Alexander Technique: move with ease and efficiently


Rob says:

I've very much enjoyed being a student of Sylvie for the last two months, and am genuinely shocked at the profound effect studying the Alexander Technique has had for me.

The benefits of the Alexander Technique

Becoming an Alexander Technique student has several advantages. You will acquire new skills, improve the level of your individual standard performance, you will find pleasure in movement, you will reach more optimality while continually progressing forward step by step, you will reach more of your potential while taking more responsibility of your own wellness and wellbeing.

Acquiring a new set of skills.

Improving the level of an individual standard performance

  • With the AlexanderTechnique, one learns to raise our thoughtfulness and effectiveness in planning and exectuting our everyday activities.
  • Indeed, FM Alexander said: If the mechanical principle employed is a correct one, every movement will be made with a minimum effort.
  • Moving requires less effort and becomes more of a pleasure.
  • We are all improvers whatever our age: there is no rule stipulating that, passed a certain age, we cannot do something or that we can no longer do it. Being an improver requires first to move onto the simple next best step forward: a better movement is enough and is a success, an easier movement is enough and is a success. Secondly, an improver celebrates their step by step successes.

Promot[ing] a sense of well-being and pleasure in movement

  • This is such a lovely experience to have, as stated by Frank Pierce Jones. It is so because during an Alexander Technique class we get a better understanding on how we move.
  • During the exploration of a simple or more complex activity, we understand more and we acquire information intentionally through our own experience: we live it.
  • As a result, we execute better our movements and those movements are more effective. What we have done is we have brought intelligence in our everyday activities so that they become more optimal.
  • We also improve our co-ordination. A better co-ordination helps us move better, helps overcome limitations we are creating for ourselves, helps us bring balance into our life, very often eases pain (muscle/joint/back/neck/shoulder.... pains), improves performance: playing an instrument, acting, sports, ect., brings more speed in our movements.

Reaching your optimality

  • The Alexander Technique is a particular approach to movement in which you start from what you can do and how you can improve on this. Your work toward the next best step forward in a perspective that does not involve a correction of what you are doing.
  • By doing this you avoid putting pressure on yourself, you have a better self-image and you are reaching towards YOUR optimality ( and there are no shortcuts) step by step by step.

Ongoing development step by step

  • Everything in life must be done step by step. It takes time to allow us to develop and grow. Time allows us just that: growing within ourselves to become more of ourselves, to become who we trully are.
  • True, we have set limits. Does it mean, however, that we have to restrict those limits? Not at all. We can improve throughout our life, whatever our age. We are made to improve, we are made to grow towards what is more.
  • The Alexander Technique is a work that deals with change and this ongoing improvement allows us to evolve (i.e. all the processes involved in the quickening of the potentialities of the creature, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual) and to reach more of our potential.

Reaching your potential

  • Is there in us more than what we think? It's a worthwile question as each of us might shortchange ourselves.
  • The fact is, we are all talented. We can all create new and better movements, new and better behaviours. We all have the capacity, the power to change and transform. We can explore what could be, what it would mean to be more of ourselves (and no one else). to reveal what is already there and embrace such a responsibility.

Taking responsibility to help yourself

  • We are sometimes responsible for the pains and discomforts in our bodies.
  • We often blame external circumstances and forget to look in ourselves and forget that we can help ourselves. Indeed, pain can be an alarm for letting us know that we are not using ourselves in accordance with how we are biomechanically made.
  • This means accepting that we need to change a few things which is different than blaming ourselves. It also means that, instead of simply taking our bodies to the GP - a bit in the same way we take our car to the garage - to be fixed, we acknowledge that we are specialists of our bodies and can address the pains and discomfort stemming from the way we organise ourselves. Pain can be the alarm underlying the fact that we are not moving well.
  • There are two sides to a condition (mental, medical, psychological) the condition itself and the reaction we have towards such a condition. It is this reaction we can have an effect upon. We are the only ones who can let go and get rid of the prisons we build ourselves.

Is the Alexander Technique for YOU? Number of lessons?

