- Is the Technique a Method for Correcting Posture?
- How can Alexander be applied to music, dancing, acting and singing?
- How is Alexander relevant to sports activities, exercise and fitness?
- Are lessons covered by Private Medical Insurance?
- How does the Alexander Technique differ from other approaches?
- Can I combine my Alexander lessons with other treatments?
- Can I learn Alexander in a group?
- Is Alexander useful for pregnant women?
- Can Alexander help cases of RSI and general IT-related problems?
- How many Alexander sessions do I need and what will it cost?
- Can the Alexander Technique help resolve emotional problems?
- How can I train to be an Alexander Technique Teacher?
- I have more questions!
Is the Technique a Method for Correcting Posture?
A large number of people complain of postural problems, such as hunched shoulders, curved spine, neck and shoulder tension, and back pain. A skilful Alexander Teacher can use expert manual guidance to help a person recover their natural poise, thereby correcting posture problems and imbalances.
How can Alexander be applied to music, dancing, acting and singing?
The Alexander Technique is now taught in leading performance colleges and music schools including the the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Whether you are a singer, actor, dancer or musician, the Alexander Technique can greatly enhance your performance skills and professional life.
Musicians often play their instruments with too much tension, often leading to pain, discomfort and even injury. The technique can teach a musician to use the appropriate amount of tension so that playing becomes fluid and free.
Dancers, both classical and contemporary, have to endure extreme physical pressures during their training and work. Many hold themselves too rigidly, and put too much effort into their performance. The Alexander Technique is used to improve poise, gracefulness and mobility and avoid strain and injury.
Perhaps the main challenge facing actors and performers in general, is stage fright. As the fear increases, the breathing becomes shallow, and the body becomes tense and fixed. The Alexander Technique is a form of stress-management that generates an inner calm, and a capacity for coping with performance anxiety without freezing. The technique also heightens the ability to incorporate character roles, and enhances stage presence.
The Alexander Technique originated as a practical method to sort out Alexander’s personal voice problems. Today, the technique is still used to eradicate breathing difficulties, avoid vocal strain, generate resonance and improve tonal quality. Vocalists often overexert themselves in an effort to achieve results. Through the Alexander Technique, they learn that less effort brings better results.
Numerous well known performers rank among the students of the Technique, including Sting, Paul McCartney, John Cleese, Madonna, Paul Newman, Jeremy Irons, Yehudi Menuhin, James Galway, Julie Andrews, William Hurt and Sir Colin Davis.
How is Alexander relevant to sports activities, exercise and fitness?
Alexander pupils often ask about the benefits of doing sports or particular exercises. The answer is not always simple. Our everyday habits of tension become exaggerated during sport activity and physical exertion, and this may reinforce and exacerbate our problems. The rigours of gym work and weightlifting are particularly liable to have this effect. However, after learning the Alexander Technique, exercise can be carried out with more freedom and efficiency, and the benefits of the activity will not be outweighed by strain and injury. The technique can then be safely applied to a variety of sports and leisure activities like horse-riding, swimming, jogging, skiing, tennis and golf, and can greatly enhance both skill and enjoyment. Essentially, good Alexander practice is what I would term intelligent training.
Are lessons covered by Private Medical Insurance?
Many of the major private medical insurance companies will reimburse the cost of Alexander Technique lessons. This is usually conditional on a referral from a GP or consultant. You will need to check the individual criteria with your company. The following companies will normally accept the Alexander Technique:
Allied Dunbar, BCWA, Cigna, The Civil Service Medical Aid Association, Ellis Healthcare, The E.C. Joint Medical Insurance Scheme, Executive Healthcare Ltd., Exeter Friendly Society, Guardian Health, Healthcare Management, IGI, Iron Trades Ass. Co., Managed Care Consultants Ltd., Medical Claims Handling, Medisure, Norwich Union, OHRA, Orion, Prime Health, UAP Provincial Insurance, The U.N.’s Medical Insurance Scheme, WPA.
How does the Alexander Technique differ from other approaches?
First and foremost, the Alexander Technique is an education that requires the active participation of the pupil. For this reason, an Alexander practitioner is referred to as a teacher, and Alexander sessions are referred to as lessons. It is not a treatment where the client is a passive recipient of this or that experience. The technique does not include stretches, postures or exercises, as in Yoga, Pilates or gym work. Instead, it teaches a particular quality of calmness and harmony that can then form the basis of all activities.
Often your osteopath, chiropractic or physiotherapist may suggest that you learn the Alexander Technique because although they manage to bring temporary relief, your symptoms tend to reappear. This is usually a sign that your habits of tension are contributing to your problems, and recreating your distress. The technique can teach you to unlearn these habits.
Ultimately, the technique offers a variety of health benefits that can be maintained by the pupil without having to return to a practitioner. The best Alexander Teacher works hard to make himself or herself redundant!
Can I combine my Alexander lessons with other treatments?
An Alexander teacher does not diagnose medical problems, or prescribe treatments for particular ailments. Alexander pupils are responsible for making informed choices for themselves. However, it can be confusing to engage in a series of approaches simultaneously. It may be difficult then to determine what is helpful and what is unhelpful. Therefore it is often better to have a series of sessions in the technique first, so that you can learn a basic foundation in good use and functioning, and remove the root cause of so many problems.
