Alexander Technique Space
North London, Exeter & Totnes
Alexander Technique Space
North London, Exeter & Totnes
North London, Exeter & Totnes
Tel: 0730 5577700
" Fumiaki has very soft but very powerful touch.
I walked out today feeling about 6 inches taller. "
What is the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is a subtle yet powerful way to restore the natural poise we have within.
Through hands-on guidance and verbal instruction, students become aware of their lifelong habits and learn to re-establish proper alignment of the body. This process facilitates better coordination and enables the whole body to function more naturally.
This simple and subtle change in the way you use yourself can bring about profound benefits to both your mind and body.
People have Alexander Technique lessons for many reasons: back pain, neck and shoulder pain, tension headaches, RSI, and also improving poor posture, music playing skills, horse riding, playing golf and the list goes on.
Health and well-being
As we grow older, we accumulate many harmful habits, such as hunching over a desk. These repeated patterns can cause the spine to become misaligned, affecting many functions of the body, including breathing, digestion, and coordination.
People come to the Alexander Technique for many different reasons.
Back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain
RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)
Actors, dancers, musicians, public speakers, and sportspeople use the Alexander Technique to improve their performance. It is often taught at performing arts schools and colleges. Whatever the activity, the Alexander Technique teaches you to do it better with ease.
People interested in self-development can use the Alexander Technique for life-long learning.
What happens in a lesson?
An Alexander Technique lesson lasts 45 minutes and is usually taught on a one to one basis. There are generally two parts to the lesson. The first is referred to as ‘chair work’. Simple daily movements such as sitting, standing, and walking are used to facilitate the proper relationship of the head, neck, and back in activity. The second part is called ‘table work’. The student lies on their back on a specially designed table. With the help of the teacher, the student learns to release long-held tension while lengthening and widening the back.
Please wear loose-fitting clothes (no skirts). You will be asked to take your shoes off.
Please give at least 24hours notice if you need to cancel your appointment. Missed appointment or cancellation less than 24hours notice will be charged for the lesson.
FM Alexander – How it all started
FM Alexander was born in 1869 in Tasmania. As a child, Alexander showed a great interest in
poetry, especially the works of Shakespeare. His love of reciting and interpretation of the
characters naturally lead him to become an actor. His career went well until he started to develop
a throat problem.
Despite consultations with doctors and voice teachers, his condition worsened and he began to
lose his voice on a regular basis. When offered an attractive reciting job he saw the doctor again.
He reassured Alexander that if he used his voice as little as possible until the recital, he would regain his voice. The doctor’s advice worked but only until he started reciting. The hoarseness returned, and by the end of the performance he could hardly speak.
Alexander consulted the doctor yet again and was told to continue to rest his voice. However Alexander argued that despite following this advice the hoarseness returned as soon as he performed. He concluded that it must be the way he recited that caused the problem. The doctor agreed but could not tell him what he was doing wrong. At that point, Alexander decided to find
out himself and his years of investigation began.
Through lengthy experimentation he discovered that the relationship of the head, neck, and back determines the functioning of the whole body. Eventually he was able to break his habitual way of using himself and improved the condition of his throat as well as his general health.
Semi-Supine lying down
Then, try this.
It might help you.
Lie on your back on the floor (not on the bed).
Knees bent and head resting on a book(s).
Feet should be hip-width apart.
If your head feels uncomfortable or have neck ache, put a towel on top of the book(s).
Put your hands resting on your hips, rib cage or next to the body and keep your palms facing down.
Now … Do Nothing!
Just lie down.
Don’t work hard to release your muscles.
Simply, leave your body alone.
Then your body will unfold itself and find its natural state.
Your body knows how to restore itself,
if you stop clenching your muscles.
If you try too hard to let go,
you may trigger your muscles to tighten without knowing it.
The trick is to give up … Surrender,
give your body the rest it deserves.
Get out of the way,
and allow the body to do its work.
Then see what happens.
... stay there for 10-15 minutes.
Do it twice a day or more if you want to,
as long as it doesn’t give you pain.
The more you rest, the more your body will recover its poise.
While the ‘Alexander Technique semi-supine lie down’ can do very little harm, if you feel any discomfort please stop right away. Most likely you are doing something wrong.
If your back is too painful to even lie down, you may need to calm that down before you can try this.
If you think you might have a problem doing this, please consult with your doctor before trying it.
The height of the book is important. This usually would be checked by an Alexander teacher, but for now, use one or two books so that your face is level not tipped backward
Books on the Alexander Technique
Here are some of the books on the Alexander Technique I recommend.
Body Learning by Michael Gelb
Alexander Technique Workbook by Richard Brennan
These are great introductory books as they are easy to read and cover the key principles of the Alexander Technique.
The Use of the Self by FM Alexander
If you want to expand your understanding of the Alexander Technique, it is essential to read his books. However, Alexander's books can be difficult to read because of his writing style. I recommend starting with this one. The first chapter 'Evolution of a technique' is considered as one of the most important writings on the Alexander technique. He describes how he developed his technique in detail.
The Body in Motion by Ted Dimon
It is not specifically on the Alexander Technique, but the author is a well known AT teacher. He describes how the 'Primary Control' functions in a simple and clear manner, although he doesn't use the term in the book. The first two chapters illustrate this clearly.
The Alexander Technique As I See It by Patrick Macdonald
This book is more for AT teachers, but it contains Macdonald's wisdom on the Alexander Technique. I find the notebook jotting section is like writing on zen. He covers the essence of the Alexander Technique with a simple and concise way with a hint of humour. The new edition is not available on Amazon, so please click the link on the book title above.
Indirect Procedures: Musicians guide to the Alexander Technique
by Pedro Alcantara
Pedro Alcantara writes clearly about the Alexander Technique. Although aimed at musicians, Indirect Procedures contains very good explanations about the principles of the Alexander Technique and is a great read for non-musicians too.
Research on the Alexander Technique
Significant long-term benefit from Alexander Technique lessons for low back pain has been demonstrated by a major study published by the British Medical Journal.
24 AT lessons proved to be most beneficial
Six lessons followed by exercise were about 70% as effective as 24 lessons
Long-term benefits unlikely to be due to placebo effect
Lessons were one-to-one, provided by experienced STAT teachers
This was a scientific randomised controlled trial
579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain; 144 were randomised to normal care, 147 to massage, 144 to six Alexander technique lessons, and 144 to 24 Alexander technique lessons; half of each of these groups were randomised to exercise prescription.
This research trial compared the long-term benefits of the following groups:
Six lessons in the Alexander Technique (AT)
24 lessons in the AT
Six sessions of a classical massage
GP-prescribed aerobic exercise
With a control group which received normal GP care, for NHS patients with significant chronic or recurrent non-specific low back pain.
Half the patients in four groups (Six AT lessons, 24 AT lessons, massage and control) were provided with a GP prescription for taking general aerobic exercise (mainly 30 minutes of brisk walking or the equivalent each day) with practice nurse behavioural counselling. The prescription was given six weeks after patients entered the trial so that exercise followed the six massage sessions and 6 AT lessons, but often overlapped with most lessons for the 24 AT lesson group. 579 patients were recruited from 64 GP practices and 59 Alexander Technique teachers participated in the trial.