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Alexander Technique Can Help With Hypermobility

Shoulder Pain and Tension

I came to Hilary two years ago when I developed an intense shoulder pain playing the violin. I simply had not noticed how much tension I was putting into my playing. Hilary also helped me to notice other postural quirks and tensions that were affecting my sitting posture, computer use and many basic daily activities. Like many people I have a tendency to “power through” any problem by redoubling effort – my body was finally rebelling at age 40! 

Since taking lessons with Hilary (initially regular weekly lessons, then occasional) I have noticed improvements in many areas: 

  • Almost immediately my ability to sit still in meditation for 45 minutes improved noticeably – I became able to release aches and pains as they developed, without having to change position 
  • I learnt to approach the violin with patience, whereas before I had been “rushing” at it and tensing up
  • In my running club I improved my pace, core stability and breath coordination
  • I became aware of unhelpful posture habits: twisting my body at the computer, collapsing onto the sofa, clenching my right hand whilst texting, or leaning my hips against the kitchen sink whilst washing up.

Body Awareness and Co-ordination

Even more than these specifics though, the greatest benefit has been the overall improvement in body awareness and coordination. This has been sorely lacking all my life (pun intended) as I have always had hyper-mobility in several joints. I had not previously realised how much it affected me and limited my choices. Since working with Hilary on improving my proprioception and kinesthesia, I am now much more confident in how I use my body and am constantly improving my basic coordination skills, leading to stability and strength rather than frustration and injury. I feel like my mind and body are friends again now.

The New Family Game: ‘Posture Police’!

Lessons with Hilary have always been fun and relaxing, she listens every carefully and adapts her lessons to give precisely what is needed that week. I always leave her beautiful house feeling refreshed and buoyant. The only down-side is that I’m afraid I am a bit of an Alexander-evangelist now, and have roped my whole family in as “posture police” – with noticeable improvements in all of us!  By “posture police” I mean my kids are now in the excellent habit of saying “nice straight back, Mummy!” to me (or “ooh, your back is really curved when you’re putting your shoes on, you should bend your knees!” Also to each other, and they are more easily aware of their own movements and postures. (They do know it’s not supposed to be a stiffly-held straight back.) I have the feeling they are so much more aware of their bodies than before. 

Having done plenty of martial arts, my husband Marco has better posture and balance in movement than I do generally, but he is not immune to “laptop and couch slouch” – now he has three pairs of eyes ready to remind him. It’s become quite a family game. We’re all helping each other take care of our bodies better.

Pascale (Architect and Mother of Twins)

Alexander Technique Helps Neck Pain and Headaches

Six Years of Suffering Regular Headaches

I went to see Hilary because of a long standing problem with my neck and shoulder. I have had occasional flair ups of shoulder pain for about 30 years. For the past 5 or 6 years I have been waking up in the morning with a headache a couple of times a month. At first I put it down to hypertension and stress but even when my blood pressure was controlled the headaches continued, occasionally developing into full blown migraines.

Last summer I went sailing in the Mediterranean. I had a wonderful time, swimming several times a day, though I was aware that holding my head out of the salty water whilst doing breast stroke wasn’t good for my neck. The morning after an uncomfortable night sail to Corsica I lay on my bunk in agony whilst the others swam. I had a migraine and pain extending down my arm past my elbow. When I returned to the UK there was some improvement but the morning headaches were now happening nearly every day and usually woke me about 3 or 4am. Gentle yoga eased the pain, but I was having to do it at 4am.

Just How DO I Sit and Stand?

My GP sent me to a pain management consultant who told me my shoulder blades were “winged” and should be tucked flatter against my back, and my spine was too straight, it should have more curve. I left the clinic feeling I no longer knew how I should sit or stand or hold myself.

A friend suggested the Alexander Technique. At my first lesson I found it hard to believe Hilary when she told me that I didn’t need to force myself into a different shape. If I relaxed and let my body do its own thing it would naturally fall into position. Her recommended 20 minutes lying on the floor in semi supine seemed to me like a very long time doing nothing much! However I was so exhausted with the 4am headaches I decided to give it a try.

