Question and Answers

How does the Alexander Technique differ from other mind/bodywork systems?

The Alexander Technique is often called a pre-technique as it does not propose exercises as in Yoga or Pilates for example.It is a method for heightening awareness, soothing the nervous system, learning to release muscles and improving overall balance and co-ordination, allowing you bring more understanding to and receive more benefit from such exercise classes or any other activity. The improved coordination helps dealing with pain and stress related problems.

Is it possible to learn the Alexander Technique from a book?

It may be helpful to read a book on the Technique so as to be acquainted with the principles but the hands on guidance received during lessons with a teacher are an essential part of the change and re-learning process and also ensures that we are not mislead by what we think and feel about ourselves.   As Alexander himself discovered when trying to explain his work words are not precise enough to convey the complex and subtle workings of the human organism.

What does it involve to become an Alexander Teacher?

Before deciding to enrol in a training course, it is necessary to have enough experience of the Alexander Technique through individual lessons, preferably with more than one teacher.  The training to become a teacher takes a minimum of three years in a recognised school, 1600 hours during four days a week being the minimum requirement.

My wrist hurts when I use the P.C. do I have to stop or reduce using it whilst I undergo a treatment with the Alexander Technique.

The Alexander Technique is not a treatment and does not aim to treat the part of you that is suffering. During Alexander lessons attention will be given to use of the self as a whole and a new way of being and moving developed. Because it is often practically impossible, you will not be asked to stop or reduce working on the P.C., but you will be asked to apply what you have learned in the Alexander lessons whilst working. With a new and improved use of the self, pains stresses, tensions and injuries due to repetitive strain developed during wrong use will eventually disappear of their own accord.

How can the Alexander Technique help my golf game to be more consistent?

The mental preparation for movement, which you will learn with the Alexander Technique, will allow you to be more in control and more yourself so that a good stroke will be down to you, rather than a hap-hazard stroke of luck when you happened to find favourable conditions and are unaware of what these were and therefore unable to repeat them when you wish to.

When I attend professional meetings I experience difficulty in expressing myself because I get too nervous. How can the Alexander Technique help me?

With the aid of the Alexander Technique you will learn to create more calm in yourself and control the tension pattern associated with the moment of speaking, so that you will gain more confidence to overcome the critical moment.

When I go the Museum, I can’t stand for very long without hurting in my neck, can you help me?

Yes, with the Alexander Technique you will learn to stand and walk keeping the spine lengthened and the whole body framework fully expanded so as not to compress the neck vertebrae.

How does one become skillful?

Your question is too general. Could you please send me an e-mail and relate the question to your own aspirations? I will be glad to give you an answer. Now, having said that and on a very general plane, to become more skillful or to improve performance means application of principles allowing for improving first of the general neuro-muscular coordination and then of the specific requirements of a technique or an art. There is not point, unless you have a lot of time to waste, to try again and again and to reapeat over and over the same conditons which are responsible for your difficulty. You need to stop and reconsider completely the means involved and the conditions required for a clear aim. The Alexander Technique offers one way to deal with that.

Does Alexader’s theory on balance help in the game of golf ?

Yes Alexander’s principles are very useful for golfers. Learning to get rid of unecessary tensions before and during movement will help the  golfer to find the natural balance he will need to be able to use successfully his technical knowledge. Alexander has devoted a small chapter on the use of the eyes by golfers in his book ‘The Use fo the Self’.

what is the normal exhalation and inhalation duration(in seconds respectively) in a single breath for a average adult

The length of the breathing depends on the characteristics of the person and of what he is doing. We cannot talk of ‘normal duration in seconds of exhatlation and inhalation.’  A breathing reference for a given person could be the rythm of breathing during a calm healthy sleep in an appropriate environment and temperature with which we could then compare his other forms of breathing.

I have learnt the wispered ah as part of the Alexander Technique. I personally find it very useful, at least when done properly. However, you state that no breathing exercices are part of the Alexander Technique. Is the whispered ah part of the AT? Can breathing exercises help to free our neck and Co.?

