Also I knew that it could help with a variety of ailments from a bad back to a stiff neck, and as a person who used to be hunched over his laptop I'd had more than my fair share of those things, so I decided to try it out.

As well as aches and back pain I had what felt like constant fatigue and was pretty stressed with one thing or another. Whilst meditation was helping a bit with the latter, the tiredness persisted. I had done a few Alexander classes in London and I'd noticed from the first class that I was walking more lightly and starting to sleep better though it wasn't clear to me how. Keen to carry on, I sought out a teacher when I moved to Ibiza; fortunately there is a very good one here, Elena Mari Torres and she speaks several languages.

Understanding the psycho-physical support system

Where Elena differs from other teachers is her application of a forward-thinking “psycho-physical support system” that gets you to understand how your skeleton and the ground below supports you to relax into yourself and discover the natural ways of using the body. Children use their bodies correctly and over time we stop doing that: we slouch, we crumple ourselves up and let stress dictate our movement. By directing your mind to each area of your body you can get it to relax and release tension, just with the power of intention. Classes will usually start with lying down and sitting exercises where you go through all the parts of the body including skeleton and muscles and start what feels like a new relationship with your body.

The most important part starts with relaxing the muscles of the neck, which has a massive effect on relaxing everything, then you work muscle by muscle to relax with a particular focus on the head, neck and back relationship. Then you examine movement, usually sitting and standing and it's here you start to notice your bad ingrained habits; you learn to be more poised and more serene. I've been doing it for over a year now and have become quite intimate with muscles in my body that I didn't even know existed. I feel a lot calmer and am able to take things in my stride, plus using more efficient movement and even sitting in a more relaxed way has banished the tiredness. Only a big night out seems to tire me now.

It is something you have to try out for yourself, watching online videos won't be anywhere near as good as a personal teacher as we are all different. Unlearning habits can take time and following this technique is a process and one that gets you to understand how you react to stressors around you, important in our 24/7 world. Elena quotes a saying, which goes: “habits can't be thrown out of the window, you have to go down the ladder a rung at a time”.

Health benefits

There is a network of teachers around the world, but if you are here for even a short time, Elena can give you either a simple introductory class or a more intensive one where you can explore any specific challenges you have and understand more about the technique. It's one of those things that aids in just about every activity you do.

There are lots of health benefits with lots of science to back up the claims. It's not a cure for ailments specifically, more the better use of the body to help with things like chronic muscle pain, back pain, respiratory problems, stress and anxiety and it's amazing for increasing energy. It also helps to refine practise of any sport or helps you to get more out of yoga and pilates or even doing weights. It even improves performance for musicians, actors and performers and this island has its fair share of those. It's even known to ease pregnancy and childbirth.

I hope this story has inspired you since I have gained a lot from practising it. It's probably one of the best mindful techniques around and in reality we should all do something like this – a lot of people have to come to it as a last resort and found it has helped them where other techniques and practices failed. We all lose our connection with ourselves from time to time. This brings you back to you. Try it!

For more information, please click here.

WORDS | Julian Heathcote

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