I’ve written many times about the benefits of lying down in Constructive Rest. It’s a fabulous way for anyone to relieve stress, including women in business. It’s a simple tool to help us be on top of our game, mentally and physically, giving us time to regroup, space to think creatively, and be at our best.
And if you suffer from back pain,1 Constructive Rest offers a simple self-help practice that is empowering!*
When we suffer, our business suffers – our ability to problem-solve diminishes, our productivity goes down, and joy is sucked out of us. Lying down – constructively – on the job, can literally help turn that around.
Unfortunately, for some people with back pain, depending on the severity or particular type of pain, the standard Constructive Rest position, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, can be uncomfortable or even painful, especially when you’re new to the practice.
Luckily there are some very helpful variations that are great alternatives for people with back pain or hip problems, or anyone who would just like to rest their legs completely.
In this position the legs are draped over a bolster, pillows or cushions, so they are fully supported, yet the knees are still elevated easing pressure on the lower spine.
This time the lower legs rest on a low piece of furniture (ideally probably something slightly lower than this chair – maybe over sofa or ottoman). This really eases pressure on the lower back, and I’ve found that my students with sciatica often find this particularly helpful.
The Importance of Elevating the Head:
It is very important that your head is elevated. Use something fairly firm, like a couple of books or a folded up towel. The support under the back of the head, not the neck, stops the head falling back and compressing the neck. Instead, a lengthening and ease in the neck is invited, which has a positive knock-on effect throughout the spine.
Whatever position you choose to lie in, give yourself about 10-20 minutes if possible, as long as you are comfortable. However even five minutes will be beneficial and is well worth it.
I recommend starting your lie down by becoming aware of the support of the ground beneath you and noticing those parts of you that are making contact. Constructive Rest is a conscious process where you guide your thoughts positively to encourage expansion, release of tension and ease of breath (though, to be honest, if you do fall asleep as you relax in these positions you will still be greatly benefiting your back).
To get an idea of how to think constructively you can listen to this audio, which I recorded several years ago now, in which I guide your thinking while you are lying down:
I’ve since recorded an updated and extended Constructive Rest Audio, which is accompanied by a written guide, you can purchase.
For Severe Pain:
If you’re in a situation where your pain is so severe that none of these positions is comfortable,* you can still use some conscious thinking to help you. Lie down in a way that is most supportive to you – in bed, on your side, or on a recliner for instance. As you do so listen to this very gentle audio that accompanies Carolyn Nicholl’s book, Body, Breath & Being: A New Guide to the Alexander Technique:
Whether you suffer from back pain or not, Constructive Rest is a hugely beneficial practice. I do hope you will try it, in whatever position is best for you! Studying the Alexander Technique can provide tremendous relief for back pain, but lying down every day in Constructive Rest is something you can do for yourself right now! Your back, and your business, will thank you!
I’d love to hear what you think! And do you have any other self-help techniques that work for you? Let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page (yes, they’re finally working again!).
1) Apparently 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time: https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics
* None of these ideas are meant as a replacement for medical care.
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