So what is the Alexander Technique anyway?

‘What’s that?’ is usually the response I get when I say that I am an Alexander Technique teacher. It’s an educational method, which has been around for well over a hundred years and has helped countless people move more easily, free themselves from everyday issues and be more in control of their mind and bodies. You can go to your osteopath for treatment and have some great results, but if you carry on doing the things in everyday life that were causing you difficulties in the first place, that treatment might not be as long-lasting. The Alexander Technique gives you the tools to take that understanding into the day to day and make the changes sustainable. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But what actually is it?

Fundamentally, the Alexander Technique is experiential. Experiencing a lesson is by far the best way to see what it can do for you and to see its incredible benefits. But let me explain first how a lesson works, whether it is individually or a group. We will discuss the work, perhaps read some text and it being a principle based discipline, will have a look at some of those principles that underpin it. Then you, the student, and I, the teacher, will go to work. Lessons take place ‘in activity’ so this activity could be sitting in a chair, standing, walking, bending down, playing the tuba or knitting! It does not matter what the movement is, we just teach while you are ‘in activity’. As a teacher, I will then gently use my hands to suggest subtle changes to the way that you are doing that activity so that you can move more freely and effectively. The use of hands in this way is something which sets the Alexander Technique apart from other disciplines.

But explaining it is really best left to those who have experienced it so I will leave you with some quotes from the students of the last Introduction to the Alexander Technique course in Autumn 2016.

“A brilliant introduction to the AT and I highly recommend Lynsey as a teacher. I just feel so much better for it and am moving much more freely.”

“The pain in my shoulder has gone! I am also calmer and more considered in my daily life.”

“It has helped me enormously… the technique has given me a greater awareness of my posture, positioning and informs me to let go of holding tension in my body.”

“I loved the interaction between the tutor and the students. The interactions linked the theory with the practice visually. It just made sense. I loved the way the group gelled too.”

A saddle and two lost dogs: how I found the Alexander Technique

I first encountered the Alexander Technique by accident. I was working as a management consultant in the city, was stressed, busy and tired. I was visiting Bristol to drop off a horse’s saddle to someone I knew and asked another friend if I could stay with her. She happened to be training to be an Alexander Technique teacher, which I had heard off but didn’t know anything about. Fortunately for me, our plans to have a quiet dinner did not materialise as her two lively Jack Russel terriers decided that this was the night they were going to go hunting and not come back. Not wanting to drag me around the fields looking for dogs, my friend suggested I attend the group Alexander Technique class that night that her colleague was running and we would meet up later. I reluctantly agreed.

Well, that night was a game changer. I didn’t understand what I was seeing; all I knew was that I wanted some of that. I did not realise that my body could feel that way. I felt light, free and my anxiety reduced. And all this happened with the help of a gentle guiding touch and a few questions from the teacher, Simon. A few weeks later I was at an introductory session, led by Dr Don Weed (a leading author and expert on the Technique, who was to become my tutor and mentor), I signed up for a 5 day summer workshop and in the September found myself on a 4 year teacher training programme to learn to be an Alexander Technique teacher in the Interactive Teaching Method.

I still didn’t really understand what the Alexander Technique was….

However, over the next 4 years I learnt how to really think, to exercise control over my mind and body, to make decisions based on sound judgement and above all to start fulfilling my potential as a human being. This probably sounds rather grandiose and time consuming but rest assured, you do not need to train for 4 years to be a teacher to get the benefits of the Alexander Technique.

In a handful of lessons, my mind was opened to how I could properly operate the body I lived in. I learnt that I didn’t need to be carrying tension around all the time, I didn’t need to feel that knot of anxiety in my stomach, I didn’t have to have regular headaches or a niggling back ache. The everyday aches and pains that we put up with or think ‘oh, I’m just getting older’ could be got rid of. I could feel free, alert and ready for whatever challenge life threw at me.

Having now qualified as a teacher and running an active practice in West London (alongside my personal training and public speaking work – yes, I never did go back to being a management consultant), I find I am still improving. And that is what I love about the Technique. It is about constant improvement, getting better, feeling better all the time, whatever our circumstances. I can’t think of a better way to live than to help others learn this too.

And all because of a saddle and two lost dogs (who, by the way, were eventually found in a field later that night)….