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Out In The Day

Why am I posting this video and what does a cold, bleak, stormy day at the beach have to do with feeling better and less stressed?

I think that it is fair to say that we all feel better when we get outdoors. A walk on the beach, or in the park, or even down the sidewalk changes your mood and boosts your spirit.

But for us in the Northeast of the United States when December sets in and the days become long and dark and the wind can howl or the rain and snow can fall getting yourself outside can take heroic strength.

Right? Just watch the video again. I really had to talk myself into going outside that day. But I am so happy I did! It was exhilarating. I felt whole and free.

The wind howled and the waves crashed. It was beautiful.

Getting outside and going for a walk even a short one to the mailbox will change your mood. Getting outside and walking calms you down and lifts you up especially on a cold dark winter’s day.

Year’s ago when I lived in Dublin, Ireland I had a friend and colleague Frank Kennedy who also taught the Alexander Technique. He was an avid hill walker and would walk the hills around Dublin in the dreariest of days. As you probably know Ireland can be pretty rainy and cold. Frank used to say that you had to get “out in the day.”

I love that expression “”out in the day.”

No matter what the weather may be. Rain or snow, wind or cold you have to tell yourself to get out in the day. This is a sure way to build more calm and quiet into your life.

Thank you for reading my post. I have created a FREE short video course called Sitting for Success you can get it here and feel free to share it with friends. My holiday gift to you : https://app.ruzuku.com/courses/25548/about

5 Ways To De-Stress Your Holidays

Do you find the month of December challenging?     

The expectations, the family obligations, the social gatherings can really add up to some serious stress!

That is why this year I have created a mini course to help you counter the stress of the holiday season.

5 short videos that teach you simple but powerful and effective ways to be happier, feel lighter and less stressed out!

I have been teaching the Alexander Technique for nearly 25 years and one of the amazing effects of a an AT lesson is that you feel incredibly calm afterwards.

I just had a new student start with me last week and she remarked that she can not remember a time has ever felt so relaxed.

In this short video course I teach you several of these stress- busting practices. You can get the course here! https://app.ruzuku.com/courses/25154/about

How to Change Your Trajectory

Do you want to hear a surprising truth?   

You don’t have to take a 180-degree turn to make a change in your life. To change all you need to do is move one degree away from where you are right now and you will be on a new trajectory.

This is important. Many people think that change has to be radical like a total make-over, a do-over, a transformation from a cocoon to a butterfly.

It is hard to change radically. Humans like consistency and change needs to be subtle or else it is too overwhelming.

We live in a culture that places enormous value on extremes and because of this often times the complex is heralded and the subtle is overlooked or even dismissed.

For instance, you may think that the only way to get rid of back or neck pain is with strong medicine, a shot of cortisone or surgery. All of these options are extreme.

There are alternative ways that are more subtle and very effective.

Perhaps just changing the way that you sit, stand and walk could lessen or eliminate your pain and change your life for the better.

As an Alexander Technique teacher, this is what I do. In very subtle ways I teach you how to change the way that you move and even the way that you think.

Here is a testimonial from Rosemary who had watched a short video I had made about the importance of releasing unnecessary muscular tension in her body.

I often tell people to think about not clenching their tongue and jaw.

Clenching your tongue and jaw is harmful to the head/neck/spine relationship and this compromises the way that you move and live.

Mary, I just wanted to let you know how much better I am sleeping since watching your video a month ago.

You said to unclench your teeth. I didn’t even know I was doing that until you pointed it out.

Now, as I am dozing off, I tell myself “relax your jaw” and poof off to sleep! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

So, for Rosemary, here was a simple and subtle solution to address a common problem. Releasing the jaw to calm down so as to be able to easily fall asleep.

This is how the Alexander Technique works. An Alexander Technique teacher gives you cues either with verbal instruction or with their hands to

teach you how to release unnecessary muscular tension and to redirect yourself through space.

This excessive muscular tension interferes with the way that you use yourself or in other words the way that you move and even think.

As a result with less clenched muscles, you move more freely, with greater ease and very often with less or no pain.

Why don’t you give it a try!

There are many ways to study and learn with me. I teach privately in Little Compton, RI. Or you can purchase my Amazon bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence here. Very soon I will be starting an online video course. You can send me an email at maryderby1@gmail.com and I will send you more information. Get in touch! I would love to hear from you!

