The King’s Speech and The Alexander Technique…Is there a link between Lionel Logue and FM Alexander?

By Colin Tully M.STAT

The remarkable story of George VI’s recovery from a debilitating stammer as documented in the film, The King’s Speech, has captured the public imagination in the past few weeks.

As a teacher of Alexander Technique I was struck by the similarity of the film’s main character, Lionel Logue to F.M .Alexander. Both men were Australians who travelled to England in the early part of the twentieth century, both establishing unorthodox but successful teaching practices, seemingly working miracles with their unconventional techniques.

Although Alexander was a generation older they quite independently developed a deep interest in the art of elocution, both particularly having a passion for reciting Shakespeare.

I was excited to discover that when Logue decided to leave Australia to travel to Europe and the USA in order to explore more advanced methods of voice production that he intended to visit ‘the great master, Alexander,’ in London.

I have not as yet been able to find out whether Logue did in fact take lessons with Alexander. It certainly would have been a natural thing to happen with the two men living close by each other in London. On seeing the film I was struck by some of the underlying similarity of approach that the two men had. Both sought to change the physical and mental rigidity in their pupils, freeing them from the patterns of behaviour that were holding them back from achieving their true potential.

In spite of his success Logue did not train someone to carry on his work after his death. Fortunately, Alexander was persuaded to initiate a training course in the 1930’s and his methods and ideas are nowadays taught by hundreds of Alexander Teachers throughout the world.

Alexander (who was born in Tasmania in 1869) was himself very interested in the problems of the stammerer and devoted a whole chapter to the subject in one of his books. It was in fact by responding to his own problems of voice loss when he was a young actor that he evolved his methods. He spent several years painstakingly studying himself in mirrors whilst speaking and reciting, eventually completely curing himself of his vocal problems. The insights and techniques which he evolved over this period have become known as the Alexander Technique.

In lessons the ‘pupil’ is taught to develop a greater awareness of how they move and respond in everyday activities of life. The indivisible connection between our thoughts and our muscles is explored; unconscious, habitual tensions and responses come to our attention giving us more choice and freedom in how we act, think and move. Stammering is just another example of people unconsciously reacting with unnecessary effort. This unfortunately often becomes worse as people try to do something to overcome the stammer. With the guidance of a good Alexander Teacher we can learn not ‘to do’ and not ‘to try’ and can restore our natural tendency towards ease, balance and co-ordination, not just in speaking but in all our activities.

Colin teaches the Alexander Technique at MNHC and also at Bristol Alexander Training School

Ffi www.colintully.com

Bristol Alexander Training School

Therapeutic massage: A great way to look after yourself!

By Jo Song A.P.N.T

Whether you are feeling run down, tired or stressed, simply need to relax or have a more specific problem you need help with, Therapeutic Massage can be a really beneficial and nurturing part of your regular health care. Deeply relaxing and enjoyable, Therapeutic Massage improves circulation, gently manipulating the soft tissues and muscles of the body, optimising flow of blood and lymph, bringing fresh nutrients and oxygen to the body and aiding elimination of toxins. It lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels, slows down the heart rate, calms the nervous system, reduces stress, boosts the immune system and improves sleep .Therapeutic Massage releases muscle tension, softens adhesions, improves muscle tone and can be helpful with a broad range of ailments.

Many clients come at crucial times in their lives, e.g. during times of emotional upheaval or following an accident. Since Therapeutic massage is an holistic treatment, clients usually experience deep relaxation and a promotion of their sense of well-being. Many people now use massage as a regular part of their health care programme, thrilled to have discovered such a wonderful way to look after themselves!

Jo lives with her three children in a village near Hereford. She is a member of the Association for Physical and Natural Therapists and the General Council of Massage Therapists. She is also a trained Doula/Birth companion. She is trained in both Swedish and Therapeutic massage and takes a detailed case history at the first session to identify appropriate treatment for each client.

Therapeutic massage: Gentle touch for stressful times

By Jo Song A.P.N.T

As a Therapist I see clients arrive stressed, anxious and weary, with restless minds and aching bodies. I see them leave relaxed and peaceful, with a lift in their mood .I am always struck by the powerful effect of simple nurturing touch, this most basic of human needs, which seems to be less and less part of our culture. Touch goes beyond words and gets us out of our busy minds and into our bodies. I see the effect of relaxation extending to the whole person. Inner feelings of tension and anxiety are replaced by calm, tranquillity and a sense of emotional well being. Tense muscles register this change and their relaxation becomes deeper and more permanent..