Is the Alexander Technique for you?

Taking up the Alexander Technique helps you move forward one step at a time, at your own speed.

A help to move differently so that you

  • sit more comfortably
  • move more easily
  • improve your sports, dance, theatre activities.

A help to improve performance

  • in your sports endeavours (run faster, improve some technique, not feel the strain while making some moves, etc.),
  • in playing an instrument,
  • in your personal development.

A help to feel less tired

  • to lead the life you would like to,
  • to indulge in your hobbies and passions.

By learning a new way of thinking, you will use less muscular effort in everything you do and hence will move more easily, efficiently and effectively.

So don't give up, the Alexander Technique can help you move forward and learn a process which is a simple and efficent solution to many problems and limitations we encounter, and very often create, in our lives.

How many Alexander Technique lessons do I need?

You can have as many or as few lessons as you like. The more you do the work (study and lessons) the more you will be able to understand and get practical command (mastery) of the concepts, ideas and principles involved in the technique and be able to do the work for yourself.

Learning the Alexander Technique is no quicker than studying a martial art or learning to play a new musical instrument or learning how to paint. There is no saying how long it will take: your journey will take time.

Give yourself time to learn, to walk your way through confusion, a state that is part of your learning process: if we always know what we are doing we cannot learn something new. It also takes time to learn something of ourselves; we are our own field of experiments: knowledge comes from within.

Whatever your concerns, whatever you might be suffering from there is no substitute but give your body and mind time to change. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GIVE TIME A CHANCE. The answers you are looking for while learning might not come up during your session but afterwards and sometimes weeks afterwards: A big change may happen overnight…. after a long period of input.

A quick-fix is exactly that – quick but it is unlikely to be long lasting. YOU and only you can give yourself time and give the healing process of your body time to work. So do not despair, follow a process and, in time, you will notice change.

The Alexander Technique is an education that requires the student to change their thinking so that they move in a different way and interferes less with the way we are made. The more you study the Alexander Technique, the more lessons you have, the more your understanding grows and the more change for the better you are able to make. The shift in thinking you learn to master, very often, leads to less pain, less tiredness, more mobility. As Alexander said: This may not be today, tomorrow, or the next day, but it will be (…), provided we do work at it.

What we sometimes forget, in cases of chronic issues or conditions, is how long we have put up with or even ignore discomfort before seeking help. What we sometimes forget is that looking for a more natural way to help oneself takes longer to respond BUT the effects and benefits are very often longer lasting.

Not sure? Come to a workshop

Workshops are a nice way to discover the ideas and principles of the Alexander Technique with others who, very likely, have similar questions and concerns as you have. You will also have the opportunity to have a lesson and experience first hand what the Alexander Technique can do for you.

Hayley says:

Fabulous introduction to the Alexander technique this morning. Eye-opening and thought provoking, thanks so much.

Workshops in 2020

Movement Workshop:

Think Smart - Smart move

  • When?: 2020 (date to be confirmed)
  • Where? Patchway Community Centre, Roadway Road, Patchway, BS34 5PF.
  • Time: 1-3pm.
  • Price: £ 10 in advance. Available now. Call, text, email or .
  • How to pay?: cash, cheque, bank transfer, card, mobile pay.

Come along and discover what the Alexander Technique is and what this tool can do for you.

Terms and conditions:

  • Your place on the workshop is secured once you've made your payment;
  • Applicable refunds: cancellation over three weeks before the workshop: -50% of fees refunded; cancellation three weeks or less prior to the workshop: No fees refunded.

About the Alexander Technique

Who created the Alexander Technique (AT)?

The 'Alexander Technique' was created by Australian actor, Frederick Matthias (F.M.) Alexander (1889 - 1955).

He put his work together as a result of becoming hoarse while reciting to the point of not being able to perform. His success in helping himself led to others coming to him for help. On the urge of Doctor McKay, he came to England and established himself London in 1904, never to return to his home country. He published four books: Man’s Supreme Intelligence, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, Use of the Self, The Universal Constant in Living.

In the early 1930s he ran his first teacher training course.

