Recently in Alexander Technique Category

Holiday Dates

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Holiday Time!

I will be taking a break from teaching over the festive season:
Lunchtime Sat 22nd Dec. - resuming teaching Thursday 3rd Jan.   

Next Introductory Workshop will be held on 20th January to celebrate 
F M Alexander's 150th Birthday 
Watch this space for further details



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Don't forget to keep up with the AT over the holidays!

You might like to try lying down with your feet resting on a chair for a change. It's a good way to help your legs and lower back free-up and a useful variation of position you can use for the Active Rest procedure. 

Successful 'Stress? Take it Lying Down' event

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Stress? Take it Lying Down 

We recently ran a very successful event for Alexander Technique Week 2018, the theme of which was 'Stress? Take it Lying Down'. I am very grateful to The Old Church N16 as they kindly allowed me to use the premises for free, as we were fundraising for the local charity Safaplace. I also want to thank my colleague Jessamy Harvey, for all her help in setting up and running the event.

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Over forty people enjoyed lying down in Semisupine!                 Photo: Nell Greenhill

The Church looked beautiful and very atmospheric with all the candles and low lighting! We were fortunate to have two speakers from Safaplace, Sarah Finke and Rose White who gave moving accounts about the formation of the charity and why it was set up in order to promote the positive mental health of schoolchildren. 

I then described how the Alexander Technique can help us cope with stress as well as helping us be more poised and how the AT explores the mind-body relationship, helping us to unlearn habits we've developed that can interfere with the way our bodies need to work.

Caroline Sears followed with a talk about Alexander in Education and how the AT has been introduced into over 80 schools and colleges in the UK and in many institutions around the world, helping students handle exam and performance stresses, for instance.

Then it was lie-down time and The Old Church was full of quiet bodies as Natasha Broke talked people through the Active Rest procedure. Along with the teachers already mentioned, Daniela Sangiorgio and Thodoris Ziarkas joined us to give people a brief hands-on experience whilst lying down. All the teachers assisting on this event are registered with STAT and are alumni of LCATT, an AT teacher training course where I am a visiting teacher.

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Six AT teachers gave mini taster sessions                                    Photos: Nell Greenhill

Finally, we gave some mini taster hands-on turns to those that wished to explore the AT a little more and the bar was open for people to enjoy.  

Many thanks to Janet Foster who looked after the door, the friends who ran the bar and helped out and Nell Greenhill for taking the photos - all of whom, like the AT teachers, offered their time and services for free.

Donations to Safaplace

I am pleased to say that we raised over £423 for Safaplace - thanks to the generosity of all the participants!  

If you would like to read more about Safaplace and / or would like to donate to them, you can do so here: https://safaplace.org/

Stress? Take it Lying Down. Candlelit Event

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Stress? Take it Lying Down
11 October 7.0pm ~ The Old Church Stokey N16

Candlelit event in London's only surviving Elizabethan Church

I am running this event with four AT colleagues, as part of International Alexander Technique Week 2018. Jessamy Harvey, Caroline Sears, Natasha Broke and Daniela Sangiorgio all trained at LCATT where I am a visiting teacher. The event is also fundraising for local charity Safaplace, which was formed to promote the positive mental health of children in Stoke Newington School and in the local area. 


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  • Come and hear about Safaplace charity
  • Learn how the Alexander Technique can help you manage stress
  • Experience the wonderful Active Rest procedure 
  • Try a mini hands-on turn with one of the 4 local AT teachers
  • Support Safaplace by your generous donations 

Tickets

SOLD OUT! However, we have a waiting list, so do book a free place below and we will contact you if tickets become available.

This is a 14+ event. Get your free tickets from Eventbrite, with suggested donations on the day to Safaplace, at entry and at the bar (yes, there will be a bar, run by kind volunteers!): 

Safaplace on the BBC

There is an interesting article about the sad reasons behind the formation of Safaplace on the BBC website. If you cannot attend this event, you might like to make a donation to Safaplace:  https://bbc.in/2NY8AkH


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Alexander Technique Intro Courses

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* Six Week Course for Beginners & Returners
Mondays: 10 September- 15 October ~  10.15am - 11.45am

Earlybird Fee by 20 August: £80 ~ Later Payment: £90
Hilary will be assisted by Jessamy Harvey MSTAT. 

