The Alexander Technique
I was trained as a teacher of Alexander Technique by the late Stephen Cooper, whose emphasis on applying the clear principles elucidated by F.M. Alexander was second to none. Stephen was trained by Peter Scott and by F.M’s niece, the wonderful Marjorie Barlow. I bring the full spectrum of my training and experience in all disciplines to each lesson I teach, while remaining clear and explicit about what precisely the AT is and adhering to its principles. I believe that optimal efficiency in singing, speaking, breathing, in all movements and all activities is in complete harmony with the Technique and its practice, and I have only ever found benefit from placing them together.
As a teacher I seek to lead or suggest, and never to impose. One attribute of the Alexander Technique is that it brings change at a pace which the student’s organism is ready and able to assimilate, never faster. This gentleness allows for steady and lasting change, rather than swerving repeatedly between over-insistence and backlash. Best results when learning a skill come from affirming and building on what is already positive, not from criticism or from triggering a student’s fears or defences.
HOw Alexander Technique works
The Alexander Technique (AT) is a skill for self-development that teaches us to change the long-standing and generally unconscious habits which cause unnecessary tension in everything we do. Improved health, better performance and significantly reduced pain and fatigue are widely reported.
Clear and practical principles enable us to bring improved awareness to any activity we undertake (including yoga!), and relieve the stress and damage caused by our unconscious postural or reaction-based habits. AT teaches us a skilful ‘use of the self’: this means, the way we use ourselves (mind and body together) when moving, resting, breathing, organising our awareness and focus of attention and, above all, choosing our reactions to increasingly demanding situations and activities.
We learn to become aware of, and then gradually to strip away, the habits of movement, tension and reaction that interfere with natural and healthy coordination and optimal, effortless balance.
The alexander technique and back pain
A major randomised trial published in the BMJ in 2008 found that a course of AT lessons could reduce episodes of back pain from 21 days in the month to just three days. Unlike any of the other treatments in the trial, the effectiveness of the lessons continued 12-months after the trial and beyond. The AT offers us tools for better back health right through into old age.
Working with me
Like all classically trained teachers of AT, I teach using a combination of spoken words with gentle hands-on guidance for movement.
Every student who comes to work with me is treated as an individual. I strive not to make assumptions. There is no ‘method’, no one-size-fits-all. You will be listened to, and as I teach I am constantly and inwardly re-evaluating your change and progress.
My goal is to teach each individual to create the conditions for ease, health and optimal functioning within themselves. Each person has their own goals and hopes: one of mine is to reduce your need of me by increasing your own skill in living.
We are working to improve self-awareness in movement and thought, and to reduce the burden of unconscious habits and habitual reactions. Our habits will only yield to change when attended to quite frequently. After an initial consultation I therefore recommend an initial block of at least six lessons taken fairly close together, to create some impetus for improvement and create a foundation for your new skills.