The Alexander Studio passionately believes in a holistic and integrated approach to health. Some treatments can be extremely effective in certain conditions, and may contribute to the healing and wellbeing of the pupil. The Alexander Studio has liaised effectively with some of the best medical and complimentary health practitioners, in the fields of rheumatology, sports medicine, osteopathy, psychotherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine. We are happy to refer our pupils to this body of experts, and where necessary to review the pupil’s progress within this integrated framework.
Can I learn Alexander in a group?
The real way to learn the Alexander Technique is from a highly trained professional in a series of one-on-one sessions. It is misleading to suggest that the technique can be learned in a group, since pupils need individual care and attention. However, sometimes group introductions can offer a useful overview of the technique and may inspire those who may wish to embark on a course of private lessons. The Alexander Studio does provide regular group workshops for this purpose.
Is Alexander useful for pregnant women?
The Alexander Technique can be invaluable to women before, during and after childbirth.
As a preparation for the demands of pregnancy, the technique offers a way to unlearn harmful postural patterns, and increase co-ordination and poise. Then, as changes happen in balance and structure during the growing pregnancy, women can learn how to avoid lower backache, and carry out their everyday activities with as much efficiency as possible.
The Alexander Technique is widely acknowledged to be of help even during childbirth. The training helps the mother cope with the inevitable pain and struggle, and allows the body to maximise its innate wisdom and minimise interference with the birth process.
And finally, the mother can benefit from the technique as she manages herself during feeding, carrying and caring for her infant.
Can Alexander help cases of RSI and general IT-related problems?
With all these types of conditions, faulty use and poor postural habits do seem to play a major role. The Alexander Technique can be essential both for prevention and recovery from these conditions. Sufferers tend to have muscular distortions and tension in the neck, back and arms. This faulty use is exaggerated during the stresses and pressures of work and the demands of IT equipment. This leads to constant irritation of the injury, and the inability to heal and recover. Repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome and work-related upper limb disorders all have a use component. By addressing the cause of these problems, the technique teaches pupils how to look after themselves and maintain muscular ease and freedom throughout the work day. The recovery period is then speeded up.
The Alexander Technique is a sophisticated approach to ergonomics, but with a difference. Ergonomics traditionally attempts to match the machine, or equipment to the person, by making chairs more comfortable and supportive, and designing effective work stations. The Alexander Technique starts with the person. Re-educating the pupil to acquire a general and overall good use means that a worker can adapt himself or herself to whatever situation or equipment is presented.
How many Alexander sessions do I need and what will it cost?
There is no magic number of sessions. This depends on a number of factors including time, budget, severity of the condition, motivation and interest in the technique. Benefits may be noticeable in just a few sessions and sometimes immediately. However, since the technique is an education in self-management, you may perhaps need a minimum of several sessions in order to maintain the benefits on your own, and to carry on improving. There are no limits to progress.
Costs of sessions at our London Studio vary and usually depend on the experience of the teacher. All the teachers at the Alexander Studio are highly skilled. Typically, sessions cost between £35 to £75. They do however, reserve a number of places for discretionary rates.
Can the Alexander Technique help resolve emotional problems?
The Alexander Technique is a system based on the premise of psycho-physical unity. Our minds and bodies are really part of the same unified psycho-physical self. So, emotional struggles are evident in our postural behaviour, and harmful postural habits in turn generate poor emotional functioning. Muscular distortions can serve as a filter against psychological pain and distress. During Alexander sessions, pupils become aware of this mind-body link and become more able to reduce this filter. This process includes emotional insight, and can lead to psychological growth and healing. The ability to handle stress and anxiety is enhanced and the Technique can also be described as an effective means of stress management.
However, the Alexander Technique is not a replacement for psychotherapy. Under certain conditions, it may be appropriate to engage in psychotherapy. Many pupils have found it particularly valuable and supportive to have psychotherapy at the same time as Alexander sessions.
How can I train to be an Alexander Technique Teacher?
Training in the Alexander Technique is a serious commitment. It takes a minimum of three years, and comprises about 1600 contact hours within a training school. After the successful completion of the teacher training course, a student will be eligible to receive a certificate and entry into the worldwide profession of Alexander Teachers.
But an Alexander teacher training course is much more than a professional qualification. It involves a fascinating journey of personal growth and development in which the student has the opportunity to deepen and integrate the principles and practice of the Alexander Technique. Some students view this personal aspect as being at least as important as the professional qualification. Indeed, this may be the major motivation to embark on a teacher training course.
If you are interested in Alexander Technique training in London, UK, then why not contact us at the Alexander Studio, or follow the link to The Alexander Teacher Training School, which gives details of Alexander Teacher Training in central London.
I have more questions!
If you have a query that is not addressed in the above series of questions and answers, please feel free to call us or contact us, and we will do our best to answer you as soon as possible. Also, individual consultations are available for those who want help and guidance, or even referrals to other teachers of the Alexander Technique in London or elsewhere, or health care professionals.