Pause right now.Don’t change how you are sitting as you read this. Take a moment to see what you notice. Do you sense any discomfort, overwork or compression? Is your neck or jaw tight? Are your back and shoulders slumped, or wrists and fingers tense? Are you holding your breath? Now, allow yourself to move. See what happens when you bring your awareness to the way you are experiencing yourself. This is the first step to learning the Alexander Technique, and to peeling away layers of habit that keep you from realizing your natural ease.
What to expect in an Alexander lessonLessons are tailored to your unique needs, they include explorations of everyday activities, constructive rest and specialized movements within each students life. Through verbal and visual ques, as well as gentle hands-on guidance Alexander teachers work with you to help you develop a more refined awareness about your movement choices, and the skills you need to realize greater ease.
Exploring Daily Activities: “Chairwork”Lessons typically include time spent exploring daily activities, ones we all do, and usually do semi-unconsciously. We bring our conscious attention to these activities to find out what habits we may have that interfere with our natural ease and efficiency. One aspect of Alexander lessons is “Chairwork” – which is time spent exploring sitting and standing. In lessons we’ll also often explore other simple activities like walking, speaking, bending and reaching.
Constructive Rest: “Tablework”Tablework is a part of most Alexander Technique lessons. The idea behind constructive rest is to give the student a chance to experience and learn the principles of the Alexander Technique while there are less demands on the body. Alexander teachers use a light and highly-skilled touch that is not manipulative or intrusive but rather trained to heighten your kinesthetic experience. While on the table the teacher will gently move you and help guide you into a release of excess muscular effort and into greater integration.
Applications: Your interests and the ATStudents are encouraged to bring their own needs and interests into their Alexander lessons. From coping with injury or pain, singing or public speaking, performing monologues, playing instruments or sports, doing yoga, tai ji, exercises, deskwork or housework; an Alexander teacher can help you to explore doing everything you need and want to do with less compression, more choice, and increased awareness.
- Breathing is as fundamental to life as our heart-beat, and is an involuntary process (we don’t need to do anything to breathe, it happens even when we are sleeping!), but for most of us it is a frequent place of interference. Many of us hold our breath — to concentrate, to exercise, even when we speak! When F.M. Alexander developed the Technique he found that freeing the natural breath was an essential part of freeing the whole use of the self and it is therefore incorporated into most every Alexander Technique lesson.