FM Alexander simply called it The Work. His students called it the Alexander Technique–a way of recognizing, restoring and developing our natural functioning through very fundamental principles of change and awareness. What you learn in lessons you can bring to all you do.
The Alexander Technique helps you help yourself:
- Change patterns that cause pain and stress
- Increase body awareness and your foundational relationship to gravity and the environment.
- Explore and restore natural, whole body breathing.
- Find greater ease of movement in sitting, standing, twisting, bending, walking, typing, playing the violin, throwing a baseball, carrying a baby, in all the activities of life
- Soothe and heal your nervous system
- Enhance your singing and speaking voice.
As you move and breathe with more ease, many good things happen. Pain decreases, performance improves, confidence goes up and there is much more energy available for healing, enjoying life and pursuing your goals.
Clinical studies show that practicing the Technique improves posture, flexibility, breathing capacity and provides long-term relief from stress disorders and chronic pain–especially back pain. (Please see resources for more information and doctor testimonials.)
Transform Pain and Stress
The Technique benefits people suffering from:
* Neuromuscular Pains or dysfunctions of all kinds
* Chronic Back Pain & TMJ
* Repetitive Stress Injuries
It also aids recovery and limits the long-term impact of injuries, accidents and surgeries. It has been an effective self-care resource for people working with post traumatic stress.
Improve Performance & Prevent Injury
- Actors, Dancers, Musicians, Vocalists & Public Speakers. The AT is taught in conservatories and performing arts academies, such as the Juilliard and Royal Academy of Music, throughout the world. It helps develop expressive capacities, prevent injury and overcome anxiety
- Office Workers & Computer Users. Prevent and reverse repetitive strain. Ease your eyes. Learn how to sit and work at the computer with more ease.
- Laborers, Gardeners & Craftspeople. Discover how free and open joints, and a long neck and spine, improves coordination, prevents injury, and increases stamina.
- Athletes. Explore oppositional forces for power and agility, undo fear reflexes and stress, decrease recovery times. The AT is an integrated hands-on guided study of the principles often taught by coaches but near impossible to transmit only in words or through imitation.
- Meditators. Learn to free the spine and hips rather than using tension to maintain the posture. Gain confidence working with the incredible kinesthetic sense.
- Yogis & Martial Artists. Refine, renew and deepen your practice. Explore the art of un-doing and direction within an asana or movement sequence. Prevent injuries.
The Alexander Technique soothes the nervous system. It has helped people with depression or other mental/emotional imbalances. As people find mind-body integration, their hearts often benefit greatly. (Please see resources for more resources.)
“Train the movement not the muscle”
Standard lessons are 50 minutes. Please allow an hour. I have also developed extended 80 minute sessions that include customized exercise programs, integrating the Alexander Technique principles with chi kung, strength and fitness programs and the wealth of movement remedies from the field of somatics. Click here to schedule.
Lessons combine movement analysis, table work and guided hands on and verbal instruction with specific movement practices. These might be from the basic activities of daily life such as sitting, standing, twisting, lifting and walking to very specific needs you wish to explore. For instance, we may work together on your running form, your computing, guitar playing, yoga, specialized labor related movements, gardening or martial arts. Bring your questions and interests!
I help you break the movement down and notice the whole body pattern taking place. Then we work together to establish the most connected, efficient, enjoyable pattern possible.
My role is to facilitate your awareness and ability to choose new patterns. Clients often report both how unfamiliar and more connected they find these new ways of using and thinking about their bodies. Through exploring the unfamiliar, your nervous system is training new patterns. Your homework is to explore these new patterns in your daily life and let them grow. This learning process becomes an ongoing and rich experience that can impact all parts of your life. This is the essence of Alexander’s work.
All the while, we are cultivating the three main truly universal themes at the root of the Alexander Technique. These are awareness, non-doing (or inhibition) and direction.
During our work together, I’ll provide you with written resources to support what we are working on in person.
Is the Alexander Technique like a massage or physical therapy?
The Alexander Technique is not a massage or physical therapy. It is an educational process designed to help you learn how to move more efficiently and enjoyably. It is not a therapy to address specific symptoms. Symptoms do get addressed as your overall coordination improves. The touch in AT lessons is not a massage. My hands guide your body into new coordination and invite the conscious release of extra tension.
