All posts by Aidan Treays

7 principles for healthy posture.

 There is a lot of misunderstanding and contradictory knowledge that can be really confusing when it comes to wanting to correct your posture.

These 7 principles can act as a basic underpinning and supportive context in how to implement positive change in your posture.

These are tips that can be useful if you are concerned about how you sit at work or if you are an advanced yoga practitioner wanting to improve your yoga poses.

At the end you’ll find a simple somatic mindfulness exercise to help you put into practice the 7 posture principles.

Gemma Rolfing Blag session one


Posture is never fixed. It’s an alive process.

If you think about it; your body is never still. The breath is in constant motion. As you inhale your lungs expand, the diaphragm descends and your spine gently extends. Your body won’t feel free and open if you think of  posture as being a fixed and unmoving position. This won’t help your body to be healthy and supple. Good posture needs a flow of energy. A healthy stance is where there is potential for movement.



Posture is Functional.

Posture serves a purpose. Good posture lets your body be aware of its surroundings. How you sit, stand and walk is how your body knows where it is in space.

If you get lost in the middle of a new city, you get out the map and figure out where you are. You orient yourself. Good posture is when the body is well oriented.

Good posture is the body making tiny micro-movements, to help you know where you  are in that moment. Poor posture leads to a lack of presence; our relationship with our environment is subtly compromised.



Gravity is your friend.

The primary way that the body orients itself is through establishing a relationship with gravity. Where is the ground, where is my weight?  The reason we rock a baby is to help it feel calm. It feels relaxed when it knows where the ground is. The rocking motion helps it fall into itself, it gives the baby its first feeling of ‘I am here’. So feeling your weight, knowing how to earth your body, is an essential quality of good posture and a calm presence.

When we bring attention to the soles of our feet and let them feel the connection through the skin to the ground this has an enormously calming affect on our nervous system. 



Good posture includes your senses. 

Another way that your body orients itself is through your senses. Your sight and hearing  and sense of smell actually play a part in your posture. Your eyes and ears open upon the field of vision and sound. In other words your senses open you into the space around you. When we get depressed, tired and fed up we tend to limit the way our body opens into space. We are less aware of the space extending all around us. This then gets reflected in our posture, we stoop, our gaze lowers we contract and eventually our whole system becomes compressed. It is our senses that can help us open into space and orient us.

Just by bringing your attention to the wind or sun gently touching your face, by taking the
time to notice the tree tops, your body starts to open and lengthen as you feel the space around you growing in your awareness.



Compression is the enemy of good posture.

When the body gets stressed, through trauma, injury and long term bad habits it gets compressed. Compression comes about when we loose the natural relationship with gravity and space. Tension and stress pull us out of these fundamental relationships. This creates a strain on our tissue. The result is a defensive holding pattern.

Wellness and well being in our body starts to appear when we give the body space. We open and decompress the entire system.



Your ‘body image’ is not your body.

Your ‘body image’ is the picture in your head of how you think your body looks.

‘Body image’ is nearly always negative. ‘My hips are too wide’, ‘my chest is too flat’, ‘my pecs should be bigger’. All these statements that we say to ourselves, create an image of what we THINK we look like. Often the image we hold is in fact distorted, full of self judgement and sadly often shame filled.

The shift towards health happens as you replace your ‘body image’ with the ‘felt sense’ of your body.

Your ‘felt sense’ is the sensory experience that you have of your body. The very sensations that you feel as you get in touch with your body moment to moment.

Getting in touch with your ‘felt sense’ allows you to feel how and where your body is, at this actual moment and can update your ‘body image’ and help it be more real.



Curiosity and exploration always deliver positive results.

Good posture happens in a complex web of relationships through the entire soft tissue of your body. Ideally you want to develop an integrated approach to your body and your posture. The ‘body image ‘ model leads to the ‘fix it’ approach . It makes us feel our body is a problem that needs fixing. The ‘felt sense’ model encourages us to be present to our body just as it is. We then start to explore our sensations. Through this natural curiosity the body learns to orient itself.

The body starts to heal itself when we give it attention.

The exercise below is designed to give the experience of orienting yourself and allow you to get in touch with your ‘felt sense’. You can take anything from 5 to 20 minutes to do this simple somatic meditation. Make sure you won’t be disturbed, so you can really be attentive and not be distracted. You’ll need a flat bottomed chair or stool. Take time to get comfy first. You will need your pelvis, when sitting, to be higher than your knees. If you have very tight hips and/or a lower back issue have the seat higher from the ground, use cushions or a yoga black to add height. Ideally you will be barefoot and wearing comfortable clothes, tight jeans or tight skirts can be tricky. I’d recommend reading the exercise once, then reading it while going through the instructions in your body then closing your eyes and doing it from memory.

