What is the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique is a skill that is learnt in one to one lessons or group classes. You are guided by the Alexander Teacher to become aware of postural and movement habits that create strain and imbalance in your body and mind. You learn to react and move with less tension. You consciously become more co-ordinated and poised, by working with both your body and mind in unison. This can bring about profound, lasting, positive changes to painful conditions such as back and neck pain, RSI, tension headaches etc. You regain the ability to fully relax and enhance energy. Simply put, the Alexander Technique teaches you not to compress your joints or stress yourself as you cope with the challenges of your life.

What does the Alexander Technique help?

The Alexander Technique helps people with the following:

  • Tension, pain or stiffness in muscles or joints, e.g. back, neck and shoulder pain
  • R.S.I. symptoms, poor posture, anxiety and stress-related problems
  • Breathing and vocal difficulties
  • Parkinson’s disease, arthritis
  • During and after pregnancy

You can improve performance and prevent injury in sport, music and drama; enhance business and presentation skills; be alert and focussed with less strain; ensure that everyday activities are done with least tension e.g. working at a computer, lifting and carrying children, digging, walking, running etc. It is a great method for personal development, creating self-awareness and improved general well being.

How do I learn the Alexander Technique?

You can learn the Technique with a qualified teacher in the following ways:

One to one Private Lessons: Initial Consultation: 1 hour. Subsequent lessons: 45 minutes. One to one lessons provide an ideal opportunity for your individual needs to be addressed. You will learn to recognise and change particular habits that cause you tension and pain.

Shared lessons: (1 hour) where each participant gets individual attention, then they work together. Both learn from seeing each other being taught, and can practice with and encourage each other in between lessons.

Group Classes and Workshops: These give a good overview of how the Alexander Technique can be applied to particular activities. Though there is very little one-to-one work from the teacher, the group take part in enjoyable games and demonstrations to highlight how the Technique can be applied. The group works together, learning from each other, and in discussions led by the teacher. Classes and Workshops are themed to suit particular activities e.g. Alexander Technique for Gardeners. I also run more general classes that show how Alexander Technique can be applied to more general everyday activities. (Maximum Group size 12)

What happens in a lesson?

The teacher uses gentle hands-on guidance and verbal explanation to help you to recognise and release unnecessary tension. You will be taught to find ease and balance within yourself in simple movements, e.g. sitting, standing, walking or bending, and in specific activities that you may wish to explore e.g. playing an instrument, working at the computer, playing a sport etc. Part of a lesson may include lying on a table. This allows for maximum support and relief for the back, while the teacher uses gentle manipulation to help release tight connective tissue and joints.

What sort of equipment is needed and what do I need to wear?

No special equipment is required – just wear loose, comfortable, everyday clothes. You will be asked to remove your shoes, so clean socks are necessary. Part of the lesson may involve lying on a treatment table, so women may find it more comfortable to wear trousers rather than a skirt.

How many lessons do I need?

The number of lessons will depend on your particular needs and goals and these can be discussed by contacting me. I usually suggest that people come for an Initial Consultation to get a sense of what the Technique involves. If they want to take up the Technique, I recommend that they come for a block of three to six lessons. After this we review progress and decide where to go from there. Learning the Alexander Technique involves changing long standing habits, so improvement relies in part, on your active participation. You learn to apply these changes to your everyday life whether at work, rest or play.

Recent Clinical Research:  British Medical Journal, Aug. 2008:  ‘Lessons in the Alexander Technique have long term benefits for chronic back pain’

To find out more, go to the website of the Alexander Technique: www.stat.org.uk

Many famous women use the Alexander Technique:

Dame Joan Bakewell, Victoria Beckham, Dame Judi Dench, Lulu, Joanna Lumley, Madonna, Sinead O’ Conner, Vanessa Redgrave, Jennifer Saunders, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Ruby Wax, Oprah Winfrey.

What people say:

The Alexander Technique helped me deal with stress, and my headaches have stopped. – C.T.

I no longer suffer debilitating neck and shoulder pain when working at the computer. My energy levels have improved greatly. – L.H.

I sleep better, and feel calmer and more in control of my life. – R.B.

Working in the garden is a pleasure now. My backache has gone because I’ve learned how to look after it when digging and barrowing. – M.C.

Quotes from the stars:

I find the Alexander Technique very helpful in my work. Things happen without you trying; they get to be light and relaxed. You must get an Alexander teacher to show it to you. – John Cleese, actor

It has helped me to undo knots, unblock energy and deal with almost paralysing stage fright. – William Hurt, actor

The Alexander Technique can be sustaining; it is something that if learned well, can be carried along with you for the rest of your life. It gives you confidence to be who you are when you are up in front of an audience. – Patrick Maddams, Managing Director, Royal Academy of Music

My times became faster as I looked at the readouts on my displays while training using the Alexander Technique. It was a real boost to my mental training to have the Alexander Technique in my back pocket when I placed ninth in the 1999 Canadian women’s Open Lightweight Erging Championships and when I rowed in the Masters Nationals (5 gold) and World Lightweight Championships (2 gold) and the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta (1 gold). I was thrilled with my placings in these events and I can definitely say without hesitation that I wouldn’t have had the rowing success that I have had the luxury of experiencing in my short time on the water without finding the Alexander Technique and the great teachers that I have had the privilege to work with. – Valerie Thompson Williams, Rowing masters gold medallist

Alexander Technique helped a long standing back problem and to get a good night’s sleep after many years of tossing and turning. – Paul Newman, actor

The Alexander Technique makes a real difference to my often tense and busy life. Its thoughtful approach has made me calmer, improved my concentration and given me a clearer sense of my own well being. I am grateful for it. – Dame Joan Bakewell