Pain Fades Away With Semi-Supine Procedure and Awareness During Activitiy

When I woke in the night with a headache, instead of doing yoga I tried lying in semi supine. I began to realise that if I concentrated on releasing my neck and shoulders the pain faded. Soon I was managing to go back to bed and get a few more hours sleep. That spurred me on and I read everything I could find on the Alexander Technique, practised lying down at least twice a day and tried to remember what I learned about inhibition and use in the rest of my day. At first that seemed impossible but with Hilary’s encouragement I know now that it is gradually seeping into the rest of my life.

Swimming and Sailing Again

I’m swimming again, remembering to lengthen and straighten my back. I’m sailing again too, though I still need to work on remembering what I’ve learned when I’m out in a boat. I’m generally much more aware of how I’m using my back and if I’ve been giving my neck a hard time I can usually sort it out with spending a while in semi supine when I get home.

Now Headache Free!

Best of all I’m headache free – they just faded away. Thank you

Pat – June 2017

Alexander Technique Teacher Training Courses

Have you thought of training to become an Alexander Teacher?

Do you wonder what type of person decides to train to be an Alexander Technique Teacher and what the criteria are for joining one of the STAT regulated courses? Every teacher has to start their experience of the Technique through being a pupil, learning about their own use and mis-use, perhaps in short Introductory Courses but definitely in 1:1 lessons. It is a learning experience, not a form of treatment, right from the start and it is up to each of us to decide just how far we wish to take the learning.

Pupils that are new to the Alexander Technique, often start lessons because they either have a problem such as back pain or they want to learn to use their bodies more efficiently so that they prevent problems from developing. Unfortunately, some pupils just want a quick fix, learn the Technique at a very superficial level and rush away from lessons as soon as they think their problem is sorted – their problems probably return again, later. Some people look after their car better than the way they look after themselves! They polish the car constantly and service it regularly – but they expect their own body to continue working well for them even though they give it very little care and attention.

At the other end of the spectrum, many pupils take the AT work on board at a deep level and make it a part of their life, so that it influences their whole way of being in the world. These pupils tend to continue having lessons on and off throughout their life, because they find the Technique so valuable for their wellbeing.

One such pupil, who first came to me when she was going through a very stressful period in her life, found that having AT lessons helped her to become calmer so that she could more easliy cope with things and she said that she wants to train to be an Alexander teacher, so that I can make deep changes in my life, which would help both me and my son’.

LCATT

Other pupils become fascinated by the Technique and enjoy it so much, that they want to take it much further and decide to train as Alexander Teachers. I have been teaching regularly at the London Centre for Alexander Teaching and Training, LCATT, since 2009 and several of my pupils have gone on to train as AT teachers there. As one pupil of mine said to me when he joined LCATT’s three year course

‘Thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of the training course, it is really eye opening to study the technique in so much detail….’

James Allsopp – Multi-instrumentalist and Composer (Aug 2007)

 

    LCATT Teachers

Some LCATT Teachers 

It is rewarding work and many teachers run their teaching practise alongside thir other profession, which can give a good and varied work pattern. There are teachers who are also office workers, doctors, professional musicians and athletes. Some of these AT teachers will develop a particular focus to their A/T teaching which relates to their other profession. For many years I taught the Alexander Technique whilst also working in psychology and stress management.

Sometimes this develops into a blending of techniques to form an off-shoot to the Alexander Technique, such as the linking of AT work with swimming, as in the Shaw Method. It perhaps also needs to be said that having two jobs has a practical side to it, as few people become rich from just their Alexander teaching!

Many teachers work in a variety of venues, which adds interest to the work. Over the years I have taught in an Alexander Centre, community colleges, a hospital, offices, my own home, a music college, music summer schools and alongside a yoga course in Crete. Other teachers could add other venues to the list. Many teachers continue teaching well past their ‘retirement’ age, because they just don’t want to stop doing something they find so satisfying and, significantly, because they are fit enough to be able to do so. I remember Margaret Goldie (1905-1997), one of Alexander’s first pupils and first-generation teachers, when she had her 90th birthday whilst still teaching in Bloomsbury. She told me ‘I hope I am still of some use’ – and indeed she was, she was still a sought after and highly respected senior teacher .

