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Wholeness in Movement
The Alexander Technique helps you to identify and lose the harmful habits you have built up over a lifetime of stress. You learn to go about your daily life with a heightened awareness and overall sense of well-being. It is a holistic approach to human functioning and works towards rediscovering the ease and freedom in movement, so noticeable in small children, that we tend to lose over time. The teacher guides you with a light touch of her hands and together you pinpoint tension areas and improve patterns of movement. Lessons leave one feeling lighter, freer, and more grounded.
F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor who suffered from breathing problems and hoarseness whenever he performed. Failing to find any helpful medical treatment Alexander set out to solve the problem for himself. His observations and experiments led him to uncover excess tension in his neck which formed a habitual pattern of tension throughout his body. His significant recovery encouraged him to continue his research while training others in what became known as the Alexander Technique.
It is a technique used successfully by many professional actors, musicians and dancers and is highly praised by the medical profession.
“Mr. Alexander’s method lays hold of the individual as a whole, as a self-vitalizing agent. He reconditions and re-educates the reflex mechanisms and brings their habits into normal relation with the functioning of the organism as a whole. I regard this method as thoroughly scientific and educationally sound.”
- Professor George E. Coghill, award-winning anatomist and physiologist
“Alexander’s work is of first class importance and investigation by the medical profession is imperative.” - British Medical Journal
We move everyday yet most of us don't question HOW we move or consider our IDEAS about movement until we have aches and pains or find it difficult to master a technique or sport. This work gives a fresh perspective on how our minds and our bodies function as a whole. Misconceived ideas about movement are just as important as the movement itself.
Being in touch and aware of your habitual way of living can enable you to move in harmony rather than against your physical design avoiding needless stress, injury and discomfort. Ultimately, it aims to give you the knowledge and tools to become your own expert.
The premise of this work is that our thoughts and beliefs generate continual physical patterns of coordination. In other words, the way we think is interwoven into the way we move and live our lives in general.
For example, if you have sore shoulders, it could be the result of you rushing around all day trying to achieve the unrealistically long list of tasks you have set yourself. The tension you feel in your shoulders is reflecting what it is like to try and accomplish the impossible. Or perhaps it is due to the way you sit at the computer day after day. That is why in this work we begin with a clean slate and aim to uncover the source of the problem rather than treating the result of it. In other words, treating sore shoulders may not necessarily mean working directly on the shoulders. There are different ways of approaching an issue.
Moving with knowledge
Sessions help you understand how your system (body/mind) operates and how to change harmful habits. You learn the tools and process to improve your artistic or sports technique, to prevent injury or simply to improve your overall health. If you have a painful or chronic condition this work has been shown to encourage healing and alleviate pain. However, it is not a treatment or therapy and participants are advised to see medical practitioners separately. By refining your movement capabilities and use of intention and attention, you can enjoy moving with ease and freedom.
How are they taught?
There are no physical exercises, machines or treatments. Sessions involve bodymapping, simple demonstrations and exploring simple activities. These include standing, walking or whatever kind of movement is problematic for you, to pinpoint your unconstructive movement patterns. By using a sensitive and very light touch I can also help you become more aware of certain tensions and holdings.
The learning process involves:
refining your self awareness to notice harmful habits
exploring what you learn in between classes
sharing and discussing your questions and discoveries
putting into practise what you have learnt
At the beginning of the session you are invited to comment on your findings and ask questions to follow your progress and adapt to your particular needs. Resource materiel is also available throughout the course.
How does it work?
Self exploratory learning is fundamental in understanding your issue. After all you have a lot of information about yourself that the teacher can never have. As you follow the course under the teacher's guidance, you will accumulate the tools that allow you to understand why you have your problem and how you can solve it. The course material will also uncover common misconceptions about posture, muscle strength, core muscles, strengthening and much more.
No previous anatomical knowledge is necessary and the emphasis is on how we function as a whole and less on learning about body parts.
It can be applied to personal issues or professional activities and used in training programs, retreats, school programs or physical well-being workshops.