I will try to clarify for you what I mean when I say that we don’t teach breathing exercises in the Alexander Technique. But before that: yes the whispered ah is taught in the Alexander Technique. Is there any contradiction there? I don’t think so because of the difference of aim between what we call commonly breathing exercises and the whispered ah. Usually breathing exercises are done to improve breathing. People expect from them direct results. I don’t say that this apply for breathing exercises as taught within certain traditional or esoteric techniques where the pupils follow a long and different path than what you find usually in classes in the West.
You don’t start with the whispered ah. The whispered ah is a procedure in the Alexander Technique which is taught when the pupil is using himself sufficently well as to be able to start with the whispered ah without loosing his overall coordination, which includes already an improved breathing. Then yes the whispered ah will help improve the breathing even more, but more than anything else it will help getting rid of the preconveived ideas about breathing and allow in its turn to give even better directions to oneself and improve the use of the neck and head,and so on. I hope my answer is clear for you. Regards.
See also Thinking Aloud, by Walter Carrington, chapters on Breathing and whispered ahs.

If I practice yoga seriously, will I be releived of bad posture, depression, and start feeling better about it all?

You are not on a site on yoga. This is a site devoted to the Alexander Technique. Having said that, when we practice anything  seriously many improvements take place. But what does seriously mean? When you go seriously into something, it means that you have to be completely open in order to be able not to rely on habitual patterns of thought of movement in order to do new procedures. And this is not obvious. It is not difficult, but it is not obvious, because we have to use ourselves in order to change ourselves. You can chose yoga or any approach, it does not matter. You will be still be using yourself while practicing yoga. So what is important is not what you practice, but how you practice, with which attitude, and which aim in mind, for what purpose. If you expect everything from yoga nothing will happen, because yoga does not exist, you create it. If you expect everything from yourself, everything becomes possible. And then yoga will be beneficial for you.

Can I learn with the Alexander Technque to release the muscles of the larynx in singing ?

The application of the principles of the Alexander Technique in the various activities of daily life will teach you how to release the throat during any activity and how to apply it then in singing, which is only a specific application of the use of oneself.

Is the Alexander Technique beneficial for singers?

The Alexander Technique is well known for its benefits for the voice.
Its application brings an adjustment of the vocal apparatus which makes changes and improvements easier and brings the voice under better control. Singing teachers often send pupils for Alexander Technique lessons in order to improve their breathing, posture, voice, to learn to deal with stress and the conditons necessary to face change and corrections.

What are the basics on alexander technique that improves your stand, walk, sit and the way you speak?

The very basic fundamental requirement to function properly and be able to stand, walk, sit and speak, among other things, without harming yourself is to have an adequate relationship with the attraction of the earth (gravity). It means that the orientation of our body within (between its differents parts) and outside itself (with the environement) must be optimal. This, in the Alexander Technique, we stimulate consciously by learning to make sure that our head is free in relation to our neck, our back, and our limbs. So the starting point is to prevent a fixing of the head in relation to the neck before, during and after any reaction or movement. This requires a ot of attention at the beginning, so that it can become a conscious habit to secure this state of conscious control in activity of the whole organism.

I am 27 years old and I was hospitalized and I discovered that I have an important hernia on L4-L5. Since then I have done kiné and backshool but it goes slightly better. I read that Alexander technique is “deconseillé” for discal hernia, is it true?

The application of the Alexander Technique principles and practical procedures leads you to more freedom of movement and habitual patterns of reactions, and I doubt that it would be worse for a
discal hernia unless it has reached a stage where an operation is urgent.

I had a horrendous migraine, with hallucinations and severe neck pains, dizzines, vertigo… BPV. 12 doctors gave me different possible causes. Mostly, that the migraine was the cause. I knew it had to be the neck. Finally, an osteopath in Brussels told me that the problem came from tension in the neck, laterals and cervicals which compressed the cranial aorta. I continue treatment but am very interested to know your views on the benefits of your treatments /program for somebody with my ‘tension’: Symptoms, bad equilibrium, some dizziness, neck and shoulder ache, cracking inside ears and migraines…..etc! Thank you.

Unles I see you I cannot tell you for sure how much you can be helped by applying the Alexander Technique. Nevertheless, I have some experience with people suffering from tensional migraine and know  I can help. Best regards.