A Brief History of A/T Training Courses

F M Alexander himself was still teaching and running his teacher training course up until his death at the age of 86. This first ever A/T training course was started by Alexander in 1931, in London. These days, most UK teachers are members of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, STAT, which was formed in 1958 by teachers who had trained with F M Alexander himself. It is perhaps the most respected Alexander Teachers’ organisation in the world.

All UK Alexander teachers that are registered with STAT, will have undergone a three year Teacher Training at one of the STAT Approved Training Courses. There are 19 such courses at present in the UK, seven of which are in London. All these courses, plus five overseas training courses, are regulated by STAT through external moderators. Each course has its own characteristics and ‘flavour’ so if you are contemplating doing the training, it can be a good idea to visit more than one, to see which you prefer. Over time there has been an inevitable formation of styles of teaching the Technique and in the UK there are three main strands which have developed out of the training schools that were run by first-generation teachers Patrick Macdonald, Walter Carrington and Wilfred Barlow.

There are also numerous teacher training courses worldwide, which are regulated by Societies which are affiliated to STAT. This has lead to there being over 2,500 registered Alexander teachers working around the globe. However, there are still large areas of the word waiting for AT teachers to arrive there, so more teachers are needed.

The Training Courses Today

The criteria for joining a teacher training varies slightly from course to course but there is a general consensus about the main requirements that students need to meet. All the STAT Approved Training Courses require prospective students to have had a good number of individual Alexander Technique lessons, usually at least 20-30 lessons, before starting a training course. Importantly, students need to demonstrate that they have had a good groundwork in the Technique, have gained an improved level of use and a good understanding of and interest in, the basic principles of the Technique. The training courses run for four hours a day, four to five days a week, for three years. These hours allow students to continue with some paid work whilst training.

Trainee teachers will continuously work on their own use during the course, gradually learning how to work on other people and fine tuning the way they use their hands. Although the courses are predominantly practical, students will also learn some anatomy, plus read, discuss and sometimes write about F M Alexander’s books and those of senior teachers who have written about the Technique. The training courses are generally small and the teacher-student ratio is 1:5 so there is a high level of individual attention given to students.

There is often an intake of new students each term, which creates mixed-ability groups that allow students to learn from each other about their use – and their mis-use! Teachers come from all walks of life, so there can be a rich mix of lifestyles and skills to which the Technique may be applied – all valuable experience which will help when new teachers begin to work. Although the learning of the Technique is fundamentally the same for each pupil, everyone brings their own mix of habits, life experience and the demands of their daily life and work. So students become able to work with the needs and habits of such varied pupil-types as pregnant mothers, musicians, office workers and builders, for instance.

Many training courses welcome experienced AT pupils as visitors, where they are often able to act as ‘bodies’ for the students to work on. This allows the visitor to see what the schools are like, whilst receiving some extra AT teaching, usually at very low cost. This process also allows trainees the experience of working on a wider range of people who have already had some Alexander lessons and are able to work on themselves to some extent but who tend to be less experienced than the students on the course. This can help prepare students for the time when they begin to teach pupils who are new to the Technique.

In the final stage of the training, students begin to teach ‘real’ pupils, under supervision. These pupils generally only pay a nominal sum to the trainees, so it also offers people on a low income the chance to have lessons, a lovely win-win situation. Sometimes these trainees will also be able to extend their learning by assisting teachers who run introductory group workshops and courses – another situation where everyone benefits.

 

For a full list of STAT regulated Alexander Technique Teacher Training Courses visit: http://www.alexandertechnique.co.uk/

For Further information about LCATT, 137 Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury, London N5 2NH, visit http://www.lcatt.org.uk 

Alexander Technique Introductory Courses and Workshops

Introductory Workshops and Courses are very useful learning resources but it is important for anyone who is interested in attending one of these to remember that they really are only introductory! This may seem like a tautology but some people still seem to hope that they will be able to learn all they need from a few group sessions. Sadly, this is not possible.

