The Alexander Technique - Frequently Asked Questions
This page contains some of the most frequently asked questions about the Alexander Technique—and their answers. Contact Us if you have others, but remember that the only meaningful way to have your questions answered is by taking private lessons in the Technique, where they can be answered in full and at length.
You can have as many or as few Alexander lessons as you wish. The easing of aches and pains may not take very long, but learning to apply the Alexander Technique to your life - which is the main aim - takes much longer; it simply takes time to develop the necessary insight and understanding. Generally it takes 40 - 45 lessons to begin to be able to put the Technique into practice in your daily life. Meanwhile benefits accumulate as you go.Back to top
Ideally, you should have a lesson once a week in order to make steady progress. Your rate of progress will be slower if you attend fortnightly because it is more difficult to maintain the improvements gained in the previous lesson for two weeks rather than for oneBack to top
If progress were purely dependent on the work that the teacher did on you each week it would indeed be very slow. However, the Alexander Technique is something you learn, so in between lessons you work at applying the Technique to aspects of your daily life in ways suggested by your teacher. Gradually, it becomes something that you think about and put into practice all the time and not just in the lesson.Back to top
How do I go about learning the Alexander Technique? In a lesson it doesn't feel like I'm learning anything.
In lessons the teacher will work with you so that you can bring about an improvement in your balance and coordination; that is, giving you the experience of sitting and standing using less muscular effort than you are in the habit of using. Initially any improvement seems to be entirely due to the teacher's work on you. As you experience being upright with less effort in the lesson, you start noticing at other times how you pull yourself out of shape and you can let go. Gradually you recognise that you create such unnecessary tension in response to particular stimuli in your life, and then you can learn to change the way you respond. Progress is difficult to measure because it is not linear, it is more an expansion on a broad front, rather like inflating a balloon.Back to top
During a lesson you are worked on by the teacher almost continuously and as the teacher works to encourage you to let go of tensions that you are creating, he/she talks to you, explaining the Technique and relating it to your particular circumstances. It is not possible to work on two people at once. Also, if you are to effect real personal change in your life then the lessons must be geared to your specific needs and not to the more general needs of a group.Back to top
We learn activities like sitting, standing, walking and talking when we are very young, on a trial-and-error basis rather than a conscious basis. So things can begin to go wrong for us from a very early age, before we could possibly have Alexander lessons. Adults can make a conscious choice to have lessons based on wanting some particular change for themselves. Children are not in such a position to choose to have lessons; they would be brought by adults, perhaps even against their will. Occasionally we do teach children if they need special help, but we teach the accompanying parent as well.Back to top
The short answer is no! The Alexander Technique is concerned with individual change. In lessons you become aware of how you misuse yourself by pulling yourself out of shape and you learn how to maintain your poise and balance whatever the circumstances. You gain insight into ways in which you habitually create problems for yourself and learn to abandon this dependence on habit in favour of a conscious, reasoned and positive approach to life. That your posture improves in the process is a side effect, but not an aim in itself.Back to top
What the teacher is striving to do is to improve your coordination. In working with our hands we are encouraging you to let go of the tensions that you are creating which are pulling you out of shape. We have to do this very gently. This helps you to become aware of how and why you pull yourself out of shape, thus giving you the possibility of lasting change.Back to top
People come for Alexander Technique for as many different reasons as there are people and the Alexander Technique has something to say to all of them. They may be suffering specific symptoms ranging from headaches, sciatica, indigestion, loss of voice, osteoarthritis, slipped disc, irritable bowel syndrome, through to anxiety, high blood pressure, anorexia nervosa, agoraphobia, and stress. Some have less specific symptoms such as unnecessary fatigue, an inability to progress in a skill, general tension and immobility, bad posture, bad temper, depression, a lack of sense of well-being. Some come because of sports injuries or injuries sustained in car accidents or at work. Others suffer from chronic medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, M.E., osteoporosis and so on. However, the Alexander Technique is not primarily a therapy - although it can and does have significant therapeutic effects - nor is it a cure-all. People who come to lessons learn to put the Technique into practice in their lives with the intention of alleviating their problems or learning to cope with them better. All of them increase their potential through learning the Technique.Back to top