“The Alexander Technique has been an eye-opener and I wish I had done it sooner.”
This is the 9th interview in a series of interviews I carried out with people who have had Alexander Technique (AT) lessons. This interview is with Tanya (real name changed for confidentiality).
Tanya started out with weekly lessons and gradually spread them out and at the time of our interview was having them monthly. Tanya has also attended two workshops on running.
Here are some of the benefits Tanya told me she gained through learning the Alexander Technique:
Tanya also said she improved mentally, which she did not expect.
I asked Tanya a few simple questions about her experience learning the technique and here are her answers:
I knew about the Alexander Technique from an early age when I started riding and someone suggested I tried AT lessons to support my riding. I didn’t take the suggestion up till much later when I had more time. The first thing I remember about the benefit of those lessons was that a longstanding shoulder injury, that I had tried to sort out in many ways, eased.
I also learned not to get “in the way of the horse” and not to give it false signals.
I started lessons again as I developed a neurological disease which affects my neck and one side. My physiotherapist is excellent, and has given me daily physiotherapy exercises (PT) to do. Unfortunately I developed shoulder and neck spasms whilst doing the exercises. I hoped that having AT lessons would ease that and also that I would be able to continue to exercise.
It is important to do the PT exercises because without them I cannot walk. However, I gained a whole lot more than I expected to.
With the disease I have, it (Alexander Technique) has been transformative. I am almost evangelical about it.
I can do much more now than I could do before.
It decreased pain, improved my sleep, PT now is mentally less straining.
I do a lot of PT exercises eg sit-stand, stand-sit, balancing on 1 leg. Together with my teacher we “AT-it.”
I don’t need to mentally beat myself or look at the PT exercises with dread (which I used to do) when I apply AT. AT complements PT.
Running: I did jog prior to returning to AT but my whole way of running changed via the running workshop. I learned (from the teaching and a video of me that was done on the course) that my weight was all in the wrong place when I put my foot down.
The workshop helped me with my breathing, posture and generally how I move.
I did not expect the changes in running. I used to loath and dread running. I used to be fighting for breath. I had not an ounce of serenity. I do not feel each breath now. I do get sweaty. However it is easier. It is not torturous.
Now I can run more than twice as far compared to before. I have increased from a 5K jog to a 10K run within 2 months and I am only 3 minutes “slower” than the normal person doing a 10K. This is unusual for someone with my problem.
AT is more than I expected.
Pain in my shoulder eased after the first session. Pain often goes completely. It can come back especially if my shoulder tries to “help” again. I know how to manage it. I know when to back off and when to push it. I now have an awareness of what is causing it.
I have to do exercises to fatigue in order to maximise the neuroplastic changes that happen with exercise. I do anything that can help with neuroplasticity. I do the daily PT to make my body do things it currently cannot do.
Now I am knackered at the end of doing exercise but I know I have done “good quality” exercises.
I find I am able to do exercises for longer
I use all sorts of things from the Alexander technique to help the exercises such as “being in the moment” and being aware of the effects on my body. I use 3 or 4 things to help with exercise and walking. It’s not like the “centipede thing.”
The amount of difference it has made was unexpected. It is a different way of thinking of the body.
Active rest: I do active rest on my own at night, daily but it doesn’t feel quite the same as having table work sessions (active rest) with my teacher. It feels very self indulgent. My body feels very nice afterwards. I feel as if I am treating myself. It feels soothing, refreshing, grounding and peaceful. An element carries over from the active rest with my teacher. That sense of resting. It even carries over into my running which feels relaxed and effortless rather than trying too hard.
We have habits, and a certain way of doing things that we have done for so long like standing chopping vegetables, making tea and picking things up. It is a way that has evolved. We have not realised how. Turns out it is not the best way. It is not skilful. AT is skilful. It is fundamental. It is the best way of doing things.
We need to be more aware and think more. Rather than faster, harder, longer.
With AT we work smarter not harder. We work in a way that is much more skilful.
The AT way is
more connected to self
a more pleasant way to do whatever you do whether it is in activity or inactivity
Alexander technique has been a blessing. However, it is useful for an awful lot more people. AT is respected but everyday people don’t realise it is beneficial and it could help with anything you need to use your body for.
What I would say to anybody is…book a lesson, just go, learn what you can do if you stop getting in the way of yourself, learn what your body can do and what it can do if you learn to use it well.
If you would like to learn the Alexander Technique and find out how it might help for you, please contact me or give me a ring and book a lesson.
Alexander Technique Teacher