Some very valuable learning can take place in Small Group Courses, they are a cheaper way to begin learning the Technique and they can be fun as well. Providing the pupils have some 1:1 lessons, these Introductory Courses and Workshops can offer a taste of Alexander work and even add something that is not possible to experience in individual lessons – so I believe Introductory Courses can offer something very worthwhile.

However the main learning of the Alexander Technique necessarily takes place in 1:1 lessons because this is the standard and best way – and many teachers would argue that individual classes are the only real way, to learn the Technique. The results of the ATEAM research into low back pain show that the most effective method of helping people with low back pain is to take 1:1 Alexander Technique lessons with a STAT registered teacher.

Dr Miriam Wohl (Statnews Jan ’08) goes as far as stating that she believes that group courses of six or more beginners, if they do not include individual lessons, merely short-change the participants and do both the Alexander Technique and the beginners, a disservice. Whilst I agree that individual lessons are central to a person’s ability to learn the Technique and that it is important that beginners realise this, I would argue that groups do have a useful role to play.

Miriam Wohl quotes a lecture given by Walter Carrington, who trained with F M Alexander:

unless people actually have the experience that it is possible to give in the lesson – in the one-to-one situation – they will not understand this vital point of the unity between mind and body… Group work has its tremendous uses and values… but you mustn’t overlook the fact that the Technique certainly can’t be taught by group work alone’.

Walter Carrington June 1994

It is for this reason that all participants of the Introductory Courses and Workshops that I run, are always encouraged to experience the Technique in an individual lesson and to see it as part of the course. I either include a private lesson in the course fee, or make an optional lesson available at a reduced rate. In this way pupils can understand the difference between what they have learned on the course and the greater depth and range of work that is only possible during individual lessons. Sometimes people are quite surprised to find out just how much more they can learn, when they have my undivided attention.

However, some people can feel somewhat isolated if they only have 1:1 lessons and do not know anyone else learning and using the AT in their daily activities, with whom they can share their experiences and widen their understanding of AT work. Small Group work can offer people a chance to make social connections with other AT pupils.

Why Are Individual Alexander Technique Lessons so Important?

We each have our own personal way of using our bodies, through which we express our thoughts and feelings as we act in the world and it is decidedly easier to address those individual traits in 1:1 lessons. In a group situation, what the teacher says to one pupil about her body-use, may also be helpful for someone else – but it may be quite wrong for another person and very unhelpful for that pupil to take those suggestions on board. In private lessons our individual issues may be addressed more directly, without such confusion.

Our mind and body work as one unit and we develop habitual patterns of psychophysical use over a long period of time. Some of these habits are unhelpful to us, resulting in minor problems such as poor co-ordination, a lack of poise or perhaps something hard to define, such as a person just not feeling ‘right’ in their body. Some of our habits contribute to, or cause, more serious conditions such as chronic back pain and RSI. We often don’t know we have to change something about the way we use and express ourselves in the world, until we experience the warning signals of pain. Pain is a good teacher!

Of course there are similarities to be seen in the various ways that people use their bodies and express themselves but we all have our unique habit patterns of use and mis-use. Many of these habits are subtle and are, at best, only semi-conscious. We are often not aware of them until an Alexander teacher draws our attention to them, so it is very difficult to stop habits and change the way we use ourselves on our own.

In an individual lesson the teacher’s hands guide the pupil’s movements, making gentle re-adjustments and the teacher may link the pupil’s attitudes and thought patterns to their body-use. In this way the teacher can highlight our habits moment by moment, as they take place, and so help us stop any mis-use that interferes with the way we function.

For instance, if a pupil has been told throughout their life to ‘try harder’, they may well tense up at the very thought of making an action, particularly if the movement holds some importance to that person. Just trying to relax will not work nearly as well as recognising the link between the thought ‘I must try harder’ and the perceived need to express this by tightening up. Once this link has been made the pupil can begin to choose not to react to that and other internal messages with tension.