Complete beginners need to have attended an Intro Workshop or had a 1:1 lesson before joining this Course.

NEARLY FULL - please phone to see if places are available: 020 7254 9206


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Small friendly group please enrol in advance - Further Info and Booking 

Venue overlooking Clissold Park:
3 Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Stoke Newington, N16 OBF




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Clissold Park Tennis Pavilion

The Club Room has a lovely view over Runtzmere Lake and the woodland area by Queen Elizabeth's Walk Gate.

Why I Trained as an Alexander Teacher

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The Ballet Years

I had lessons in classical ballet from the age of 5 and serious training began from the age of 11 when I became a boarder at the Royal Ballet School. It was sometimes wildly exciting and it was great to visit the Royal Opera House, sometimes sitting in the Royal Box during rehearsals! But life was very pressurised and quite stressful - I was put on diets to slim down and I acquired strains to my achilles and lower back, as I tried (too) hard to increase my flexibility. My body was always under examination and deemed to be lacking and, looking back, I can understand that it didn't seem to belong to me. However, in my late teens I was accepted into the Sadler's Wells Opera Ballet (now ENO) where I happily performed for a number of years. I met my opera-singer husband and first heard about the Alexander Technique there but sadly did not have AT lessons then as they would have helped me.


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Hilary King performing with Sadlers Wells Opera, Welsh National Opera and BBC TV 

Build-up of Stress

Rolling on some years, I gave up dancing so that I could be where my husband worked 
(as women still tended to do back then). I had children, got divorced and then my ex moved abroad. I needed to re-train so I could earn some money. I studied for a degree majoring in Psychology and was in one of the last groups of people that were truly fortunate to be able to study for free. 

The degree was hard to do as a mature student and single parent with 2 small children - then my mother died suddenly of a heart attack. Life had become extremely stressful and I was concerned that if I went on my health would deteriorate and I would end up like my mother.

Then I discovered that one of my Psychology lecturers, Peter Ribeaux, also taught the Alexander Technique at college, so I dived in and took AT lessons. I began to gain tools that I could use to calm myself down and clear my head. I studied better, got better marks and was less cranky with my long-suffering children. Learning and using the lying down procedure in particular helped transform me, as it gave me an immediate tool to help myself with. The AT work also helped me with my old back strain and I learned to listen to my body, 'regaining' it and discovering what it needed, rather than my just trying to make it perform for me - as I had been trained to do all through those ballet years. 

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Semi-Supine Emergency Kit!

I gained my degree - just missing a first - which was sad but also wonderful, as I'd not even had any A levels, because ballet dancers were not deemed to have brains in those days and we did not have that option at the RBS. I then explored the idea of training in dance therapy and did some psychotherapy training but finally decided to train as an Alexander teacher, because I was so impressed by the hugely beneficial changes that had come about in me through having AT lessons. 

I commenced my training at the Ribeaux school and completed it at the North London Teacher Training Course run by Misha Magidov, qualifying in 1987. I have had many happy years of teaching and am very grateful that I've been able to work in such a wonderful discipline that helps me look after myself in both my my mind and body, as I teach others how to do the same.



Privacy Policy

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GDPR and Privacy

With the introduction of new laws re Privacy and Data Protection, I have introduced an improved Privacy Policy and a basic version of it is now accessible on my website. 

At the moment I am still refining this policy, along with information about Cookies and Terms and Conditions. This information will soon be completed and will also be available on my website. 

You may read my Privacy Policy here.

Walk With Awareness on Slippery Paths

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Use the Alexander Technique While You Walk

Winter brings rain, fallen leaves, ice and sometimes snow on the ground, which can make our footpaths very slippery and treacherous. 


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Icy Newington Green

You can see how quickly snow compacts into slippery ice, here on Newington Green - making it so easy to skid, slide and lose your balance, if you are not careful.

Observe Your Reactions and Walk Mindfully

How do you cope with slippery surfaces and paths? If you are aware, you can notice your reactions as you think of going out into the cold - do you start becoming tense at the mere thought of icy conditions? Perhaps you can say 'no' to bracing and choose not to do that, so that you can avoid building up unnecessary tension. Observe how you walk on slippery surfaces and experiment by relaxing and being thoughtful about how you move - and you may well experience a different, easier way of walking on slippery surfaces so you feel more secure and confident.

