Coughing and the Alexander Technique

cigars-3-593689-mby Barbara Curialle Having spent Thanksgiving week coping with a case of bronchitis, I’ve come away with a few suggestions on dealing with the most irritating (in every sense) part of the problem—the coughing.

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which bring air into, and carbon dioxide away from, the lungs. Among the symptoms are shortness of breath and coughing, the body’s means of getting rid of the excess phlegm that builds up. My loyally end-gaining body kept up the coughing to the point of exhaustion and even sore ribs (specifically, the oblique muscles). Rest, a course of antibiotics, cough medicine (the non-codeine kind), and herbal tea did help, but so did these Alexander tips. It takes some presence of mind to direct in the middle of a coughing fit, but what worked best was, as much as possible, to:

  1. Allow my neck to be free and my head to balance at the top of my spine, my torso to widen and lengthen, and my legs to move away from my torso
  2. Bend at the hips, knees, and ankles to go into monkey
  3. In monkey, put a hand on one leg or on a table or other surface to become almost quadrupedal to support me and absorb the effort of coughing
  4. Use the other arm to cover my nose and mouth
  5. Unbend at the hips, knees, and ankles to return to the upright

Of course, remembering not to DO breathing but to allow the breath to enter my lungs helped me feel at least somewhat less congested, as did a whispered “ah” here and there. I won’t say I remembered to do this every time, but I found that even thinking to direct at various random moments did cheer me up, even if it didn’t cure me.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]BARBARA CURIALLE, a graduate of ACAT, has been a nationally certified Alexander Technique teacher since 2009. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and social science from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Music (piano) from Manhattan School of Music. In 2011, she underwent spinal-fusion surgery and credits the Alexander Technique with a very directed recovery. She maintains a teaching practice on the Upper West Side and feels at her best when applying the Alexander Technique to physical activities such as walking, running, strength training, yoga, and swimming. She can be found at[/author_info] [/author]