In this way we can become free to find a different, conscious, way of using ourselves as we perform our daily activities. This process of change can take place in 1:1 lessons, in a way that would be unlikely to happen in a group situation. Importantly, pupils also learn how to maintain those changes during their daily lives, outside lessons. In this way, we can each learn to take responsibility for our own use rather than just wait for someone else to try to ‘fix’ things for us.

The Benefits to Learning in a Small Group Introductory Course are Many

Alexander Technique Intro with Hilary King

Reduced Cost

I believe Small Group Alexander Technique classes play a valuable role by offering participants the chance to find out about the Technique in a safe, friendly environment at a reduced cost. This means people can test the ground. I have known a number of people who, even if they can’t immediately have 1:1 lessons after the end of a course, come back to me for individual lessons a couple of years later, when they are financially more secure and they feel ready to work on themselves by learning the AT.

Observation and Sharing Experiences

Courses and Workshops can also offer something that is not possible to do in an individual lessons, for course participants can learn from other people as well as from the teacher, through discussion, sharing experiences and observing the way they all use their bodies. This can help them recognise similar patterns of use and mis-use in themselves as they develop their observational skills and awareness. As some of the experiential exercises used in workshops are in the form of games, it can also be a fun way to learn.

Taking on Responsibility for One’s Own Learning

The courses and workshops that I run are for a maximum of six participants so that each person can experience some individual hands-on work, although the time available for this is much reduced compared to private lessons. However, it does encourage people to take responsibility for their learning so that they do not immediately become dependent on the teacher and wait to be made to ‘feel better’. With larger groups, it is not possible to give much hands-on time at all, if there is only one teacher.

Experience for Trainee Teachers who Assist

In order to address this problem, some teachers, myself included, are developing links with Alexander Technique Training Schools and are inviting senior students and graduates to assist on Introductory Courses and Workshops. This allows course participants much more hands-on time and more varied discussion, plus offers trainees some valuable experience of working with groups of beginners. This enriches the courses and is beneficial for everyone involved.

So, although it is ideal to learn the Alexander Technique through individual lessons, a group course – used as an adjunct to these – can in my opinion, offer some useful extras which can enhance a pupil’s learning. Pupils benefit by getting to know others who are interested in the Technique and this contact can be supportive of their learning and their application of the Technique in everyday activities, so that their learning does not remain something that only happens in lessons.

Application of the Alexander Technique During Daily Activities

For many people, a group course leads them into taking 1:1 lessons, so they end up by benefiting from both ways of learning the Alexander Technique.

I have noticed over the years that pupils who take 1:1 lessons and who know others with whom they can discuss issues to do with the Alexander Technique, often become more engaged with applying AT work in their ordinary, daily lives, than some pupils who don’t see other people around them using the Technique. This is a very good argument for including at least some group work as part of the learning process.

An Experience of Alexander Lessons

Towards the end of 2012, I realised that I was struggling to find ways to deal with harmful levels of stress that were leaving me prone to panic attacks and fearing chronic exhaustion. I recalled having tried Alexander Technique lessons in the past and, although I had not been convinced at the time, I thought I should try again. Once I searched on the internet I noticed that there were a number of teachers practising in and around this area of North London, but Hilary King’s website inspired confidence. 

Coping Strategies and a New Vocabulary

Arriving for a session with a practitioner that you have never met in person, be it an osteopath, a psychotherapist or an Alexander Teacher, can be a daunting experience. But on first meeting Hilary for one to one lessons, she struck me as someone who was calm and understanding, as well as a perceptive listener. Over a year on, it is reasonably difficult to recall how strange it is to have a lesson for the first time. I will have felt self-conscious on first experiencing gentle hands-on work, standing still as Hilary explained what she was doing and what I had to (not) do. As when an Alexander Teacher takes hold of your left hand and lightly lifts it and pulls it away from the body, the student is to do nothing: not anticipate, not assist, and not resist. Not-doing is a remarkably difficult concept to grasp and, more importantly, it relies on trust: that your teacher is there for you and that this repetitive and somewhat banal movement will change you. Your teacher will encourage you to talk about your daily activities and show you how you can apply AT to perform these without unnecessary tension and paying more attention to the moment. ‘Why not use a slight monkey position when chopping vegetables’, for example, is one of Hilary’s favourite suggestions. A new vocabulary will also be acquired, and whilst doing a monkey is self-explanatory, there are other terms that are quite baffling initially: to have a loose and free neck, inhibition, end-gaining, and more. 