Sit on the edge of your seat, so your back is not touching the back of the chair. Bring your thighs parallel so the knees are pointing forward. Ideally be barefoot. Do this part of the exercise with your eyes closed, to encourage proprioception. Take a moment now to feel your feet on the floor, how they receive the weight of your lower leg. Become aware of  your connection to the ground  as the soles of your feet soften and open. Notice how you can feel the ground coming up to meet your foot. These sensations allow your body to feel supported. Exhale deeply and feel your weight falling.
Then bring your attention to your sitting bones. You may want to move the flesh of your buttocks to the side so that you can feel the bones clearly. Do a very small micro movement to shift your weight from the back to the front of the sitting bones. Repeat this and notice how it feels in your pelvic floor . Come to a relaxed position so you are resting just on the front of your sitting bones. If you imagine your pelvis as bowl of water the bowl would be slightly tilted forward so the water gently runs out of the front of the bowl towards your feet. Notice how this helps the pelvic floor feel alive. Deeply exhale so the weight of your upper body can relax over the pelvis. Let tension fall away with every exhale and allow your body to feel its natural relationship with gravity. Feel your body supported by your feet and sitting bones. Relax.
Next bring your attention to the space around you. Do this second part of the exercise with your eyes open to encourage an orientation in space. Notice your field of vision opening to a distant horizon. Inhale and allow the intake of breath to open you into the world. Look at the objects near and far away, and notice the space between you and them. Feel the space. As you look out at the world become aware of your back and that there is an echo of  the space in front of you reflected behind you. Your ears are listening to far away sounds. You notice how the sounds appear and disappear in a field of silence and space. The top of your head aware of the stars way beyond. Let the spatial field open with your senses and in breath, as far as you can.
Notice the subtle micro movements as you shift your attention from feeling supported by gravity, and noticing your feet and pelvis and  then opening your senses to the space around you. Feel the aliveness as your body orients in space  and gravity and allow for subtle/micro shifts in your body position. Allow every cell to respond to the simple shifts in attention as you gently  notice your relationship with gravity, and the limitless field of space. 

Aidan Treays is a certified practitioner of Rolfing® Structural Integration. His background is in Dance and theatre arts. He practices at The Light Centre Belgravia and Monument and ad hoc sessions at Moorgate. He has a home practice in Blackheath SE London. Please feel free to call for support or advice or for a free postural analysis if you are thinking of embarking on the ten session Rolfing® process.

Final Blog from Gemma



And so I’ve come to the end of my Rolfing sessions. Although it’s really not the end. I know this.

Rolfing has enriched my life in so many ways and I know it will continue to do so. What has happened over my course of the 10 sessions has been invaluable. Truly. I hope I can do it justice enough in this final blog.

I have been lifted, I have been grounded, I have felt my body awake, my mind awake. I have cried tears of joy, tears of pain. I have gone through feelings and emotions that I had forgotten were there.

My final few sessions have been some of the most powerful. The recent work Aidan did on my arms for example. I remember the session well from a few weeks ago and left feeling strong and in control…what happened over that next week was empowering. To explain, I have never felt I had the guts or the power to hold my boundary. My forcefield if you will.  After the  session where Aidan worked on my arms I noticed myself annoyed by some people, even friends. I had seen clearer than ever how many feel they can walk over me, take me for granted, ask too much. I was feeling frustrated.

As a result of the work we had done I found the power to say “No!”

Please let me reitterate how hard I find this word in the need to please all. Well not now, I was saying “no, not on, I don’t need this, I wont accept this, I deserve better, I have done enough.” More than ever in my life. And rather than seeing and feeling anger and frustration as a negative…I felt good. For the first time in a long time, if ever…

I found my true core and grit to say “no more” and to know what I deserve, as the woman I am, as the friend I am, as the actress I am, as the Daughter I am, as the sister I am. 

When I went back into the next session, and I explained how I was feeling to Aidan, his smile was one of admiration, even a beam of pride at me…this was what arm work was about and my body had responded. My mind and body were becoming more alive with each session. How wonderful is that? To be 32 years old and to still be learning, to still be growing, to be experiencing more than ever. For me it felt delightful. It felt strong. It felt like I was unlocking my real potential and ideals as a young woman. It was a real and full moment.

