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Table work in an Alexander Technique lesson: helping the neck to 'undo', release and lengthen; and letting the back spread onto the table

 

The Alexander Technique is extraordinarily difficult to express fully in words, as it is so dependent on the student's learning through the touch and directives of the teacher's hands.

Sally Swift, 'Centered Riding'

 

 

 


 


Lessons in the Alexander Technique

Because our postural habits are so deeply ingrained, individual lessons involving gentle realignment and a re-education of what feels "right" is essential.

These practical, hands-on sessions give the actual experience of better movement and co-ordination, and teach its application in activity. Pupils also learn a simple constructive resting procedure for tension release and re-alignment.

Although the benefits of the technique become apparent within a few sessions, twenty to thirty lessons can be required for the pupil to be able to access these benefits reliably for themselves. Some people may need ongoing lessons to help them manage chronic pain, while others simply enjoy them as part of their own life-skills agenda.

What will a lesson be like?

The touch used by an Alexander Technique teacher is quite unique. It has the effect of helping you to quieten your nervous system and to 'tune in' to your body so that you can balance and align yourself better, and adjust the levels of tension in your muscles.

Lessons are on a one-to-one basis. A combination of hands-on work and verbal instruction is used as you are guided through a range of everyday activities: standing, bending, sitting and breathing. Pupils also lie on a table and learn to release unconscious muscle tension, while the teacher gently moves your limbs and encourages your neck to release and your back to lengthen and expand.

Initially pupils are often amazed at how they have straightened up and lengthened without any effort on their part!

What can it do for you?

As the lessons progress, you learn to be more poised in all aspects of daily life. You tend to feel lighter, less tense and compressed, and to move more freely, with more ease.

Self-confidence often improves along with an upright, graceful carriage; students tend to look taller, with more open shoulders, and their faces soften as they hold less tension in their necks and backs. Performance anxiety is reduced and stress is less likely to build up. Pain is relieved and fatigue is lessened.

Walking, talking, breathing, eating and digestion, sleeping, playing a musical instrument or a sport, and even just sitting for a long time tend to be easier and work better. One's ability to 'be in the moment' and enjoy life increases too!

How long will it take?

A minimum of 20-30 lessons is recommended to learn the technique properly, although a smaller number can make a difference. Lessons are 30-45 minutes, usually weekly.

A note of caution

The Alexander Technique requires commitment and patience: it takes time to undo habits which have taken a lifetime to build up. Further, (like elastoplast) it only works if you apply it. On the positive side, many students of this work have commented that they no longer feel dependent on someone else to 'fix' them when they are in pain or discomfort: they have a self-help tool which allows them to look after themselves.