Try Ice Grippers on Your Boots

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Adding ice grippers to your footwear is a practical aid to helping you cope with icy condititions. They make it much easier to balance and to avoid tensing up if you have a fear of falling. 

I know from my own experience that it is very tempting to tighten up our legs, feet and ankles, the muscles around our hip joints and even our neck and shoulder muscles when walking on slippery surfaces. Most of the tightening is the result of anticipating a possible fall and this can be tiring plus restricts our movements and circulation - and it's a waste of energy! 

Say 'No' to Bracing!

We really don't need to brace 'just in case' we might slip and fall. This doesn't serve us. In fact, tightening our neck muscles reduces the information we can obtain about our balance, and locking our ankles and hips also interferes with our ability to fine tune our balance. A recent Research Trial concluded that Alexander Technique lessons aided older people with their balance and fear of falling, so that they felt more secure. 



I remember an occasion when I was walking tentatively on an icy pavement and I was gradually getting very tight muscles around the tops of my legs - then a teenage girl sprinted down the icy road in front of me with beautiful grace and freedom of movement. Seeing her easy running skills reminded me to keep freeing up my neck muscles and my whole body as I moved and I felt a lot more comfortable as a result! When we do this, we are able to obtain more information about our balance, not only from the structures in our ears but also from the tiny movements our heads make as we walk and the AT can help us to do this. It is always helpful to walk mindfully but it is particularly important when paths are slippery.  

If you would like to try out the AT, 1:1 Alexander Technique lessons are available on a regular basis. 

Reaching Up and Bending Down

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Harvest Time!

Even in my London garden, there are fruits to be picked and enjoyed at this time of year and as I have been doing just that, I've been aware of how necessary it is to think of my body-use whilst harvesting. Just how do I climb my apple tree and look up to see where I need to reach for fruit, whilst looking after my neck? How do I bend down to look under the leaves of raspberry plants to search for the often hidden little balls of sweetness, or pick up windfalls from the grass whilst looking after my back?

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Looking Up and Reaching to Search for Apples

It is one thing to look at something above our heads for a quick moment and it is fairly easy to do this mindfully and freely, so that we can maintain as much length in the neck and spine as possible. However it is altogether harder to maintain our balance and some freedom in our neck muscles if we are spending a prolonged period of time looking up, as when picking apples, birdwatching, or painting a ceiling, for instance. 

There are always apples that are out of reach - and awkward corners of rooms that can be tricky to get into when you want to paint them! It can be tempting to end-gain and just get on with the job as fast as possible, forgetting to look after ouselves. These situations illustrate when using the Alexander Technique can be so valuable, as we can use it to be aware of our body-use and remind ourselves not to over-reach, or tighten and compress the neck. Continually over-using one set of muscles creates uncomfortable tension and leads to patterns of mis-use, so it helps if we frequently allow our heads to change position and come back to a more ordinary poised stance, for a while, in order to consciously allow the neck muscles to free up and lengthen out again.  

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Gardening Requires Lots of Bending Down! Monkey Position to the Rescue

Of course we bend down at all sorts of times in order to put shoes on, or pick up toys from the floor etc but in gardening we often have to spend a prolonged period of time bending over whilst working at tasks such as weeding. Being mindful about the way we bend is important, so that we can protect our necks, avoid getting back pain and maintain a good balance during our movements. 

For people who've had AT lessons, learning how to 'Inhibit' or stop, can sometimes be quite tricky and they may ask 'Why are we having to do this?'  Well, it is an invaluable concept and when we use it during our daily activities, we give ourselves a very brief pause before starting a task or making different type of movement, which allows us the chance to choose how to do something, so we can avoid getting into old habits that mess us up. 

