More on

the Alexander Technique

Semi-Supine lying down

Back problem?
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

  Alexander Technique Videos

Rare footage of FM Alexander teaching lessons. Alexander was working with Margaret Goldie who was considered one of the master teachers of the technique.

Back Pain Study

ATEAM on British Medical Journal

The study showed the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique for back pain.

Nikolaas Tinbergen,  Nobel Laureate, discussed the work of Alexander at length in his Nobel acceptance lecture. He and his family had lessons from different teachers in order to critically examine the effect of the Alexander Technique. 

Patrick Macdonald started having  lessons with FM Alexander when he was 10 years old. His father, Peter Macdonald, was chair of the British Mediacal Association and greatly supported Alexander's work. Patrick went on to become one of the most highly respected teachers of the Alexander Technique. 

Patrick Macdonald and Peter Scott

were both highly respected teachers. This video shows them teaching at Alexander Technique teacher training schools. 

Patrick Macdonald in the 80's. The woman in black is Shoshana Kaminitz who was my teacher. She assisted Macdonald for almost three decades and succeded his school after his death. She was an exceptional teacher.

Marjory Barlow teaching a master class. She was a niece of FM Alexander and married to Wilfred Barlow - the author of 'The Alexander Principles'. She taught Sir Paul McCartney.

Walter Carrington trained with FM Alexander and was also considered one of the master teahers of the Alexander Technique.


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 from 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.

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 simple and concise way with a hint of humour.  The new edition is not available in Amazon, so please clcik the link on the book title above.

  • Indirect Procedures: Musicians guide to the Aleander Technique

  • The Alexander Technique Skill for Life

         by Pedro Alcantara

Pedro Alcantara writes clearly about the Alexander Technique. Although aimed at musicians, Indirect Procedures contains very good explanations about 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.

To summarise:

  • 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.

The trial
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.


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