How can Alexander Technique help?
I'm an Alexander Technique teacher based in south Bristol, in easy reach of Bristol Temple Meads station. People turn to Alexander Technique for a variety of reasons: to help relieve musculoskeletal pain, to improve vocal or physical performance, for better posture, movement and coordination and to feel more relaxed, balanced and alert in daily life.
Paul Newman, Hollywood actor, took lessons in the technique and this is what he said about it:
Another famous actor, Alec McCowen CBE also found Alexander lessons beneficial and said,
What does the technique help with ?
The technique can help to reduce or eliminate chronic, non-specific musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck, joint pain, RSI, migraine and stress related conditions. It teaches you how to maintain poise and composure during times of duress : in pregnancy for example, when performing a task such as public speaking, singing, playing a musical instrument or playing sport. In fact the technique is useful for any activity we do. For example, sitting for long periods at the computer can become uncomfortable and make us hunch over, cross our legs, or tense up. This can be exhausting and potentially harmful when repeated on a daily basis. With the Alexander Technique you can learn to improve the way you move, sit and work to make yourself more balanced, poised and comfortable in daily life. If you would like to read about some case studies please go to my Links page.
What benefits can be expected?
Anyone can benefit from Alexander Technique lessons, no matter what age you are or fitness level you have. There is nothing strenuous about learning Alexander Technique. It is not a physical exercise regime. Instead through guidance, observation and participation you learn how to change unhelpful habits of movement which cause unnecessary tension, stress or pain . With the help of your teacher's skilled and gentle touch and verbal guidance you learn to use every part of yourself -mind and body- to work together in a unified way. Poise, vitality and co-ordination all improve and movement becomes lighter, easier and more enjoyable. Essentially you learn how to make less effort and loosen the grip of habit.
About the Alexander Technique Professor Tinbergen, who won the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine in 1973, said:
Professor Nicholaas Tinbergen, Nobel Prize winner for medicine and physiology
Is there any evidence it works?
There is considerable growing medical and scientific evidence that learning the technique helps you to address the underlying causes of functional problems such as back pain, neck pain and discomfort caused by tension. The main conclusion of a randomised controlled trial of Alexander lessons published in the British Medical Journal 20th August 2008 was that individual lessons in the Technique have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain :
British Medical Journal
What Happens In a Lesson?
The most effective way to learn the Alexander Technique is by having a course of individual lessons. In the lesson you work one to one with your teacher for 45 minutes on simple activities such as sitting, rising from a chair, standing, reaching, lifting, bending, walking and lying down (things you do all day every day). With the help of your teacher's gentle, informing touch and simple verbal instruction, you learn to recognise and undo unhelpful patterns of tension in your movement and balance to restore tone, alignment and balance to your body. Improvement relies in part on your active participation in this process. As you continue to have lessons you may want to explore how the technique can enhance your performance in specialised activities such as running, playing a musical instrument, singing, speaking, gripping an object or typing. You can discuss the activities you want to explore with your teacher.
What to wear for a lesson
Loose clothing is best, especially trousers that aren't restrictive. You will only remove your shoes in a lesson.
How many lessons do I need to have?
Undertaking lessons in the Technique is an investment in your body and mind. 20 lessons with a lesson a week for the first 10 to 12 weeks is recommended to get a good foundation and experience lasting benefit from the technique but people's individual needs can vary. It's best to come and try a lesson first and discuss your progress with your teacher.
What sort of training does an Alexander Teacher receive and are they medically qualified?
I am a certified teaching member of the Society of Teachers of Alexander Technique (www.stat.org.uk) which is the professional body of Alexander Technique teachers. All STAT teachers have trained for 1600 hours over three years and are bound by a code of professional conduct. I trained at the Alexander Technique Studio in London . Please note that Alexander teachers, although highly trained, are not medical practitioners and do not offer a medical diagnosis. The technique does not make claims to cure but it does demonstrate how people can create beneficial conditions for themselves to prevent discomfort and improve performance.
I teach the Alexander Technique in Totterdown, south Bristol and in London. I first heard of the technique when training to be an actor. After trying a few lessons I began to feel less tense and less anxious. A long-standing shoulder pain felt easier and eventually disappeared. I noticed changes for the better in my breathing, speaking, posture and stress levels the longer I continued to have lessons. This led to my decision to train as an Alexander Technique teacher at the Alexander Technique Studio in London in 2005. I hold a qualified teaching certificate from the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (www.stat.org.uk) and have been a teacher of Alexander Technique in London and south Bristol since 2009.
Greg Chappell, Australian test cricketer (1970 - 1984)
Where does Alexander Technique come from?
Starting in Australia, in 1894, an actor named Frederick Mathias Alexander discovered that the
all-over misuse of his mind and body was causing the repeated loss of his voice. He developed a
technique to re-educate and re-organise the way he used himself that proved so successful,
prominent doctors started to send patients to him for all sorts of ailments. Today, many people
come to the Technique for asthma, bad backs, pain in the neck and shoulders, knees, hips, RSI,
tendinitis, loss of motor skills and much more. He went on to practice in London UK and during
the world wars, the U.S.A. His teachers practice around the world with his findings and have set
up training schools in Europe, the U.S. and Japan.