NOTE: medical attention is always advocated when necessary
LearningMethods™ - Uncovering fixed ideas and misconceptions
Neuroscience has made enormous leaps in uncovering how, in fact, our way of thinking or our belief systems influence our physical and mental health. Such findings have supported the extensive empirical research of an Alexander Technique teacher called David Gorman. He set out to examine FM Alexander’s work more closely questioning how the primary control actually worked. What he discovered was a new model of human organisation which has become known as the Anatomy of Wholeness™ work.
Another aspect he was interested in was self-learning, hence the name, he gave to his work, LearningMethods.™ He describes how « a huge part of our chronic problems lay not in the 'body' but in our consciousness and habitual way of seeing things and how we misinterpret our daily experiences and then become caught in reaction to these misunderstandings.»
The aim of these sessions is to teach you a method to solve problematic issues in your life.
How is it taught?
They are mainly conversational with games to demonstrate certain principles. Through questioning your ideas you will begin to see how they affect your behaviour, habits and even your way of moving. It is very practical, in that from the very first session, you are invited to put your new knowledge into practice. The emphasis is on self learning and exploration with the guidance of a certified teacher. Resources are available throughout the course.
Many times we think we know what the problem is but fail to get rid of it, often making choices that keep us entrenched in our suffering. Feeling sad, frustrated or angry for example, are just symptoms of the underlying problem. (see blog) but in many cases we see these emotions AS the problem and set about trying to alleviate them. We become locked into a circle of habitual reactions that increase in strength until they lead to health problems and even more suffering. Yet, most of us have the necessary faculties to find a solution to our problems ourselves. We just don’t know how to use them.. yet.
With the teacher’s guidance the student learns to make sense of their situation or/and emotional reaction and see how they got caught up in the problem. Very often it is not at all what they suspected. By asking the relevant questions that reveal misconceptions, fixed ideas or false projections, the student deepens their understanding of themselves and the reality of the situation. They then have to act on this knowledge and make the necessary changes in their lives.
This work requires an active and complete engagement on the part of the participant with the close guidance of the teacher. Once the cause is discovered there is an opportunity to make changes and choices to improve the quality of your life. Workshops and individual sessions help you learn the necessary tools to accomplish this.
Teaching Alexander Technique to Children
F.M. Alexander sought to help teach people how to use his technique for themselves and be more independent. He saw his work as educational and with this in mind he set up a teacher training school in London in the 1930’s. Earlier in 1924 he founded The Little School for children helped by two of his assistants, Ethel Webb and Irene Tasker, who had also been trained by Maria Montessori in Italy. He felt most strongly that
if children retained their natural way of moving and avoided harmful tension
they would have a healthier, happier life. The technique was embedded in
the school’s education. Unfortunately with the onset of the second world
war the school was moved to USA and was never reestablished in UK.
Over the years the technique has not been attributed much to children
until 1994 when Sue Merry was invited to teach children in her local primary
school. She developed ways of integrating the Alexander Technique into the
school timetable and was so successful that she founded Educare Small
School in Kingston upon Thames UK in 1997.She has recently opened
training courses for Alexander Technique teachers to take the technique
into local primary and secondary schools in UK. Please see her sight for
The Benefits for Children
During their pre-school years, children move so freely and naturally yet when exposed to the rigors of school and modern living they begin to develop harmful habits such as slouching, tension in the neck and shoulders or excess effort in standing and sitting. There is a tendency in our school system to accentuate improving a childs cognitive ability neglecting his physical state as if it was separate. In fact our physical state responds to our way of thinking, our emotions and vice versa. For example, concentrating on a difficult mathematical problem generally results in muscular tension as you can see in this photo. Or, if you feel unwell you may feel unhappy or moody too.
Problems arise when patterns of tension or certain postures become habits. We are unaware of them as they are part of who we are. As time goes by we feel stiff or feel discomfort but not understanding the significance of these feelings, we continue our lives until the nagging pain becomes too serious to ignore.
Many injuries can be traced back to how we have moved and operated in our daily lives, habits that began in childhood. It is so simple to reverse the process before it becomes harmful which makes this technique relevant when it comes to educating children.