What is the Alexander Technique?

Coming up with a definition for 'What is the Alexander Technique' can prove difficult. As a matter of fact, F.M. Alexander did not provide a definition for his 'technique'; he did not even call what he was doing a 'technique'. This is the label that was attributed to what he was doing after his death.

What F.M. Alexander talked about, though, was 'his work' and 'how to do the work'. It cannot be a surprise then that there is work involved in the Alexander Technique. He himself put a lot of personal work over many years into what he created and was fond of saying you can do what I do, if you will do what I did.

As such, the Alexander Technique is not a therapy; it is an education. This is why there are teachers and students. This is also why students are actively involved in their lessons. Furthermore, Alexander Technique teachers are not health practitioners and as such cannot diagnose.

So we will define the Alexander Technique as the study of thinking in relation to movement (Don Weed).

Is the Alexander Technique about posture?

Contrary to what is often thought, the Alexander Technique is not a therapy, neither does it deal with posture or position.

F.M. Alexander stated in Man's Supreme Inheritance:

The question is not one of correct position, but of correct co-ordination

Thinking is central to the Alexander Technique and plays an important part in its teaching. The Alexander Technique re-trains students' thinking in such a way that this new way of thinking allows the body to move in a more natural way.

As vertebrates, we are made to move and we are in fact designed to do so. You might be doing yoga, running; you might be playing an instrument, etc. This is what you do. Although what you do is important, Alexander claims that how you do your yoga, how you run, how you play your instrument is of greater importance. He claims that your head/neck relationship with your body in movement will improve everything you do and that you will have better co-ordination.

What makes up the Alexander Technique? What is it about?

Movement is an important part of the Alexander Technique and so the Alexander Technique is about movement.

However, the Alexander Technique is not only about movement. It is about the 'study of thinking in relation to movement'.

Manipulations will bring about improvements. For them to be lasting or genuinely improved, though, students have first to learn about the relationship between thinking and movement.

This relationship between thinking and movement is important and its understanding paves the way to acquiring and developing further skills, processes, called mental disciplines.

What is involved while training in the Alexander Technique?

During Alexander Technique lessons, students retrain how they think about their movements.

Thinking is an ability we all have. So what is at the heart of the Alexander Technique is the ability to think in a certain way. And it is that way of thinking differently about standing or sitting, for example, that will bring about change in how the students stand or sit. This change almost always brings about a sense of calm, a sense of space, a sense of grounding and very often lessens pain and discomfort.

Should you decide to become an Alexander Techique student, you will not be given exercises to practice. You will be encouraged to work to principle so that, whatever you explore during a lesson, you will be able to use it in everything you do.

About Alexander Technique lessons

Whom are Alexander Technique lessons for?

Everybody can take part in Alexander Technique lessons: young and not so young; women, men, children; artists; athletes; actors; singers; people with medical conditions or not.

Having Alexander Technique lessons is for anyone who wants to nurture and promote their health. Indeed, taking part in Alexander Technique lessons acts as a prevention and contributes to how well and healthy we feel.

So what does being healthy mean? What is health? According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

When defining health in such a way, one does not only focus on the medical care - the dis-ease side - and one also includes other important aspects in the life of the individual: how do they feel all around? Emotionally, mentally, socially, physically?

Taking part in Alexander Technique lessons leads us towards a healthier way of life: we are not always aware that the ills we are suffering from come from the way we organise ourselves.

What to expect during a first Alexander Technique lesson?

When you come for an Alexander Technique lesson for the first time, you will be asked a few questions about yourself and if you are suffering from any medical condition.

Then the teacher will give you an introduction of the ideas, concepts and principles of the Alexander Technique. This opens the door to your understanding about the Alexander Technique and will lead to your first Alexander Technique lesson.

What happens in an Alexander Technique lesson?

Students usually come to Alexander Technique lessons with an issue related to an everyday activity or to a more specialised activity. Whether the movement issue is related to walking, raising your arm, bending your leg, lifting something, talking, singing, riding your bike, running, playing an instrument, etc. we will discuss what your issue is and why it is an issue for you.

