The Alexander technique is a practical study of the nature of reaction – how we do what we do. Through touch and simple everyday movement the Alexander teacher guides the pupil back to their natural poise – away from learned responses of stress, strain or disengagement. This active form of rest allows the mind to settle, pain can subside and our truest self can emerge.
In short, the Alexander Technique is good for the whole person. It honours the inseparable nature of mind and body and gives the pupil a break from what they would normally do; whether it’s tightening up and trying too hard or zoning out and losing focus. Posture realigns, moods improve, and newer healthier norms of mind and body can be established.
Hands on work – the primary delivery of the Alexander condition is through the touch and voice of the teacher. Through simple everyday activity like sitting, standing and moments of stillness, the Alexander Technique is shared and gradually embodied by the pupil.
You are not here to do exercises or to learn to do something right, but to meet a stimulus that puts you wrong, and learn how to deal with it.
Alexander Technique works by addressing the nature of reaction, how we react moment by moment to the stimuli of living, and how painful or unwanted symptoms can sometimes be exacerbated through this reactive quality, particularly if a reaction becomes normalised as a habit.
There’s nothing wrong in having habits; we are all creatures of habit, some of which we deeply rely on to keep us feeling safe, functioning and alive. It is only through addressing our habits of thinking that something can be liberated from within.
The learning in Alexander Technique is experiential, and over time can lead to a lasting shift in our quality of thinking. One becomes more able to meet the dramas, stresses, hurries and worries of life, while maintaining their presence of self; more reliably able to put their best self forward, to be present to their experience, and face life with poise, integrity and bravery. This condition is something we all have within us, and the Alexander Technique teaches that it can be more available than we dare to realise.
Change involves carrying out an activity against the habits of life.
People often come to the Alexander Technique for help with something specific, but many find it helpful in more ways than they initially expect. It is a holistic supplement to your experience of living.
If you have aches or pains, if you’re rushed off your feet, feeling down or under pressure, or if you simply want to improve the way you function in life, the Alexander Technique will help you.
An Alexander Technique lesson consists of a teacher using their hands to move the pupil, while the pupil does as little as possible. The Teacher’s responsibility is to give the pupil the experience of ‘non-reaction’. In this respect a pupil can never ‘get it wrong’ in an alexander lesson, because there is nothing they need to do, and so nothing to fail at. The teacher takes the burden of trying off their shoulders.
The technique becomes learned through the students embodiment of their experience and engagement in lessons, much like any new skill; through repetition of the Alexander condition in stillness and activity.
Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself.
Lessons may include a combination of sitting, standing, walking, talking and lying down on a table – This is at the teachers discretion, however best to help the pupil. Lessons are not intended to be strenuous or painful in any way, but occasionally they can be challenging, as learning something new often is.
The work is close in proximity so personal hygiene is important. Overpowering scents and perfumes are best avoided. Clothing should be comfortable to allow movement. It is best to avoid skirts, dresses and sleeveless tops. Jewellery is fine, although as a precaution, some may need to be removed for the lesson.
One lesson may be enough to sow the seed, but that seed will probably need some nurturing.
Expect the initial commitment of ten lessons to feel a more lasting benefit, and take it from there.
The Alexander Technique is a therapeutic process of embodied learning, as such it takes time and commitment. Through continuing engagement with the technique a person will experience more deepening of their process, so that their Alexander Technique becomes more integrated lesson by lesson, day by day.
A good lesson is like therapy, and good therapy is always a lesson.