To illustrate - rather than bending forwards with my old habit of curling over, which used to compress my spine and torso, I can pause briefly and remind myself to hinge from the hip joints, so that I fold forwards with a lengthened spine and a body that is able to move and breathe freely. In this way I am also utilising the AT procedure which F M Alexander called 'the position of mechanical advantage' but is now nick-named 'monkey position'. This is a movement that comes quite naturally to children and we use it in a variety of ways, using a deep version to reach the floor, or a very slight angling forwards over a wash basin with the knees slightly bent whilst cleaning our teeth, for instance - and it's so much more comfortable for our backs! The woman in the photo above is using an adaptation of the monkey position, in order to check out the lawnmower. 


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Semisupine Active Rest Lets Our Spine Decompress

It is also a really good idea to lie down in the semisupine position at the end of doing such activities, so that we can allow our spines - and whole body - to decompress and to free up.

Applying the Alexander Technique to Our Everday Activities

When I teach, I spend a lot of time helping students to learn how to sit, stand and walk freely, in the manner of traditional Alexander Technique lessons. Students can then transfer this learning into other activities and they learn some specific procedures like Monkey and Active Rest procedures. However, some people wonder how to use everything they learn out in the 'real world' and make the AT a tool they can use throughout life.

Therefore, as part of the lesson, I will sometimes explore different activities with pupils, so that they can think about how to apply and include the AT into their thinking whilst performing these. Recently, one student thought about how to do exercises the physio had given her, another couple explored how to use a mouse and keyboard, another fine tuned how to play a guitar, one tried moving a table differently and - a new one to me - one explored how to bend over in order to clean the bath! 

The important words here are 'how to'.  When we include the 'how' into our awareness and, if necessary, change the way in which we perform actions, we can begin to recover from conditions such as back pain or RSI. Such a relief!

Remember

STOP
THINK
CHOOSE HOW TO RESPOND


This short video of  the lying down procedure was produced by the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, STAT:    https://youtu.be/NhxMNou1Tfo

LieDownDay 9 October

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International Alexander Awareness Week 2017 9-15 October EVENTS

EVENT 1: Free Lying Down Day Workshop 9 Oct ~ Now Ended. 

EVENT 2: The first 6 people that contacted me have had a FREE 1/2 hour semisupine table-turn during IAAW week! 
Chill out and relax with the SemiSupine Lying Down Procedure, something that you can use throughout your life.

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EVENT 3: One Reduced Rate 3/4 hour private lesson at £30.
Available during October to participants of the workshop and to those having a table-turn session. Bring your diary....


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EVENT 4
Small Group Introductory Course:  30 October ~ 20 November ~ £60
Four Mondays: 1.30 - 3.00pm 
Limited Places so please enrol in advance 

Some Benefits of Learning First Aid

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First Aid as CPD


Over the 30 years I have been teaching, I have attended several short First Aid courses and recently took part in a full day Emergency First Aid at Work Course with Siren Training, which was organised by The Old Church where I act as a volunteer (thank you very much!). Fortunately I have never yet been in a situation where I have needed to use First Aid.  Usefully, First Aid can also be seen as part of my Continuing Professional Development as an Alexander Teacher. Not all Alexander teachers have done First Aid and I would like to encourage them to do so, as I came away feeling reassured and confident that I know more about what to do in an emergency and can better care for any vulnerable AT pupils. 


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So Why Might I Need First Aid?


Some students that come for Alexander lessons are at risk of having diabetic or epileptic seizures, some may be prone to fainting, whilst elderly pupils may be more vulnerable to having heart attacks for instance - and accidents can happen any time. Knowing what to do under such circumstances will help both me and my pupils, should needs arrise. Of course everything I've learned on the First Aid course can be transferred to helping anyone who needs such care, so it will also be valuable when I'm involved with local community activities. With our health service increasingly under pressure, I do feel reassured that I am more likely to be able to help someone until one of our brilliant NHS Paramedics arrive.


The range of topics covered during the First Aid at Work course can be seen on the certificate below and cover most of the situations that I could come across in my work. These courses have a big experiential and hands-on content, so I came out with some very practical skills but I did also have to take a very short written test, in oder to get the qualification - that was a surprise and it was the first I've done for many years!


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First Aid for All?


It would be great to have every Alexander Teacher doing some training in First Aid. These courses offer knowledge and skills I believe we should all have - but I hope we never need to use them! 


In fact I would like to see First Aid taught throughout the country in schools and colleges so that everyone, eventually, gains at least basic First Aid skills.