After such a discussion you will perform your activity and we will analyse what is going on. This almost always leads to a new understanding and, together with gentle manipulations, to a new experience. This understanding combined to experience bring about change: you will perform your activity in a different way which brings about ease of movement and less discomfort.

A lesson is a time spent:

  • retraining our thinking,
  • discussing FM Alexander's concepts ideas, principles,
  • examining our own ideas and sometimes figuring out.... they are not that helpful,
  • experiencing gentle manipulations,
  • eventually leaving behind us limitations we created for ourselves,

in a friendly, supportive and kind environment.

A lesson gives the student a chance to look through the looking glass and to see what might be different from what they think is true. The lesson time provides a space for interacting with thoughts, ideas, beliefs as if in an argument. This process is interesting as it leads the student to a crossroad, a fork in the road, where they need to decide which road they are going to take. Indeed: "You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself" (Carnegie).

Lessons are a fun, challenging and a rewarding experience. When students learn the technique for themselves and do not bring in their old problems and limitations, they are very often amazed at the results: their activities are easier, simpler, more enjoyable, have a different quality. All these positive outcomes mean students experience success on a regular basis. And experiencing success makes us feel very good indeed.

What is the aim and focus of an Alexander Technique lesson?

The focus of a session is on movement.

On movement AND what drives the movement, i.e the thinking behind it, the thinking that drives it.

In a lesson we will look into that relationship between thinking and movement and we will inevitably come across a saying by Einstein: It is easier to break the atom than to destroy prejudice. We all have prejudices and beliefs regarding how we ought to move and how we ought to behave. Learning to question those prejudices and beliefs leads to more freedom, simple and easier movements.

An Alexander Technique lesson takes place in the now

Whatever activity you choose to perform in an Alexander Technique lesson takes place in the here and now, within the present circumstances you find yourself in. The reason for that is that we get improvement in the present, not in the past or the future.

The past is no longer and nothing new can happen if we are prisoners of our past. Shedding the past allows to start anew. So, even though everything is repeated (whatever the activity chosen: walking, sitting, dancing, writing, playing an instrument, etc.) everything is new as each time the movement is performed with an open mind in the present moment (new) while at the same time being informed by past experiences.

As Osho says To be in the moment is the miracle: it helps slow down, it helps to pay attention to what we are doing, it helps to be in the moment of the activity (not to be on autopilot), it helps to be more at peace, it helps to have more time, it helps to improve our wellbeing. Indeed, this attention to the present usually leads to less tension and seems to generally promote happiness.

What is the role of the student during an Alexander Technique lesson?

Alexander Technique students play an active part in their lessons. Lessons are designed around whatever issue or concern students bring to the lesson. They learn how to do things for themselves (when they want to, as they want to) without adding additional muscular effort.

This active part, this engagement of thoughts and thinking leads to learning and, step by step, progress. As a matter of fact, without a student’s collaboration, change cannot take place and hence, the student's condition cannot improve.

What do we learn in an Alexander Technique lesson?

Participating in Alexander Technique lessons does not teach anything new. Frank Pierce Jones puts it this way: (...) the Alexander Technique doesn't teach you something new to do. It teaches you how to bring more practical intelligence into what you are already doing (...).

It is true that we all 'know' how to sit, stand, walk, etc. During a lesson, we learn to stop how we usually react and to function in such a way that we perform our activity with as much effort as necessary and no more.

What we gain during a lesson is a better understanding of what we are doing and how we are doing it, a more efficient way to go about our activity. In this respect, we perform a 'new' movement in the now of the lesson.

We can transfer what we learn in a lesson to our everyday activities: we are less locked in contractions and tension we might not even have been aware of, we are less tired, we act more rapidly with less effort for a longer time in all situations.

As a result, in the long term, we learn to differentiate between our different body parts. As obvious as it may seem, our neck is not our arm or our legs. It is, however surprising, how many of us tense up our neck to bend our arm or move our legs.

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This page was last modified on Feb 22 2021 10:46am