When I first started learning the Alexander Technique I was dealing with chronic neck tension and pain. Constructive Rest became a lifeline for me—something I could do for myself each day that helped me start reversing the downward spiral into tension and pain I’d been in for a long time. It was also something I could do for myself long before I had enough skill with the Alexander Technique to perform any of my daily activities without the excess tension that felt so normal to me.
Even though I don’t “need” Constructive Rest in the way I did 13 years ago, I continue to practice on a daily basis. It’s become an important part of my own self-care, and even five minutes in Constructive Rest can make a world of difference on a busy day. I find it incredibly helpful to me in so many ways and now see it as an indispensible part of my life.
I also encourage all my students to do Constructive Rest every day. Those who make it a regular practice tend to get the greatest relief from any tension or pain issues they may have. They also tend to make the quickest progress in learning the Technique in general.
I strongly believe, however, that lying down in Constructive Rest can help almost anyone. You don’t have to have any experience with the Alexander Technique for it to help you function and feel better. I also believe that a daily practice is by far the most helpful. The benefits are felt not only on the day itself, but are cumulative.
In Thinking Aloud, Walter Carrington (who was a renowned Alexander Technique teacher and teacher trainer) tells the story of a man with terrible back pain. A friend (a student of Carrington’s) described the Constructive Rest position to him and told him to do it everyday. Nothing more. The student saw his friend again three months later, recovered and transformed. It turns out he had done Constructive Rest for an hour each morning and evening (much longer than we normally advocate) every day since his friend first advised him!*
As Carrington says, “It’s so difficult for people to believe that just lying down like that and doing nothing will bring about these changes. But it will….”*
Back and neck pain are by no means the only things that Constructive Rest will help. Here are a few other reasons you might consider making it part of your daily routine:
- it helps us improve our posture naturally and without strain
- we get a much-needed “time out” from today’s multi-tasking, ultra-stimulating life-style
- we give our muscles the chance to release unwanted tension
- our breathing becomes naturally calmer and deeper
- our spine gets the chance to decompress
- it’s calming to the nervous system
- mind and the body have time to quiet allowing us to think more clearly
- our digestive system is given the space to release and do its work more efficiently
- our energy and productivity improves during the rest of the day
And I’m sure there are many more!
I’m so convinced of the benefits of a daily Constructive Rest practice that I’m sponsoring a 30-Day Constructive Rest Challenge. I invite you to join in by signing up to receive daily email reminders, resources and inspiration from me to encourage you to make it part of your day. To coincide with the launch of this initiative, during November I’ll also be running the Challenge on the Body Intelligence Facebook page, where I’ll post reminders, resources, photos and other sources of inspiration, which I’ve collected from Alexander Technique teachers and students around the world. Below you can see some pictures from the first Facebook challenge I held in February 2013:
You can start you own 30 Days of Constructive Rest any time, by signing up for my emails using the form below. If you’d like to follow along simultaneously on my Facebook page, sign up on October 31, 2014 and you’ll be all set to start November 1.
And finally, if you’re already a fan of Constructive Rest, I’m collecting testimonials to the power of this simple practice. If you have one you’d like to share on the benefits it’s brought to your life, please use the comments box at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, if you have any questions about Constructive Rest, please feel free to ask.
I hope you will take the 30-Day Constructive Rest Challenge, and experience the benefits of this simple, yet powerful, practice in your life too!
* Walter Carrington, Thinking Aloud (Mornum Time Press, 2002), 51-52.