– Why do I need a teacher?
While the principles of the Alexander Technique are simple, the instruction, help and feedback from a trained Alexander teacher are invaluable in helping a student make progress much faster. F.M. Alexander worked out the principles of the Technique by spending years working on his own, with hundreds if not thousands of hours spent in self-observation in front of a mirror – working with a teacher can shorten that learning curve considerably!
– Why is it called a “lesson?”
Time spent with an Alexander teacher is called a lesson because the model for the Technique is educational, not therapeutic. Alexander lessons are not treatments; a person takes lessons to gain the skills and awareness needed to use the Technique for him- or herself in any life situation or circumstance. Simply put, the Alexander Technique enables you to learn to take care of yourself.
– What happens in a lesson?
A lesson usually includes what we call “table work” and “chair work.” Table work is done with the student lying down with the knees up and the head supported. Though it may resemble some forms of bodywork, and though it feels great, Alexander table work is not bodywork. It is a way of learning to become aware of the relationships within the body in a way that encourages lengthening, widening, and an overall connection and unity. The teacher encourages this awareness with verbal instruction and gentle, non-manipulative hands-on work that brings attention not only to the body but to the ways that we think about the body and direct ourselves, both in movement and at rest.
Chair work addresses these same issues as we stand and sit, and especially as we go from standing to sitting, and vice versa. The patterns and reflexes that are engaged in these movements are used in nearly everything we do, in one way or another. Chair work, as simple as it is in some ways, can be very challenging, and it can be a fascinating method of self-discovery. We can learn what it is that we’ve been doing unconsciously that’s been getting us into trouble, and we can learn to consciously find a better way.
– What does the teacher do?
Alexander teachers are trained to observe and sense patterns of tension and holding in a student. They are especially trained in the sensitivity and use of their hands, so that they can give the student a new experience of the freedom and ease that are available to them when old habits are disengaged and replaced with new, more constructive patterns.
– How many lessons does it take?
It depends on a student’s reason for having lessons. Some people have a course of lessons in order to address a particular issue, like back pain or neck pain, or because they want to improve their posture or relieve stress, and once they have found improvement, they come less often or stop altogether. Others continue to have lessons because in addition to improving their skills and awareness, lessons feel great, and are an enjoyable part of their lives. Still others come to see the Technique as a form of mindfulness work, and have lessons on an ongoing basis. The generally accepted number of lessons for a new student to gain a basic knowledge of the Technique, and to be able to reliably apply it on their own, is 25 to 30, depending on the student.
– What is the cost?
Lessons last around 60 minutes, and cost $60. Weekly lessons are highly recommended, as repetition of new experiences and new ways of thinking is very important, and will help you gain an understanding of the Technique much faster.
San Diego Alexander Technique with Alex Watts, AmSAT Certified Teacher.