ME & THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
Coming together again
As a child I had always been active, moving freely most of my time, enjoying dancing, climbing, swimming etc. Since my early school years and through my ballet, gymnastics classes it was obvious that my body was genuinely flexible in a way that allowed me to perform contortion tricks others would hard work to achieve. I used this feature as a talent throughout my youth but it was not until a lot later when I found out I have what is called Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
I started performing at school and became a professional performer at age 17 in singing, acting, aerial acrobatics and stilts. From age 15 I started experiencing problems with my body that doctors did not know how to treat e.g. achilles tendonitis, therefore I was looking for a way to exercise that would not make me feel tired or stressed and to help me find my natural strength and find peace within myself. In the search for this, I found Tai Chi and Qi Gong, and through the regular practice of these I managed to find a way of healing my tendonitis and alleviating stress. At the age of 29 I became a qualified instructor and started teaching.
Being influenced by this holistic mind/body approach to movement and being a performer myself, I was drawn by Butoh's unique coaching for performers, which keep the dialog with my inner self while performing for an audience, how to explore different experience of performing time and qualities and how to condense the energy, keeping the balance between giving outwards and connecting inwards
However, my professional career later required me to partake in much more demanding types of performance and in a stressful way, (during for example the days of the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, where I was performing theatre on stilts for 8 hours for 15 days) which caused injuries such as broken ribs, bunions etc. Not wanting to take the time to heal and guided by doctors, I instead took anti inflammatory medication which in addition to stress factors, caused the development of lupus SLE (an autoimmune disease).
The doctors were unable to help me, but I did find some relief (although not a cure) through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). However, to be able to put up with my performing demands, I had to visit regularly chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists in order to get physically in balance again. Believing that one should not need a constant external aid to maintain the optimum physical and mental health, I was thrilled when starting Alexander Technique lessons showed me a way to live without this constant readjustment. The effects of the continuous practice technique on my life inspired me to train as a teacher. During my training, my lupus symptoms disappeared, to the doctor's surprise, but I believe this was a direct consequence of the practice of the technique.
It is my firm belief that stress (in all levels), which is not kept in safe distance, can cause disharmony in all levels. I owe the Alexander Technique the skill I learned that enables me to observe the way stress is triggered in my system and allows me to consciously process it without losing my integrity. I look forward to sharing this life transformative process with all who can understand it's value.
The Alexander Technique is a skill for self-development, based on a concept of the inseparability of mind, body and emotions (we call this psychophysical unity). Whatever your age or ability, the Technique can help boost your performance in any activity and relieve the pain and stress.
It is a method for identifying habitual patterns of use (nervous responses) and through the guidance of the teacher’s hands, learning to release these and relearn more efficient ways to use ourselves.
The Alexander Technique assist the pupils to consciously re-educate the nervous system and improve the use of all aspects of themselves. By learning how to connect our mind with our body and it’s anatomical structure, and the freedom of our breath, we achieve effortless movement and enjoy physical vitality with a calm, aware and centered state of mind.
“The way we think of something, influences how we use it.”
IS IT FOR ME ?
Everyone regardless of their age benefits from an Alexander Technique lesson. The lesson usually includes a lying down hands on session, during which the pupil has a chance to release daily tensions and recover the spine’s full length. The teacher’s hands provide feedback for the neuromuscular system that can guide the pupil towards recognizing their patterns of misuse and teach them how to approach new means and improve their use and condition.
EFFORTLESS LIVING FOR EVERYONE
The Alexander Technique aims at awakening the sensory mechanisms and reconnecting one’s thinking with the body. By perceiving the way the body is supported by its anatomy and by recognising our automatic postural habits, we re- educate the nervous system to be able to stop any misuse and release unnecessary tensions.
Becoming a Better You
Finding a new way to move with Ease
Improve vocal / breathing issues
Release stress and manage anxiety
Enhance Performance in Arts and Sports
The Alexander Technique is a great help in the recovery, improvement and prevention of :
Neck pain, RSI
Lower Back pain, knee problems
Headaches, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Living with Disabilities
For actors, singers, dancers, acrobats and athletes the body is their performing instrument. The Alexander Technique helps maintaining a good condition of coordination of the body and mind.