Personally speaking, as a Thai Massage and Chi Nei Tsang Practitioner, the AT is unique in that it addresses my overall coordination in whatever activities I am doing. It is something I can practice anytime, any place–I practice it while I give massages in order to prevent repetitive stress or back injuries and to maximize my ease of movement and quality of touch. The AT is a lesson designed to help you take care of yourself. That said, there are therapeutic benefits, often quite profound, to these lessons but they are secondary to the educational, longterm purpose.
Is the Alexander Technique like Yoga, T’ai Chi, or Feldenkrais?
The Alexander Technique is not a set of exercises or movements. It is the conscious application of universal principles of mind-body integration to everyday and special activities. Practicing the Alexander Technique is completely compatible with your yoga, T’ai Chi and Feldenkrais. It can enhance and reveal new layers to these practices.
How many lessons should I take? How long does it take to get results?
This will depend on your interests, needs and goals. You may study the technique for a lesson, a course of lessons or you may find yourself coming back to it for many years with fresh discoveries and questions. The main aim is to support your ability to work on yourself and bring your new skills to life outside of lessons. I work with clients to develop customized programs that meet your needs and goals.
Is it painful? Are there any contraindications?
The AT is never painful. Sometimes, when we release long held contractions we actually begin to feel areas that have been out of our consciousness for a long time. Some of our muscles will start working more, others less or differently as our coordination improves. This can bring some soreness or a short period of clearing stagnation from our muscles. In my experience, this always passes quickly and can have with it a not unpleasant sense of waking up our bodies. Generally the Technique brings about a heightened sense of lightness, ease and integration. There are no contraindications for the Technique. It is useful however to share with your practitioner any injuries, surgeries or other limiting factors influencing how you move.
What do I wear?
Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that you can move in easily.
Who was this Alexander guy?
Frederick Mathias Alexander was a Tazmanian born actor who lost his voice during recitals in the 1890s. With no improvement from the treatment options of his day, he asked himself, “What am I doing that is causing me to lose my voice?” With his livelihood on the line, he set about months of self study, gradually making and applying the discoveries that became known as the Alexander Technique. He regained full use of his voice, recovered from many maladies of his youth and, when others recognized the changes, was asked to share his discoveries. At this point, he developed hands-on techniques for transmitting the principles of his work and guiding pupils into better use of themselves. These hands-on skills are trademarks of Alexander teachers working today. Eventually, Alexander went to London and became known as “Dr. Breath” for his work with actors on the London Stage. He wrote several books, the best known of which is The Use of the Self, and his work was recognized by many luminaries of the day, from Aldous Huxley to John Dewey. He started a training program in the 1930s that was the founding program for training centers now existing throughout the world. There are more than 3000 Alexander Technique teachers practicing today. Alexander died in 1955 at the age of 87.
What is unique about working with you?
I had four surgeries by the time I was 21. I know what its like to be in chronic pain and to come out of it. I have a rich employment, athlethic, performance and meditation background so I draw on my diverse experience to connect with the unique needs of everyone of my students.
The principles and practices of the Alexander Technique are the foundation of my practice. But my other practices and ongoing exploration in the dynamic field of somatics inform my work. I bring wisdoms I’ve integrated from chi kung, meditation, other mind-body medicine and the fitness world into my lessons. I love the wisdom inherent in the body. I don’t teach a set Technique as much as bring a toolbox to resolve problems and enliven each students embodied journey.
Finally, I make space in my practice for the emotional aspect of this work, how our movements and postures express our inner life. It takes a clear feeling of safety and support sometimes for us to change. Once we have this, we become free to explore new possibilities and gain courage as we face habits that may not be serving us the way we wish.
British Medical Journal study finding 86% reduction in back pain after 24 Alexander Technique Lessons. Six lessons also extremely effective. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/aug19_2/a884
This is the home site for AmSAT, the American Society for the Alexander Technique. You’ll find a lot of information about the technique and roster of practitioners.
This is the home of the Alexander Education Center in Berkeley, a training program for students interested in becoming teachers.
These three books offer excellent introductions to the Alexander Technique.
The Alexander Technique: A Skill for Life, by Pedro de Alcantara
Body Learning, by Michael Gelb
Use of the Self, by F.M. Alexander. Alexander’s best known work.