Valerie's Blog

Help – my device is a pain in the neck!

Valerie helps with neck and shoulder pain.

Valerie helps with neck and shoulder pain.

In the space of 3 days, 3 people reflected to me that they were on their devices so much that they were missing out on connecting with people face to face.

I listened and nodded, knowing from my own experience that the way I use devices can lead to grouchiness, tension or pain – or NOT!

Want to prevent device tension from taking over?

  1. BREATHE! In hurrying to meet deadlines (others or our own), breathing can become shallow or held. No wonder feelings of frustration and pressure can grow.
  2. TAKE NOTICE of how you are. Will the world end if you slow down even a little? Are you hunched? straining eyes? frowning?
  3. Take a STANDING BREAK. A break from sitting, such as standing and stretching and/or moving my laptop to a shelf where I can use it as a standing desk
  4. Take an EYE BREAK. If you can already or can learn to – type by touch and look at something further up in the room from time to time. This can ensure that the heavy weight of your head protruding or leaning forward of your lap top is not a strain on your upper back, neck and shoulders.  LOOK TO THE HORIZON.  Standing at the window and gazing at things at different distances, moving eyes left and right, letting go of a stare or narrow focus, softening the gaze and opening up the periphery are choices that can reduce headaches and prevent eyestrain.
  5. Get MOVING. – a short walk (even down the hall to get a drink of water – also good for you in every way) or a little dance can bring not only physical relief, but a fresh approach to what might otherwise seem like a very difficult task.

Take care of your precious physical self. It’s one of the best ways you can improve your odds of a happy life now and in your maturity.

I love helping you to move easily and effectively and pleasurably.  (What a great job! Seeing these changes in my clients!) Give me a call if you’d like to learn more about how working with me can help. There’s never been a better time to improve your self-care and your well-being.

Doing The BOUNCE – 2 minute revitaliser

This simple movement I learned from Trainer Ruthy Alon is a favourite of mine. Taking some time out in the morning and in the middle of my day to enjoy pleasurable movements helps me to re-energise and re-focus.

1) Stand with feet comfortably spread (not wide, not one against the other).

2) If your knees are locked, release them.

3) Bring your weight to the balls of both feet.

4) Drop your weight onto the whole foot.

5) Repeat the steps above, bouncing on the heels once, so that you make the rhythm pom pom with your feet.

6)  Smile!

To add to the fun, you can vocalize and listen to the way your voice responds to the movement of your body!

If you start the above sequence in a slouch, you’ll soon be standing taller, as your body balances and comes into better alignment naturally.

If you want more improvement, give me a call and have a chat. I’ll be glad to hear what you’re looking for or answer your questions about how I can help.

(Here’s an introduction to Ruthy.  She was 63 when she made this video)

Eating and Procrastination . . .

Another invitation to a Christmas gathering arrived . . . Royal High Tea ($27). I treasure my membership in this group of colleagues, but I tell you – I experienced this invitation as less than supportive of my intention to achieve a healthier weight! What say I don’t feel like eating 9 little things with my cup of tea? I felt disgruntled, and put off my reply.

Earlier the same day I was heading back to the fridge for a piece of cheese leftover from a seasonal event . . . when I noticed I wasn’t hungry. While planning my “Joy of Eating” workshop, I’ve had plenty of time to think about what makes eating truly satisfying. Eating when not hungry is not one of those things!
Eating mandarin

My inner monologue (leaving out some of the self accusation and blame) went something like this:

“Ugh . . . there I go again . . . What’s this eating about? What was I doing just before I went to the fridge. (this took some time to answer) I was ruminating over some things I’d promised myself to do for my business. Perhaps the eating was a way to soothe myself? To just procrastinate a difficult email or phone call? How fascinating! How can I forgive myself? How would I like to be with myself around this? What shall I do instead . . . ?”

I’ve noticed other ways of eating that don’t satisfy me, too.  In September, I noticed that at social occasions, I sometimes use eating as a way to avoid initiating conversation – and by doing so, delay the satisfaction of feeling connected. In October, I noticed that I wanted to make sure I got my share, or more than my share of the “special” foods – whatever I deemed them to be. Memories flooded back of my sister and brothers and the competitive way we counted olive stones. I’ve decided that it’s okay if somebody else gets more than I. In November, I noticed that I’d given myself the job of “cleaning up” by eating up the broken crackers, as if broken crackers don’t count . . . even when I’m full.

