What Happens During an Alexander Lesson
or Group Class?
When I speak to new students on the telephone before their
first lesson, I find they often have questions about what
will go on during the lesson and about the teaching process
What Not to Expect
For a start, you don't remove your clothes. Nor is any kind
of special clothing required - though as table work often
forms part of the lesson, women students usually feel more
comfortable wearing slacks or jeans, rather than a skirt.
Alexander lessons are not painful. There is nothing physically
aggressive about the work. On the contrary, it is a process
of allowing the student to release tension - and the harmful
habits that were responsible for it - at a pace that suits
him or her, individually.
What Does the Teacher Do?
During the lesson your teacher will be observing your posture
and movement patterns. She will also supplement the visual
information in a very important way by using her hands, gently
placing them on your neck, shoulders, back and so on. The
teacher is using her hands in order to get more refined information
about your patterns of breathing and moving.
To help her with this, she will probably ask you to perform
some simple movements - perhaps waling, or standing up or
sitting down in a chair - while her hands are kept in easy
contact with your body.
At the same time that the teacher's hands are gathering information,
they will also be conveying information to you. The teacher's
hands will gently guide your body to encourage a release of
restrictive muscular tension.
Naturally, teachers vary somewhat in their approaches to teaching.
Just like any other group of professionals, there are variations
due to differences in personality and style of training. Some
teachers may talk and explain more at first; others prefer
to spend most of the time during the first lessons simply
helping you to get a new experience of ease and flexibility.
Similarly, some teachers emphasize a few, fairly basic, movements,
allowing the effect to carry over into all your activities,
while others prefer to work with you in a wide variety of
How Long are Lessons - and How Many Will I Need?
A lesson usually lasts between thirty and forty-five minutes.
It will probably take a few lessons for you and your teacher
to get an idea of how quickly you will make progress. As with
the learning of any new skill, a lot depends on how far you
want to take it. The majority of students come for a few months,
taking between twenty and forty lessons during that period
and then, perhaps, come back for refresher lessons or groups
of lessons, from time to time.
At the start, students are usually urged to come for lessons
fairly frequently, perhaps two or three times a week if that's
at all possible. This is because the new approach to movement,
and to thinking about movement, which they are learning is
a bit unfamiliar at first and may need a little extra help
to become established. Later on in the process, students often
find they continue to progress quite well with lessons spaced
a week or more apart.
What About Alexander Group Work?
Some Alexander Technique teachers have found that by working
with individuals in a group setting, they can help far more
people that would ever have been possible with individual
lessons. Group work is as old as the Alexander Technique itself
and experience has shown that under the right circumstances,
it can be a very effective way of teaching.
Some nice photographs of an Alexander Technique teaching session
can be found at http://www.lpb.com/alex/lesson.htm
An excellent, somewhat longer, discussion of the Alexander
teaching process can be found at http://www.alexandertechnique.com/articles/sweeney
Robert Rickover is a teacher of the Alexander Technique
living in Lincoln, Nebraska. He also teaches regularly in
Toronto, Canada. Robert is the author of Fitness Without
Stress - A Guide to the Alexander Technique and is
the creator of The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique
The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique at www.alexandertechnique.com
Ergonomics.org - Posture, Movement and Ergonomics at www.ergonomics.org
The Physical Therapy and Alexander Technique Homepage
Pilates and Alexander - The Men, their Methods and their
Legacies at pilatesandalexander.com
Posture and the Alexander Technique at posture.ws
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