Mindfulness in Action

As the weeks went by though, I found Hilary was teaching me so much more than just how to sit, how to actively rest, how to walk, how to breathe. Alongside this process of repetition, I began to cultivate patience and being in the moment, and this allowed me to understand how I had been living life at an odd pace. Inevitably so, as such is the demand of modern life, to be drawn out of your present self and instead become caught up with what took place yesterday, what will need to be done tomorrow and what might happen next year. Therefore, you are standing in the kitchen hunched over the chopping board with one foot pointing outwards, in the direction of the hallway, should the phone ring, whilst fretting about when to complete that overdue report and, all the time, trying to ignore a regular pain niggling in the middle of your back. Instead, you could be doing a monkey and chopping leeks in your kitchen one April evening, taking pleasure in the task and stopping, perhaps, to notice that the days are now lighter for longer and you feel at ease. The report is still over due, the phone might ring, but this is the here and now.

Connecting With My Body

Whilst regularly attending AT lessons, Hilary was enabling me to connect with my body and the way I use and (mis)use it, encouraging me in the exploration of issues of trust in a safe environment, and gently showing me how to engage in the present. Hilary’s amiable sense of humour was part of the process from the start, a welcome quality because taking a close look at our self (body, personality, mind and habits) can be unnerving in its moments of revelation. Whilst I was initially anxious when being asked to consider an activity I found difficult, such as standing on the wobble board, I eventually realised that Hilary was not actually asking me to master the art of ‘monkeying’ on a small circular and unstable bit of plastic! Rather, Hilary was getting me to notice where and how I was stiffening in anxious anticipation of not accomplishing a task to perfection and, one day, instead of feeling that sharp sense of irritation with myself, I started to laugh. And my laughter had changed, it was no longer self-conscious or tightly nesting in my upper chest, but formed part of the release of tension – specifically from the belly. It was not like learning to laugh, as if for the first time, but remembering how to laugh with my whole being again. 

Conscious Choices and Change

To conclude, learning the AT has not only allowed me to develop the necessary strategies and inner strength to cope with what life can unexpectedly throw at us, but it has been instrumental in helping me find the courage to pursue the changes I wanted but found difficult to acknowledge. It has allowed me to appreciate through simple exercises, like catching (or not catching) the ball, that I have a conscious choice over how I sit and where I sit, how I stand and when I stand, what I do and why I do it (or do not do it). AT, if embraced and practised, can be empowering. If you live locally, you will find that Hilary is an empathetic, thoughtful and reliable Alexander Technique teacher, and she will help you work towards letting go of unnecessary tension and set you up with your own toolbox, so to speak, of AT skills so that you can go onwards and upwards.

JCH  April 2014

The Alexander Technique and How it Helped Me

Alexander Technique – My Experience

I worked in a college where a colleague told me that Alexander Technique had changed his life.  He managed a congenital skeletal problem through Alexander Technique.  I was moaning about my bad back – I was spending more time at the computer than in the classroom at this time, and despite having a good chair, I could hardly get out of my car at the end of some days without eye-watering pain.    I had seen osteopaths for years for my back (a car accident injury ) but only got short-term relief.  Then my legs began to ache …

So I thought AT couldn’t hurt.  Compared to osteopathy or chiropractic, it seemed a very minimal approach involving almost tiny adjustments of muscles.   But this is what worked.  Over a few weeks my back hurt less and less until I could sit at a meal in an ordinary chair and not notice my back.  I practised at home:   easy to lie on my back, listening to music for 20 minutes or so.  Not every day – my life was packed – but great before an evening out or after a long difficult day.  I no longer had back ache.  At all.

