One of the newest additions to our ever-evolving Van Ness and Forest Hills Covid-19 business directory is physical therapist Gabrielle Czaja, whose office is in The Saratoga at Connecticut Avenue and Brandywine Street.
Czaja continues to work with clients needing help with sore muscles and joint pain, but her practice has moved online while we’re practicing social distancing. Or, as she prefers to call it, physical distancing.
Czaja is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. We asked her to explain what it is, and what it does.
Ready to Meet the DayIn the midst of tragedy, grief, stress, it is common to check out, or just put our heads down and keep going. This is an understandable default; however, when we do this, we jeopardize our mental, spiritual and physical health. How do we stay open and aware to life-affirming experiences when life seems so fragile and painful?
The Alexander Technique improves the connection between our body and mind, and is a practical tool for living our life especially during these difficult times. With Alexander Technique “lessons” we re-discover natural postural strategies that help us feel strong and fluid, not stiff and held. This is especially beneficial as we grow older.
Being more connected with our body makes it possible, and easier, to attend to what is happening around us and keep ourselves strong and healthy. When we feel more spacious and experience a natural, dynamic postural support, our immune system is at its strongest
In an Alexander Technique lesson, a teacher uses her hands gently and clearly, while guiding a student sitting, standing or in activity, to communicate a better organization of one’s body. Time is also spent in the “lie-down” position, with hands-on from a teacher. A “lie-down” is simply lying on one’s back with our knees bent and our head supported on books. It is in this body shape that we can release unnecessary muscle tension.
What happens over a series of lessons is that our body becomes more upright, less tense and more balanced. Even more importantly, we learn a practical skill that we can apply to sitting at a computer, gardening, exercising, or washing the dishes and cleaning. In between lessons, practicing what we are learning and doing a lie-down augments our learning.
For instance, last Friday morning, one of my students after a “lie-down” session told me, “Now I am ready to meet the day!” Another student wanted to apply Alexander Technique principles to her yoga poses and sitting at her desk. After her lesson, she noticed feeling more integrated between her upper body and lower body, more balanced and more supported.
Even in these days of Covid-19 and the need for physical distancing, it is remarkable what can be accomplished with online interactive Alexander Technique lessons:
- Create the best strategy for your body posture working from home, so you can think more clearly and work more efficiently.
- Decrease pain and stiffness from not moving around as much or, exercising more than you are used to.
- Assess and improve form and technique for safe, injury-free exercise.
- Learn easy stress management technique you can immediately apply.
At the end of a Zoom lesson, a physician responded with: “Thanks. Today’s lesson was very calming in this time of worldwide craziness!”
Whether you want to start your day with calm energy, take a midday break to rejuvenate, or fine-tune your body awareness so that sitting at your computer doesn’t leave you weary and drained, Alexander Technique can help.
For more information, contact Gabrielle Czaja, PT, mATI, mAmSAT, at 202-223-4943 or Gabrielle@GabrielleCzaja.com.