Finding Freedom in Body and Mind
About the Alexander Technique
Most of us carry around a ‘back-pack’ full of once-appropriate-but-no-longer-necessary stresses, anxieties and muscular tensions. Usually we are unaware that we are doing this and so we unknowingly allow more of these to accumulate. Without realising it, carrying the back-pack becomes a habit, gradually ‘shaping’ the way we move, think, feel and experience life, whilst becoming so familiar that we begin to believe that it is in fact part of us: “ This is just the way I am” (round-shouldered, slumped, ungrounded, nervous, clumsy…).
Of course, it takes a lot of effort to continually carry around an ever-filling back-pack of habits in the form of inappropriate muscular tension or collapse…. and so after a while the very core of ourselves (the head, neck and back) is unable to efficiently do its delicate and essential task of supporting us. At some point we begin to notice signs of wear and tear, fatigue, aches, restriction of movement….or even pain. At this point, what we have usually forgotten is that we can take the back-pack off, leaving us free again to move, breathe, think and perform naturally and spontaneously! The Alexander Technique is an effective way of learning to ‘take off the back-pack’.
Changing the habits of a life-time is empowering, yet can take time. It involves a gradual unfolding and letting go of the ingrained muscular and mental habits that have so often led to states of pain or dis-ease and requires patience as well as a willingness to learn something different. For this reason the Alexander Technique is most beneficial when learnt regularly (e.g. at least once a week) either in one-to-one ‘lessons’ or in group classes. What happens in a lesson will be unique to the ‘pupil’ (client), depending on her needs and reasons for attending. Typically however, a lesson will consist of mainly practical work, either in movement e.g. walking, bending, carrying out an activity… or in stillness e.g. lying, sitting… with opportunities for feed-back, observations and discussion.
During a lesson, the Alexander teacher will skilfully use her hands to both listen and tune in to the patterns of tension and muscular pulls within the pupil’s body and also to help gently guide the pupil into a more released and free state. As part of this process, the pupil will be asked to consciously engage with her body / musculature through becoming more aware of parts of herself; through thoughts about ‘doing less’; and through thoughts about constructively releasing, (as outlined by FM Alexander) as suggested by the teacher. Lessons are given fully clothed.
If you would like to begin ‘tasting’ some of what working with the Alexander Technique involves, have a look at the information below about ‘Semi-supine’ and try this out. Its easy and may empower you to begin making changes even before having an Alexander lesson!
Semi-Supine – A way of beginning to ‘Work on Yourself’:
Here is something you can try as a way of beginning to work with the Alexander Technique on your own, at home. You will need somewhere to lie (eg a warm room with a rug on the floor), and a small pile of paper-backed books, to use as a head-rest. This Semi-supine ‘exercise’ will take approximately 20 minutes, and will help to enable you to begin to release the tension in your back (and body generally) by focussing your consciousness precisely within your musculature, according to FM Alexander’s principles. Here is a 26 minute video which you can purchase and download, that gives you lots of information about why working in this way is helpful; about what is happening within your body when you lie in semi-supine; about how exactly to lie in semi-supine and how to use this as a beneficial way of releasing. Here also are four ‘talk-throughs’ to listen to whilst lying in semi-supine, all with a slightly different focus.
1.Being attentive and becoming present
My journey with the Alexander Technique
I came across the F.M. Alexander Technique when I was 14 years old, having had many years of childhood knee pain, and having exhausted all the usual methods of treatment: physiotherapy, drugs and surgery. After my first few lessons, I did not know what exactly had happened, but just that my knees felt as if they had been oiled, and I felt such a difference throughout the whole of my body that I became fascinated to learn more about this work. After 3 years of lessons, I was totally ‘hooked’ and at 17 years old I enrolled on a three year professional teacher training course, graduating from Fellside Alexander School in 1989.
Since graduating I have taught in private practise and run groups and workshops in a wide variety of settings: in performing arts schools (LISPA, RADA), in clinics (Lakeland Nuffield Hospital and The London Haven – a breast cancer centre), and in Alexander training schools, as well as running many specialised courses for horse riders, artists, musicians, singers, and for post graduate Alexander teachers – applying the Technique to anatomy, embryology, Dart work, and energy/emotions. Additionally, I have a particular interest in using the Technique to work with people experiencing shock or trauma following accidents, bereavement or life changing situations.
I see the Alexander Technique as an effective, exciting, reliable framework for change that has the potential to enable each individual to become more fully themselves. As an Alexander Teacher I see myself as being an enabler and guide to the changes that each person has the potential to make and feel honoured to witness and be part of this journey.
I have a gentle, exploratory, eclectic approach to my teaching and I am a member of A.T.I. (Alexander Technique International).
To book an appointment
To make an appointment or to discuss the possibility of having an Alexander lesson, please phone Delia on 01342 825031
For information about training to be an Alexander Teacher
please visit the South East Alexander School’s website.
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