Alexander Technique – Frequently asked questions
What is Alexander Technique in a nutshell?
This is like trying to explain the colour ‘red’ to someone who is colour blind. However it has been called ‘Neuromuscular re-education’ or simply learning to use yourself in a more co-ordinated way and with less tension.
What do we aim to achieve?
This depends on the individual and in the AT world we tend to pay more attention to the ‘process’ rather than the ‘end result’ . However I would say that we aim at reducing harmful habits, increasing body awareness and sensory appreciation. Releasing tension – we are not always aware we have tension until we are able to release it. Improvement in breathing, freeing the voice – remember that two thirds of the spine is joined to the ribcage. Reducing stress. Pain management. Improving self image. All in all learning the tools to help oneself.
So how does it work?
Again there is no easy answer but through the verbal instruction and gentle touch of a teacher and through using our minds and bodies together we can work on ourselves as a whole . Most of our habits are unconscious so we need to bring them into our consciousness to change them.
How long are lessons and how many do I need?
Lessons usually take 40-45 minutes. The number of lessons will also depend very much on the individual; are they coming for post operative work or do they just get a little back ache when sitting at a computer all day? Everyone comes for different reasons, from a musician wanting to improve their performance to deep rooted postural difficulties. However a course of 8 lessons will give anyone a good idea of how they can use the AT to help themselves. It can be likened to learning a musical instrument though; do you want to learn chopsticks on the piano or Bach?
Will I be given exercises to do?
The simple answer to this is no. However we do ask all students to remain conscious of what is happening in their lessons and to take 10-20 minutes each day to lie down in semi-supine. This position would be explained in more depth during a lesson.
Can I learn the Alexander Technique from a book?
It is a good idea to read around the subject matter to aid your understanding but no amount of reading is really going to help you discover how you are using or misusing yourself. Also you will sometimes see advertised group courses on the Alexander technique which again are useful in learning about the AT but are no substitute for one to one lessons.
Good introductory books include:
Body Learning – Michael Gelb
Body, Breath and Being – Carolyn Nicholls
The Alexander Principles – John Gray
The Alexander Technique – Chris Stevens (this may be out of print so try second hand book shops).
If you live in the Brighton area, why not try a session for yourself. Book online here
I don’t live in the Brighton area, where can I find a teacher in my area?
Check out the society’s website: www.stat.org.uk