Massage is very effective in the reversal of stress. It calms the nervous system, reduces blood pressure, lowers the heart rate, improves circulation, boosts the immune system and feels fantastic! Massage lowers the levels of Cortisol, the stress hormone and increases levels of Seratonin which restores sleep patterns. Clients who have regular massage report that they feel emotionally and physically stronger and more able to meet with the stresses that everyday life brings.

As well as being deeply relaxing and enjoyable, Therapeutic Massage can help with a broad range of ailments such as back, neck and shoulder pains, sciatica, headaches, anxiety attacks, insomnia, depression, asthma and high blood pressure. It optimises the flow of blood and lymph to the body, circulating fresh nutrients and oxygen and aiding the elimination of toxins.

You don’t need to have aches and pains to benefit from massage. Many people now use Therapeutic Massage as a regular part of their health care programme, thrilled to have found such a great way to look after themselves!

Jo, a mother of three, is a member of the Association of Physical and Natural Therapists (A.P.N.T) and the General Council of Massage Therapists. She is trained in both Swedish and Therapeutic Massage and always takes a detailed case history at the first session to identify appropriate treatment for each client

For more information, or to buy a gift voucher, contact Monmouth natural health centre

Reap some Relaxation this Autumn at Monmouth Natural Health Centre

Many situations in life can make us feel stressed, whether the pressure comes from the home environment or the workplace or even how we perceive outside influences in the world as a whole that we just have no control over. Our response to it can be as varied as the individuals we are.

Stress can affect people of all ages and backgrounds at times and may lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms: irritability, moodiness, muscular aches and pains, headaches, digestive problems, anxiety and insomnia.

Long term stress can have a profound and damaging effect upon our well-being leading to a higher risk of health problems such as heart disease and raised blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, fertility problems, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, cancer and addiction to cigarettes and alcohol.

Many of the therapies we offer at Monmouth Natural Health Centre can help you to address the stresses and strains of life in a positive and beneficial way.

Ease away those tension induced aches and pains with a relaxing Massage; talk things through with Counselling and Psychotherapy; let your subconscious mind help reduce feelings of anxiety with Hypnotherapy; try Acupuncture or Homeopathy for treatment of a wide range of stress-induced physical, mental and emotional symptoms; or improve your overall well-being with a relaxing session of Reflexology.

For more information about each therapy, visit our Centre within the beautiful Bridges building in Monmouth, take a look at our website or phone and ask for an informal chat with any of our practitioners to help you make your choice. We look forward to helping you ‘Reap some Relaxation’ this Autumn.

Holistic Healthcare for Winter Wellbeing at Monmouth Natural Health Centre

Unlike the specializations of medicine, dentistry, and psychiatry, a holistic practitioner regards the whole body and mind as one closely integrated unit, and also, obviously, a person’s beliefs, their perceived direction in life and death, play a distinct role. Health is not just an absence of symptoms, it is that feeling of wellbeing, a bounce in the step, the delightful elasticity of a stretch, some little thing that makes you smile.

Health is also dealing with the problems that we face all the time. Irrespective of how careful you are, sooner or later, you will still receive a threatening non- payment letter. My mother in her 80s was panic stricken by receiving one such missive, not realising that she had already paid the sum by direct debit. Another harshly stressful pressure for the generally law abiding citizens is that it is probably impossible to go through life without breaking any law. Each little pulse of adrenaline received alike, from an unremembered demand notice, or a near miss in the car, has a cumulative effect; overworking some systems, causing anxiety and maybe sleeplessness.

If substances such as coffee and sugary snacks are inserted into this framework, they increase the stress effect on the mind and body, and if this continues, serious depletion results, affecting the basic metabolism and hormone balance. No one sided approach will sort such a fundamental problem, and it is clear that such a person will need all round support in order to make some lifestyle alterations.

Here at the Monmouth Natural Health Centre we have a variety of therapies and therapists, because it is as important to find someone that you can work with. Do talk to our experienced and sympathetic practitioners to help you make your choice.

Holistic Health for Winter Wellbeing at Monmouth Natural Health Centre

Feeling healthy is not something you really notice. A sense of well-being carries you through each day and you feel at one with life. What is noticeable is when there is pain. Sometimes pain is physical, sometimes emotional and sometimes it’s hard to define where it is. Wherever it is, it blocks the flow of life. Alternative medicine systems recognise this blocking effect and each system has it’s own way of understanding it, and methods for dealing with it.

Holistic medicine acknowledges that the nature of life is movement, that this movement happens on many different levels and in different systems (e.g. body, mind, spirit), and that each of these levels and systems affect and interact with each other. My headache will make me feel grouchy, feeling grouchy and angry can give me a headache, talking to a friend can make me feel better.