Photo: Unsplash, Sean Stratton

What is this sign, What is the Alexander Technique and Why Does it Matter?

Earlier this summer my name was included on Primary Care Partnership’s sign.

See! That’s me on the bottom shingle Mary Derbyshire, M.AmSAT.

It is such an honor to be included on the same sign as these other practitioners! Dr’s Cathleen Hood and Karen Ottenstein have selected a few allied partners to provide alternative methodologies alongside their traditional allopathic practice. It is not unheard of traditional doctors reaching out to acupuncture or massage therapy but it is highly unlikely that there are doctors who would reach out to an Alexander Technique teacher. Most doctors haven’t even heard of the technique and that is a real shame.

For those of you who do not know about the Alexander Technique, it is a mindfulness based practice that teaches you how to move better. Most of us habitually bring way too much muscular tension to our activities. This muscular tension interferes with the way that your body moves.

Often times pain and stiffness and poor coordination result from this excessive tension.

An Alexander Technique teacher teaches you how to prevent this unnecessary tension and as a result, you move more freely. Pain and stiffness are decreased or eliminated. Your balance and coordination improve.

You feel better in your skin!

And because your mind and your body are a unified whole what you do with your body affects the mind. Your thinking improves. Your clarity improves. You feel whole and connected.

I first met Dr.Cathleen Hood a couple of years ago. I will let her tell the story of how we met.

“I first heard about Mary from a patient. The patient’s story is remarkable. At an advanced age, she suffered a fall and fractured her neck, resulting in what the neurosurgeon deemed an unstable situation. He offered a surgical fixation so that slippage would not cause quadriplegia, but the patient declined.

She did not want to be impaired by the side effects of narcotics, so she called her friend Mary, who through the Alexander Technique gave her the tools to control her pain.

She was also regaining range of motion, and it was healing slowly by itself. With no drug side effects, she was mindful not to trip or fall again. I thought I need to meet this person!”

This story is so important for many reasons.

First, the Alexander Technique is not only effective at getting rid of pain but it can also be very effective in controlling pain. In these times of opioid addiction, there is an alternative to drugs and their extremely harmful side effects. For some, The Alexander Technique (AT) can be that alternative and should be taken seriously by the medical community.

Years ago I had an older student who was scoliotic and had severe pain her entire adult life. AT got her out of that pain. Her husband a rheumatologist at Mass General Hospital was so impressed he said that “every Dr. should have access to an AT teacher in his or her practice.” I am thrilled to be the Alexander Technique teacher for Primary Care Partnership!

Secondly, the Alexander Technique teaches you about self -care. A series of lessons will teach you the tools to be mindful of how you move. I love it when students return for their second lesson and remark that they are so much more aware of how they are moving.

Self- care is health care and self -awareness plays a part. How can you change and improve if you do not recognize what you are doing in the first place?

Thirdly embracing the Alexander Technique represents a paradigm shift. It says “Use” matters. What do I mean by “Use?” (Use is pronounced as loose) Use is the way that you use your body and your mind. How you sit, how you stand, how you walk, how you run, how you think it all matters to your health and well being! A LOT! And here is the thing- only you can change your use. I can help you or another Alexander Technique teacher can help you, but your use will only change and improve if you attend to it.

What do you think? Are you ready to change for the better? Click here to schedule an appointment https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=12624320 

Click here http://amzn.to/2fsZsnQ to purchase my Amazon best-selling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence 

Feel free to email me with any questions! maryderby1@gmail.com

Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

Are you stuck between a rock and hard place?

Check out this photograph!

These are actual rocks at our nearby beach!

Talk about being “between a rock and a hard place!”

Whenever I walk the beach and come upon these stones I always ask myself “How did that little rock end up in the position to be supporting that big rock?”

Perhaps these rocks represent you?

Do you ever ask yourself “How did I get into this situation and how can I get out of it?”

If pain and stiffness are putting you in between a rock and a hard place, I may have a solution.

The Alexander Technique is very beneficial for people who experience pain.

Often times it is the way that you move that is causing the pain. When you learn how to move well the pain and stiffness go away and you feel better!

Most people believe that pain and stiffness are an inevitable reality of aging. This belief is false. You can move easily into your senior years. The Alexander Technique is a skill that you can learn, that will teach you how to move better. I can teach you that skill!

The bonus is that the Alexander Technique is fun and really quite easy to learn.