What brings me satisfaction? Sometimes it’s doing that thing I’ve been putting off.  Sometimes it’s starting a conversation . . . or writing a blog or newsletter! Sometimes it’s picking food from the garden and preparing it myself. Sometimes it’s the way I savour the food in my mouth.

Ruthy Alon, one of my trainers shared with me a simple piece of advice which resulted in me losing 3 kg in a month without restricting my diet.  While weight loss is not the aim of my session, I’ll be happy to share this advice with you as part of the upcoming JOY of EATING experience.

To have a new experiences of reflection, satisfaction and joy while eating . . . why not join me for “the Joy of Eating” Dec 8 or Dec 10?

And now . . . to answer my invitation to the Royal High Tea . . .

Exploring my slump . . .

Reading a book the other day, I noticed my eyes had scanned several lines without taking in content.  Was I uninterested, tired, or something else?  My curiosity got the better of me, and I began to apply some Feldenkrais strategies to observe my posture and then change the situation.

Here’s a basic exploration such as the one I did, which you might try to effect your sitting posture, comfort and alertness.  I put down my book to do it:)

1) Notice, are you slumping? twisted? something else?  How are you breathing?  What shape is your chest?

2) What if you do a little bit more of it on purpose? Is it more or less comfortable?

3) How can you apply the least movement that brings improvement?  Why not a bigger “correction”.  Because when we use a bigger muscular effort to improve our posture, we tire, and may collapse back into our default pattern.  Using easy movements to improve, means we are more able to sustain the improvement.  Undo any spinal curl a bit – not by putting your shoulders back, but by uncurling the whole spine and feel the change in your rib cage.  Pause.

4) Can your pelvis be part of the solution?  Just stop for a moment now and ask yourself, what part of your pelvis is on the seat you are resting on?  Place your hands under your pelvic bones or “sit bones” and rock a little forward and back.  Are you sitting behind or in front of the place where you can feel the bones easiest?

Slump a little again (or your version of the challenging posture), and notice, what your pelvis does? If you’re slumping it probably rolls back, your tailbone coming a little nearer the seat.  When you “unslump” can your pelvis roll forward a little?  Yes? How can you apply the least movement here to bring improvement? Explore a little more in a small comfortable range.  Rest.

5) How are you sitting now?  How are you breathing?  Refreshed?  What do you want to do now?  Return to your task, rest, or move on to something new?

There are many mini moves like this one that can improve sitting comfort.  Coming for an intro session, a set of individual hands on lessons, or attending classes is a great way to learn them.  If you want to see if working with me is right for you, why not give me a ring.  I’ll be happy to hear about your situation and see if I can help.

Can you learn Feldenkrais “On Your Own?

While attending class or doing for private work is my favourite way of learning to move and feel better – it’s possible to learn and revise on your own.  Here are some resources  . . . has slots Feldenkrais related video clips. Check out Ruthy Alon’s “Movement Nature Meant”
You might also enjoy Oli Wiles demo of a “Freeing Your Neck” lesson

To Sign up for a free audio lesson each month with Trainer Alan Questel, by audio podcast visit    www.uncommonsensing


FIG Feldenkrais Interest Group Library – large membership library

$20 annual membership, access to materials including many of those listed below, plus LOTS of wonderful audio lessons.



Alon, Ruthy. Mindful Spontaneity

Feldenkrais, Moshe. Awareness Through Movement and 8 other titles

Fraser, Alan. The Craft of Piano Playing and two other titles

Nelson, Samuel H and Elizaeth Blades-Zeller. Singing with the Whole Self: The Feldenkrais Method and Voice  

Plonka, Lavinia. Walking Your Talk: Changing your Life through the Magic of Body Language

Shafarman, Steven. Awareness Heals. (available FIG and public Library)

Wildman, Frank. The Busy Person’s Guide to Easier Movement: 50 ways to achieve a healthy, happy, pain-free and intelligent body.

Take Care and Move in Comfort,

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