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News, talk, breakfast in association with our seamless connexions with Ireland's number one broadband provider. Many of you listening at home and as we've been discussing throughout today's programme, are feeling the weight of a full year of this pandemic and all the stress and uncertainty and depression that goes with it.


The Irish Society of Alexander Technique. Teachers want to do their part to alleviate as much of that pain and stress as they can by offering free online courses. I am a complete novice when it comes to the Alexander technique, so I'm very much a blank canvas and teacher of that technique, noted. Kelly is on the line now from Limerick.


Good morning, Nigel. Good morning, Jonathan. I have no idea what it is, and I think a lot of people listening will never have heard of it, but I think it's fair to say actors are very familiar with us.


Yes, actors and singers, including pop singers, are very familiar with it because it's a great way of dealing with nerves on stage. And it's just an overall great way of dealing with general tension and stress, and particularly now with all of what we're listening to for Coolpad, we're all feeling it.


So how does it work then? Basically by being aware of what we're doing in particular, you know, the coverage is causing us to pull into ourselves. Everybody's trying to avoid it. It's being like on a crowded train or bus. You don't want to bump into the next person. So with all that pulling in, we're actually restricting our chest and our breathing. And when we do that, that starts to give us a bit of panic. So the Alexander technique is just a really good way of understanding what's happening and consciously releasing it.


So is it down to the breathing then, because when we breathe, as you know, if you're if you're under pressure or you're stressed, like Hollywood taught us nothing, if not that heavy breathing and shallow breathing is a result of the environment around us, is it a way of controlling that breathing so that you tell the rest of your body that it's OK?


Yeah, very much. That is, first of all, thinking. Using using your brain to realise what's actually happening, because sometimes people get caught up in situations and they're not aware of how they're responding. So the first thing is just taking time to to become aware of the fact that you're probably breathing faster than you than you'd like, which is an indication that you're tight in the chest. And then once you're aware of it, you can start to literally speak with your brain and get your brain to let that go now because it's not necessary.


Hmm. And how easy is it to train yourself to do that? Because that sounds like a kind of a subconscious thing that you feel like you've got no control over.


But this technique is telling you that you actually can control it a bit more.


Yes, exactly. The. The first thing that goes when we're when we're under pressure, as you said, is the breath and because breath is really the essence of life, we feel that without realising that that's what's happening and that causes us to get a little bit even more panicky and more shallow breathing. So once you know that that's what's going on, you can just start talking with yourself and just getting yourself to release. And the key thing to do is not take a deep breath, but to exhale.


Because you've already got a fair bit of air in your lungs, so by exhaling, you're making space for fresh air and if you wait and let that come in, then you begin to go back to normal.


You talk about posture as well being important. Now, if you're on stage, you're supposed to stand up straight, put your shoulders back and project your voice, which is easier said than done when the lights are on and everybody's looking at you. How important is posture?


Well, the posture is very important because if you're playing The Hunchback of Notre Dame, then you've really got to figure out how you're going to catch your breath in between the two bits and pieces that you've got to do. But more importantly, when you're sitting at your computer, computers seem to act as head magnets and they slowly draw your head into the screen and you suddenly realise I'm all hunched over. And the first thing that goes isn't so much your posture as your breathing.


And then coming out of that, realising that that's what you're doing, just allowing yourself to lighten up and allow your ribs to open and you'll get back into natural breathing.


How easy is this to do? Because people might be familiar with the concept of yoga and the idea of getting to the point of Zen, whereby you are at one with your surroundings, but a lot of the times is easier said than done. And if you are under pressure from external forces, are you pressing global pandemic?


You know, how quickly can you regulate the breathing? How quickly can you regulate the posture and and generally lift your mood?


Well, once you get into it pretty quickly and you can you can learn if that's why we designed the the 30 minute workshop that teaches you about observing your posture, observing your alignment, seeing the effect that that's having on your breathing, getting back into natural breathing. And we even get people to just simply lay on the floor. Because you're in a neutral position there, there's nothing that your muscles have to do so they can release themselves. When we're sitting in the car, for instance, you know, you're under pressure of driving safely, but the seat in the car is such that your back is going back because the the seat back goes back, the seat itself is tilted back.


So you're actually lying back in space, but you've got to pull your head forward to see the road. And all of that is an interference. Yeah, and let's face it, every little thing, I mean, I'm now becoming quite conscious of how I'm sitting here and however pain in my neck, just whatever way I was sitting there for a while.


So all of these things, you start to think about them when you stop and examine it.


A lot of actors use this.


I mean, this is something that has been proven by some of Hollywood's finest that this has helped them on stage. It has helped them deliver better performances and in general relaxed them at a time of high anxiety, isn't it?


Yes. Paul McCartney took lessons, notes John Cleese and many more, whose names have now gone for me. But the really important thing is I've been teaching it out in you well at the Irish World Academy on the performance programmes, and lots of the students are coming up to exams, are feeling the pressure of the exam and do they know the piece or whatever it is they're going to do? And when they do, they're just knowing that everybody is evaluating them.


But if they can change that around to seeing that actually they're here to to move them on in their careers, they don't want them to fail. They all want them to succeed. And they can take that frame of mind, then there are a lot more easy on stage and then with the breathing and the alignment, they lease it.


Well, interesting texts just come in to the newstalk tax line. Can you please ask Niall for advice when I speak in public or I have to give a work presentation to a group I have because of nerves a few times lost control of my breathing and my voice totally goes. I can always feel it coming like a wave of adrenaline in my head that swarms my body and fears like it drains the air out of me. It's really horrible. It does sound horrible.


And what I know I have to speak in front of a group. I worry about it for a week in advance. How do I stop it from happening when I feel it coming on? If I could, it would be incredible. Right. Well, that that actually is an experience I had myself as a kid, I was doing a piece at the field alimony, and I totally tanked it in the middle. And I would not dream of doing public speaking sense.


But the key thing is, first of all, you got to know your material, so you got to know the presentation. And that means you got to rehearse that and have that clear in your head. And then, you know, are you really that frightened or is there a degree of excitement in what you're about to do? Because what you're about to do is share some very valuable and useful information with the team. And seeing it in that context can move it from being an ordeal to, you know, a really good example of leadership.


And that's just shifting it in your own head and making it easier, the course is of their own head. Yeah, they're they're designed to help people who are feeling the pressure at the moment to try this. Again, it's nonmedical. It's not invasive. It's just you regulating your breathing. People can access and they're free, I believe, Nilaa. Then it's a result of a group of teachers coming together. Yes.


We we saw something in the in the papers there where a lot of people were resorting to or having to resort to medication because of the the the effect of covid or the threat of corporate rather. And there there hasn't been the same level of psychological support for people. So we thought this would be a very useful way of giving them something that might just help them get through this. And you can go on to the website. The site. Yes. Yes, sorry.


Yeah, it's Esat ISI, i.e., and I think all the details are there if you want to book into one of these free classes. Nisqually of a teacher of the Alexander Technique of Isao. Thank you very much for joining us. Things you didn't know in life and what makes sense. What do you think about it?