There are several ways you can learn about the Alexander Technique. You can buy my book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence here: http://amzn.to/2slUDAx You can sign up for my 4-week video course that begins on Tuesday, July 5th, 2017 here: https://mderbyshire.com/agility-at-any-age-video-course/   Or you can study with me in person, here is a link to my calendar: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=12624320  

If you would like to contact me here is my email address maryderby1@gmail.com

It’s time to get out from under your rock!

Joy, Why You Need It!

Check out this photo of Gary surfing. Look at the size of that wave!

This is January in New England folks! Cape Cod to be exact.

There is no stopping him!

Surfers are a rare breed.

Living in a town that is considered a surfer’s paradise, I have worked with many over the years.

No matter what the weather, when the waves are big they surf.

They surf when the air is frigid. They surf when the winds are howling.

They surf when the rain is lashing.

On days when you or I wouldn’t dream of venturing outside, they surf.

And here’s the thing: they relish the wild weather that creates their waves!

From a surfer’s perspective the bigger the waves the better, and the storms that deliver those waves are celebrated.

I know Gary- he loves to surf. He might even say there is nothing on earth he loves more. He finds joy in surfing.

You can see the joy in this photo. Look at how light and open he is on his surfboard. Look how balanced he is on that wave! He is one with himself, his surfboard, the wave and the universe! He has found joy!

Joy is a motivator. Finding joy makes the impossible possible. Joy can be a new point of view!

In Born to Run author Christopher McDougall introduces us to the Taramahura tribe. These people can run barefoot 100 miles a day in the soaring heat of Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

McDougall determines that this feat (no pun intended) is due to joy!

Yes! To them running 100 miles is an act of joy.

“Glee and determination are usually antagonistic emotions, yet the Tarahumara were brimming with both at once as if running to the death made them feel more alive”1

Gary surfing off the New England coast in January, people running barefoot for 100 miles in the sweltering heat, these feats could never be accomplished if they were considered a drudge.

The one element is joy!

But you need to find joy. You need to be open to it. You need to welcome it! You need to cultivate it!

For the past decade, I have taught an exercise and movement class to the same group of people. We meet twice a week. We are committed to each other as much as we are committed to taking care of ourselves. We find joy in the movement. We find joy in the music and we find profound joy in our friendships with each other. For us exercise is not a drudge. It’s a laugh and a smile!

Like Gary, like the Tarahumara we too find joy!

You are welcome to join us!

 

  1. Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009) p.91

 

 

How a Tree Changed My Life

I am often asked how I came to the Alexander Technique.

Here is my story.

When I was 20 years old I had the amazing opportunity to go to London, England for one year to study acting.
It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The course was taught by teachers from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the Guildhall School of Music. We had instruction in acting, Shakespeare, playwriting, voice, improvisation, movement, fencing and stage combat. (Fencing and stage combat were my favorite.)
The Alexander Technique was also part of our curriculum.
Turns out that in England practically every stage actor worth their salt took lessons: Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, John Cleese, Benedict Cumberbatch (to name a few).
And hey – if it was good enough for them- it was good enough for me- right?
Actors and performers such as singers and musicians study the technique because it teaches them how to move better, breathe better, speak better and perform better.
Better sounded good to me- so off I went to my lessons.
Once a week I would meet with my teacher Duncan Woodcock. He would put his hands on my neck and head and gently guide me through the motion of sitting and standing at a chair.
At first, it all seemed very bizarre and not relevant at all.
I always felt better after a lesson but I could never explain why. Because I couldn’t put the experience into words I started to dismiss the value of the work. I let my skepticism kick in and I began to think that this Alexander Technique was for the birds.
Then this happened.
One day I walked out of my lesson and I noticed a tree near the sidewalk.
This tree looked more vivid, greener and more intense than any tree I could ever remember seeing.
I knew that what I was seeing and experiencing was the result of what happened in my lesson. I was changed! The world had changed! Everything about me seemed more alive!
The long walk home to my student housing was unlike any other. I felt buoyant. I was floating. I felt expansive and present.
Who knew that releasing unnecessary muscular tension could transform me in such a profound way!
I wanted more of this. Over the next several years I took as many lessons as I could afford.
I became an actress and worked in the hot off-loop theater scene in Chicago. But I kept coming back to the technique.
One day I went to a new AT teacher for instruction and he suggested that since I was so passionate about the work- perhaps I should become a teacher. This would be a great way for me to support my acting habit.
So I did. I embarked on my 3 year 1600 hour training course to become a teacher.
Once I started teaching I realized that I had wanted to become an actress because I really wanted to teach.
The Alexander Technique became my expression.
That was nearly 25 years ago.
The Alexander Technique has become a template for my life. It is an inspiration.
I would love to teach you the Technique. I would love to teach you how to move better, feel better and be better. The wonderful thing about the technique is that you learn it. It is not a therapy like a massage. It is a learned skill that you can practice, explore and hone. When practiced it becomes you.
Contact me for a lesson or download the Free 1st chapter of my book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence at www.mderbyshire.com. I will notify you when the book is available on Amazon for purchase and when my video course is online!