Some people seem to enjoy life and have a sense of well-being despite being seriously ill, and others find seemingly mild symptoms very depressing and hard to cope with. We’re all different and always changing in response to everything around us, the weather, our diet, the news, our age, our relationships.

Holistic medicine can be a great help in maintaining this responsiveness or in giving a nudge in the right direction when things get stuck and painful. At Monmouth Natural Health Centre we offer a wide range of therapies, so whether you need a nudge, or something more profound, give us a call and we’ll do our best to help you.

Hypnotherapy

By Nicola Schramm

The hypnotic state is natural and we all experience it every day of our lives. It’s that state we pass into before falling asleep, similar to daydreaming. This special state of relaxation allows inner focused awareness of the unconscious mind. In this focused state it is possible to pay closer attention to our own unconscious sources of information and guidance. Through working with hypno-analysis negative emotions which can also contribute to physical symptoms, maybe released and a new perspective can emerge enabling the client to move forward in life.

The state of hypnosis offers a bridge to the unconscious part of our minds where most of our behaviour patterns have been saved. Therefore when we want to make changes in our lives it’s this part of our mind we need to be working with. The conscious part of the mind accounts for just 10% of our capacity so when working with hypnotherapy we are able to work with the strength of the 90% of our mind supporting us towards our goals.

Nicola Schramm is an associate of Clinical Hypnotherapy Wales, who are a main body for hypnotherapy training for health care professionals.

Hypnotherapy can help with: Emotional issues, stress reduction and anxiety, phobias, pain management, weight management, smoking cessation.

STRESS: The underlying cause of many health problems

by Jeff Cross LicAc MBAcC

For the first time the stress modern living has resulted in mental problems overtaking physical ailments as the chief cause of long-term illness in Britain.

Half the people questioned recently for the Relaxation for Living Institute said they struggle to sleep, while the same proportion have headaches or migraines, a quarter have digestive problems and almost a fifth admit to suffering panic attacks.

Long term stress can be the root cause of many health problems:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Sleeping Disorders
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack

Acupuncture treats both the illness and the root cause of the illness – STRESS

If you would like to know more about the benefits of acupuncture and would like a free 10 minute initial appointment with Jeff please ring Monmouth Natural Health Centre reception.

Acupuncture recommended for back pain by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence

by Jeff Cross LicAc MBAcC

Patients with persistent low back pain should be offered acupuncture on the NHS, according to guidance recently issued by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

This is exciting news as it is the first time that NICE has explicitly backed the use of complementary therapies.

The guidelines for non-specific low back pain say doctors should no longer offer spinal x-rays, MRI scans or injections of therapeutic substances into the back.

It also recommends ending the use of electrical machines such as TENS units to relieve back pain.

Acupuncture is a comprehensive medical system that can treat a wide range of complaints, including low back pain.

Typically it is possible to treat:

Addictions, angina, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive disorders, circulatory problems, depression, emotional problems, facial paralysis, fibromyalgia, headaches, joint pains, infertility, menopause, menstrual problems, migraines, rheumatism, sciatica, sinusitis, skin conditions, stroke, tiredness.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of acupuncture and would like a free 10 minute initial appointment with Jeff please ring Monmouth Natural Health Centre reception

Standing Tall

There can be many reasons why we do not stand tall. Sometimes it is due to health, energy levels, sometimes self-esteem, and sometimes just habit. Yet how many of us realise the true benefits?

For a start, there are all kinds of ailments, aches and pains, joint issues etc that can be prevented simply through altering our posture so that we are more in alignment and exerting less unnecessary effort. However, this is often more easily said than done.

As we go about our days, we may not even notice how we are carrying ourselves from A to B. It may just happen in a blur, because our minds may be distracted with other things in the past or the future, so that we find it hard to be in the present moment.

I have myself noticed a big difference in how I feel about my day when I pay more attention to how I am doing what I am doing. And in my work teaching the Alexander Technique, I frequently get comments from people during a lesson about how surprisingly different they feel when I’ve helped them to stand taller and stop dropping their heads forward and rounding their shoulders. Not only that but they find that they have gained some height and can even look slimmer!

However, should this really come as a surprise? When we think of an image of a happy, confident person, rarely would we think of a person going about all bent over, but instead someone standing tall, poised and open and receptive to what’s going on around them. Not only is it easier for us to feel good when we are in such a mode of being, but it makes us more able to respond appropriately to the situations we encounter in life and as we interact and express ourselves.

Bel Spencer M.S.T.A.T. Alexander Technique teacher