My aching legs, though, were the precursors of a more serious, long-term endocrine condition.  My energy, memory, and stamina were affected and I had constant muscle pain.  I continued with AT which helped me to cope with the worst.  Lying in the AT position made it less necessary to take pain-killers and helped me to be more calm and not to panic about the future of this illness.  Hilary helped with tips for finding rest and respite in difficult situations.  For instance, in hospitals, concentrating on having a free neck really helps in avoiding getting sucked in to the chaos and frustration evident all around in staff and patients …

I am better than I was, though had to leave work and live a reduced life.  AT sees me through difficult days and is a pleasure in the not so difficult days.  I still leave Hilary’s house feeling lighter and freer and am so grateful to her for her insights and practical care she has given me over all these years.

Try it.  It can’t hurt!

Maggie

Preventing Crippling Tension Headaches

Crippling Tension Headaches

I have been attending Alexander Technique (AT) sessions with Hilary King since January of this year. I had been suffering from quite crippling tension headaches on and off for several years and wanted to explore natural methods of preventing the headaches from occurring. Being a busy mother of three children and a primary school teacher I had developed some poor habits, particularly when it came to connecting with my body. I had heard about the Alexander Technique before but had little understanding of what it was other than a technique that involved correcting your posture (more about this later). As i read case studies online I realised that AT was something that I wanted to explore further. I found a local weekend workshop and this is what led me to Hilary, who was the course leader. 

The course was eye-opening and I discovered that AT was much more than a method of correcting posture. It is a programme of lessons that takes a holisitic approach to improving your health and well-being. It enables you to discover new ways of thinking about your body as a total system, incorporating the physical and mental and emotional. I was convinced that my headaches were not only being caused by mental stresses but that I was causing my body unnecessary physical stress.  After the course I decided to undertake individual lessons with Hilary and explore things further.  

Individual Lessons

From the very first lesson Hilary made me feel that she understood exactly what my issues were. We talked through my well-being history and then I allowed myself to be guided through the lesson. One of the first things that I learnt was to have a free neck. Now after ten months of fortnightly sessions the concept of having a free neck has become almost second nature. I think about my neck when I’m driving, doing housework, sitting at my desk or running around after the children. It’s amazing how much I had neglected my neck prior to these lessons. The neck is not the only area that I have learnt to free up but of course this was important in order to reduce the occurrence of my headaches initially. As a former model I had developed a habit of standing tall and thinking that this was good for my posture. What I have learnt is that being stiff and too straight is actually not the best posture for my body. I was contracting my muscles and not allowing them to relax. I am now allowing myself to stand tall like a rooted tree (growing upwards) instead of a statue. Hilary has shown me that my body needs to be flexible and ready to move in a fluid manner rather than a series of stiff, jerky movements. I have started to unlearn some of my poor posture habits though my lessons and I feel as if my body is beginning to thank me for it.

Exploring How To Pick Up My Baby 

One of my children is a baby of thirteen months and I have on occasion brought him along to the sessions. He enjoys the environment and I am certain that he benefits from being there too. Much of my day is spent picking him up and handling him. By bringing him along to the lessons with Hilary I have been shown how to incorporate the Alexander technique into everything that we do together. Hilary and I have explored how to hold him, pick him up and even play with him in a manner that allows my body to be free and flexible. This has been extremely useful as I am tall and used to suffer from lower backache. I cannot remember the last time I had a problem with my back and I am seven years older than when I had my first child! Alexander Technique has shown me that aches and pains in the body are not an inevitable part of growing older. 

Headaches?

So what of the headaches? Since the end of February I have not had a single tension headache. Not one! I can only attribute this wonderful development in my life to my lessons with Hilary. I believe that anyone can reduce pain and enhance their well-being if they change the way in which they think about their bodies. Our bodies are so much more than just bones and muscle. They are living, breathing organisms that deserve our attention and need to be considered in a more holistic manner. When we are able to do this we will notice many positive changes to our emotional and physical well-being. Alexander Technique with Hilary can help you to do this. An Alexander Technique session with Hilary will leave you feeling physically and emotionally replenished. Hilary is in touch with my individual needs and her personal touch makes me look forward to our sessions together.

Sheya Michaelides 2015