Self-Care


I like to think that most times I am a pretty easygoing person.
Certainly I am easy going with the exercise classes I teach.
I call them ExTension Classes! Get it?
I let people come and go as they please and only pay for the classes they attend. I never raise an eyebrow when someone hasn’t shown up in ages. I smile and nod and warmly great them.
Well the other day that all changed! I was like the lion in the photo!
I went on a rant and I roared and I became very pointed and direct and said to the group “It is the New Year and it is time for you to resolve to yourself that you will attend class on a regular basis! This is your resolution. Exercise does not work unless you do it consistently! You need to make a commitment to yourself to attend class regularly. That means put it in your calendar so that when the Dr.’s office, or a friend, or anybody says “Can you make it at 9 Monday?” you say “No, I cannot make it at 9 I have my exercise class!”
Done! Easy! You put yourself first!
I think that my rant was well received and gave my class a bit more direction. My rant prompted a wonderful conversation that ensued the following week.
The topic was self-care.
We know to eat well. We know to catch 8 hours of shuteye. We know that we need to exercise.
But do you know this?
No one can take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself. Not one person.
You have to be your own caretaker.
Self -care is health care.
Taking care of your self means moving more. Not just exercise. You need to move all day!
The human body was designed to move and our culture is way too sedentary. We are sitting ourselves to death.
So make a resolution to move more.
I will make a resolution to go on more rants and teach you more ways to improve your self- care. Deal?
Let me know how you are brining more movement into your life!

Photo: Lemuel Butler

Here’s a Quick Way to Stop the Rushing Around

Many years ago I was at a crafts fair and a woman was escorting her elderly mother. The mother was very old and frail and muttering something to herself over and over again. I asked the daughter what her mother was repeating and she replied “It will never work.”

I asked the daughter what her mother meant and she said that back in the day there was enormous opposition to the proposal of erecting traffic lights. Those who opposed the traffic lights said that they would never work and it was a waste of money and that no one would stop at the stoplights!uhjlmaa6s_q-julie-macey
Can you imagine what our world would be like without traffic lights and stop signs?

This little vignette has stayed with me for nearly 20 years. Its message resonates with me on many levels.

The ability to stop- to really, really stop is essential and provides the opportunity to regroup, reorganize, and decide.

Isn’t that what happens at a stoplight or stop sign? We stop. We wait our turn. And then we go.

 

Maybe we stay on the same track and go straight. Maybe we take a left hand turn or a right hand turn.

The skill of stopping gives us the opportunity to reorder ourselves, reorganize and within that framework –decide. Stopping allows us to decide to stay on the same path or turn down another path.

But unless we are driving down the street most of us don’t have stoplights or stop signs.

We live in a go-go, do-do world. We rush, we speed we can barely catch our breaths. We never stop until something forces us to stop like an illness or an accident.

But you can change that. You can stop. You can stop right here and right now.

Stop and wait and notice where you are. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you smell? If you are sitting then notice how you are sitting. If you are standing then notice that.

Stop and be still. Now notice the world around you and how you are in this world. Take in your senses. Experience this beautiful world.

At this point you may be asking “But how can I remember to stop? I get going and then I forget to stop.”

The answer is easy! Post it Notes! Place Post it Notes in places of transition. Place a Post it Note by the coffee maker, the refrigerator, the bath room mirror, the front door, any doorway, the dash in your car- any place that you make a transition. Just write STOP!

Let the Post it Note be your stop sign. Trust me this works and it is practically free!

Does this resonate with you? Please share your thoughts.

 

Photo: Julie Macey