Alexander Technique

How is it taught?

Learning the Alexander Technique may be broken down into three strands when you come for your lessons. Cognitive: That is when you chat, ask questions; listen to explanations very much as you would in most learning forums, though this is usually carried out one-to-one with AT. Experimental: Where we try out the ideas and principles of the work, while observing our responses in practical situations like walking, rising / sitting, squatting, and much more, activity becoming more complex as the pupil progresses. Phenomenological: This one takes some explaining. Neuroscientists have gone some way towards understanding this. We know for instance that the way we put hands on our pupils stimulates the movement centres in the brain. The pupil is mentally active at this point in directing movement to happen, but inhibiting any impulse to do anything at all in a muscular way. It has the desired effect but there is as yet, no full scientific explanation of this phenomenon, even though Alexander teachers have been doing it since the man himself gave the first lesson in 1894. What we know empirically is that information transfers during this process. For example, if you present me (or any other AT teacher) with an averagely friendly cat, dog or horse, and I place my hands on it and think to myself the instruction for my back to lengthen, the creatures back will do what I have asked of myself, it gets longer. So we know through touch that the living swap information, even if we dont know in what language. My pupils respond to me similarly. It is why AT teachers train for so long in order to minimize their own unwanted tensions and to be able to block their own interferences from translating to the pupil. Between the instruction and hands-on input from the teacher, and the practise carried out by the pupil, the skill develops into a robust process which the pupil puts to work to improve their life in whatever field and in any activity they chose to do. What is being asked is to raise awareness, self-observe, and intervene in the response to whatever stimulus using a clearly directed, structured thought process; structured to replicate the best functional human state; the same as with nature in us, and any other creature that has a spine, when the conditions are right. So the Technique can be used to heighten performance or to help fix a huge amount of health problems. The joy being that you learn to do this for yourself. The purpose of your teacher is to get you around a determined defence process that has based all that it knows on a learned error. While it remains in place and unchallenged, the good thing will always seem like a wrong thing to you. For the self employed this work has the added value of being tax-deductable. When you stop doing the thing that is wrong, the thing that is right does itself! F.M.Alexander

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