The next session we worked on what I can only describe as the form of my body, more work on my sides again but in more detail. This for me is more personal so I will refrain from going too deep into it, only to say I allowed myself to open up to the warmth and love of my being and form.

And so to the end…but the start of an extra special journey. My last session. We reflected on the high points and low points. What I realised was that the low points were anything but…as coming out of them made me stronger. Made me learn more about myself. The period of anxiety and panic attacks I suffered…that made me acknowledge my fears. It made me reflect on past griefs, made me understand myself more. It made me stronger. The way I started to walk taller, to open up, to know my space and to feel the ground beneath me.

My confidence in myself has grown. I am calmer and I am more centered. Many of my close family and friends have commented on the change in me…for good.

The worrying, the fear, the uncertainties of life. I can handle them. Being able to ask myself in times of doubt…’What do I need right now’ and following it up. Allowing myself to stop and breath. How my body and mind has changed and adapted is down to my work with Aidan and his work with me.

It’s one of the dearest partnerships in my life.

I am lucky to have gone through it with such a kind, caring, perseptive, talented, intuative man and friend. I can’t recommend Rolfing with Aidan highly enough. I know whole heartedly that Rolfing will now be part of my life for always and there will be more sessions to come in time. The work continues, the journey carries on. Aidan I can’t thank you enough.

With Love,

Gem x

Introducing Gemma

Gemma Oaten, Rolfing blog

So now I’ve been Rolfed (well, had my first session of ten sessions). Not to be mistaken with the term ROFL… I’m NOT rolling on the floor laughing. I’m talking about a new form of treatment aimed at physical and mental well being. Here is a little exert from the European Rolfing Association website explaining in technical terms…

What is Rolfing?

“It was Dr. Rolf’s theory that the cause of human discomfort, both physical and emotional may lie in our internal connective tissue and the     relationship it has with the earth’s gravitational field.

There is, she argued, an optimal, more natural alignment for each of us – an easier interaction between self and gravity. When through            external factors this alignment is lost, it causes internal stress that can result in real discomfort best diet pills for women. Prevent or correct the misalignment and you may eliminate or limit the stress. This is at the heart of Rolfing.”

 Still not sure? Ok, let’s start at beginning.

My name is Gemma Oaten and I am an actress…you may know me best for my 4 years playing Rachel Breckle in the ITV soap Emmerdale. I trained at Drama Studio London from 2009 – 2010, where upon we had movement classes with a fantastic teacher called Aidan Treays. Now, I was no mover, and certainly no dancer. My co-ordination was a wonder to behold, in that there’s no wonder, I was awful! But Aidan helped change all that, not in that I could all of a sudden tap dance with the best of them, but he taught me to walk tall and to find a confidence and peace with my body, that in many ways changed my life.

To explain, from the age of 10 – 23 years old I had battled fiercely with anorexia, the severity of this illness almost taking my life on many occasions. Thankfully I fought and can say I am now fully recovered and living my life in the way I’d always dreamed. But when I got to drama school, although recovered, I was still so unconfident and unsure of who I was and still felt so disconnected from my body after the years I had abused it.

Aidan helped me find that inner growth I needed and after I graduated I secured the job of my dreams on Emmerdale, but more than that I grew into a positive and confident young woman.

2 years ago I became patron of my parents eating disorder charity SEED (Support and Empathy for Eating Disorders) which was born out of our struggle with the devastating illness and my parents determination to help carers and sufferers and support anyone going through what we did as a family all those years. Cut to last year when Aidan approached me with the idea of Rolfing as he had recently trained and qualified in the technique.

Aidan’s idea was that Rolfing may well help eating disorder sufferers and also those now recovered, like me, in finding a new sense of gravity, space and awareness in our bodies and also bring about an emotional relief as well as physical.

I loved the idea, any form of help in the growing number of eating disorders cases is something I am always on the lookout for, as well as looking at our mind sets, so I decided to try the experience myself. In the blogs to follow I will aim to share my experience of the 10 sessions and hopefully see and feel the proof in Aidan’s idea.

If you think you suffer from an eating disorder, you may want to contact SEED. Here’s the link SEED Eating Disorders Support Service

Maybe you are considering trying a Rolfing Session with Aidan, in London, here’s how to MAKE AN ENQUIRY OR BOOK A SESSION

If you want the list of UK Rolfers, take a look here