For all professional performers and athletes the Alexander Technique helps to improve their skills, avoid performance related ailments and manage stress levels during performance, resulting in better use of themselves and their instrument.
During F.M.Alexander's life many scientists endorsed his method, recognising that Alexander’s practical observations were consistent with scientific discoveries in neurology and physiology. The most eminent of these was Sir Charles Sherrington, today considered the father of modern neurology.
Another Nobel Laureate, Nikolaas Tinbergen, who won the prize for “physiology or medicine” in 1973, dedicated a significant part of his Nobel acceptance lecture to the work of Alexander. You can watch his speech here.
Many doctors, including Peter MacDonald, who later became chairman of the BMA, were advocates of his work and sent patients to him. In 1939, a large group of physicians wrote to the British Medical Journal urging that Alexander’s principles be included in medical training. See more scientific evidence Here.
Learning how to avoid back pain due to many hours of wrong sitting in the office.
Acquire Freedom of movement, Clearing the mind and Freedom of Voice and Breathing.
improve your use throughout the demanding professional tasks (such as public speaking, intense performing demands)
Together with a recognition of our functional limits and the way to improve them, the Alexander technique guides us towards a state of being that empowers us and enables us to be more and more independent in our choices of means of action. In this way, we gain a clearer awareness on how to remain centred in ourselves when in demanding situations and avoid the negative effects of stress.
In addition to teaching pupils how to use themselves better I also advise them how to practically adjust their working environment so that it can support a proper use of themselves while working.
MUSCULOSCELETAL INJURIES & CONDITIONS
No matter the ailment or injury present, the Alexander Technique helps the person meet, perceive and use their own body in a new way.
By connecting this new skills of perception with conscious awareness the use of one's self evolves. When injuries have caused temporary disability, the Alexander Technique teaches how to turn every possibility of movement into a self- physiotherapy session!
Fractures in bones, strained or torn ligaments, tendons and muscles can recover faster, with less or no need for medication and without remaining problems in the person's movement after recovery.
Alexander lessons enable people with knee osteoarthritis to reduce inappropriate muscle activation and therefore reduce their pain and disability.
Through teaching the Alexander Technique I help people with disabilities can benefit and achieve an easier use of the body through movement. By respecting and acknowledging the limits in a person's motion, the purpose is to help the pupil be in good terms with themselves as whole.
Having frequent Alexander Technique lessons can speed up the recovery process after an injury and can work well alongside physiotherapy sessions.
In the case of disabilities the way is to meet the anatomical situation as it is and through the acceptance of its uniqueness give the mind and the body the time and space to breathe and release.
Depending on the condition, different movement games are practiced, and with the Teacher's help, the pupil can have a new experience of their own weight and use of gravity. Though the process of the lesson new connections develop that create new neurological pathways and open new possibilities of sensory appreciation.
The Alexander Technique has been greatly recognised for the improvement it can bring about in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. For detailed studies on the effects of the Alexander Technique in Parkinson's see Here.
''It [the AT] bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other human activities.''
John Dewey (The Use of the Self, p. 12)
The Alexander Technique is a wonderful way to prevent misuse in Children, increase their ability to focus and avoid back pain from carrying heavy bags and slouching on chairs at school.
As the demands are high in performance in all levels of education and stress comes early, it is important that children avoid developing psychophysical habits that alienate them from an awareness of how they use themselves.
Hypermobility is a connective tissue condition (usually inherited) in which the body’s collagen is more elastic than the ‘norm’, leading to increased flexibility. For some people, notably musicians, gymnasts, dancers and sports people, this natural flexibility gives a very useful advantage, though it leaves them more prone to injuries such as sprains and dislocations. In others it can cause clumsiness, lack of spatial awareness and joint pain.
Sometimes hypermobility can lead to debilitating chronic pain, known as Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS) / Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).
In cases of severe EDS-HM the Alexander Technique may work best alongside a structured exercise programme to gently build strength and stamina. The two work very well together.
As I have hEDS myself and have a personal experience of how the AT work can improve this condition in a regular basis. I am a professional member of HMSA and work with people within the Hypermobility Syndromes Didorder Spectrum.
For more information on EDS-HM please visit the Hypermobility Syndromes Association.