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Starting Alexander Technique


Lavandula
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I start attending Alexander Technique classes this work and I'm really looking forward to it. There is a college here in Bristol and their 3rd year students need guinea pigs so I'm going to go along. I've been wanting to find out more for ages but the price has put me off so this works out well. Just wondered what I should expect from a session as I don't really know what it entails.

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Matty30
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Cool,
Is it the STAT or ITM course in Bristol?
I was thinking about enrolling on the ITM course, let me know what the vibe of the place is like.

During the lesson you will probably start lying down for a while as they work on your neck, legs etc. Then some gentle chair work after- standing and sitting, whilst they glide you into a more relaxed/stronger stance.
After first lesson, you should feel more relaxed and maybe abit taller, with more support in the spine. A really good teacher will make you feel like you've been plugged in to the electric grid!

Hopefully, you'll get a good feeling from it.
The Alexander Technique is something you learn too, unlike Bowen which i think isnt something you learn.

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Lavandula
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I have to say i've no idea whether it is STAT or ITM - It's the BATTSA Training School.

Had my first session today - I was shown how to stand up and sit down on a chair, how to bend/crouch and pick up things. I found it very interesting especially the standing up as it was very different to what I normally do so I've got some work there to do. Half way through I felt a little funny - slightly dizzy and my feet felt unsteady. The lady said that that sometimes happens when there is a release somewhere in the body. I didn't expect that.

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Matty30
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yeah, thats the STAT one, the main body, theyre good.

Well the dizzy thing? mmm, could be you were shocked by the new way of moving causing a mild panic type attack?
Ironically, its a probably a sign you 'need' AT, in other words you maybe a bit out of shape or unbalanced and need sorting (???) Ive only ever felt dizzy when Ive been doing exercise in tension or lack of sleep. AT puts me right.
I dont think you will experience that alot with AT, if ever again. It maybe more to do with 'how' you have been moving/tension before starting AT?

Are you a reflexologist? I think AT and Reflexology are the best therapies (imao), Ive got so much to say/ask about them both, how the differ and how they relate. In a way I find AT 'mind reflexology'. over time i'll be interested in hearing what you make of AT and how you think they differ/relate. they are kind of different techniques that try and get the same result.

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bigvoice
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I'm a STAT-registered A.T. teacher. In my experience, dizziness is pretty common at first with pupils who have a lot of muscular tension. This is because the superfluous tension is compressing your entire circulatory system: when you release the tension, the blood vessels are decompressed and your blood pressure drops a little. It will balance out, so don't worry about it.
Matty, forgive me if I point out that A.T. is not a therapy, but a learned skill primarily of thinking. In other words, we teachers are aiming to make people healthily autonomous and put ourselves out of a job!
The main thing you were being taught, Lavandula, is not how to stand or sit, but how to inhibit your unconscious reactions when you decide to make a movement. (Or indeed, when any stimulus, including a decision you make, arrives in your central nervous system and invites a reaction.) We start with standing and sitting because in more complex activities, like riding a bicycle, there are masses of unconscious habits going on and it's too difficult to stop ourselves being guided by them straight away.

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Matty30
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"A.T. is not a therapy"
best ask them to remove it from the 'therapy forum' section then on this website.

of course im joking,

but it depends on how broad you define the word therapy really.
I would say its a therapy that involves teaching within it.
of course the Alexander technique itself is something you learn but the whole process is a therapy.
Like if you an alcoholic, you'd go to a therapy, and a therapist will make you aware of why there's problems and will teach you a proven technique or process to stop drinking.
But with AT its to stop bad muscular habits.

The AT community is great at debating what AT isnt.

I hope over time it doesnt 'eat itself' and get too hung up over words. Words are meaningless really when it comes to health.
If they really pursue avoiding being called a therapy then I think numbers trying it will decline.

I heard they dont like promoting AT for any specific problem because they see that in itself is 'end-gaining'. But I think thats madness. You've got to get people through the door to make them aware what end-gaining even is, you know.

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bigvoice
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Hi, Matty30,

"I heard they dont like promoting AT for any specific problem because they see that in itself is 'end-gaining'. But I think thats madness. You've got to get people through the door to make them aware what end-gaining even is, you know."

Actually we are fine about promoting AT for specific problems, so your point of view is one STAT and I we agree with. The Back Pain study is a good example: it was a 10-year clinical trial published in the BMJ in August 2008 which proves that AT is the best means (out of a number of methods) of addressing chronic mechanical lower-back pain. It has led to NICE recommending AT for this purpose. Because of another clinical trial, NICE also recommends AT for relieving the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

Perhaps where someone has slightly misinformed you is this: whatever problems may bring a new pupil through the door, we will always look at the whole person and their manner of using themselves. (Physically, at least - other behavioural manners of use won't be immediately apparent.) The Technique does not, ever, address one specific bit of the person or their body to the exclusion of the rest, nor do we aim for a specific cure. We look at how the whole person is co-ordinating themselves, working from the Primary Control (head-neck-back relationship) outwards, and then the right conditions for healing/health are created. The 'cure', therefore, is indirect.

I really don't want to end up trying to 'persuade' you of anything, but in a public space I have to put a couple of alternative points of view to yours, because it's important I don't leave people with the wrong impression.

"... of course the Alexander technique itself is something you learn but the whole process is a therapy."
I can see why you say that, because the benefits include therapeutic relief. However, none of us ever calls it a therapy for a couple of reasons.
1. If I have a pupil who comes to me with post-operative partial paralysis and spasms, and I use my skills just to make her feel nicer, I've failed in my job. I can make her feel nicer along the way, but that's not AT - I have to require her to use her brain differently, and to learn to do it when I'm not there. If I don't teach her to use her brain differently, old reactive habits will re-establish themselves and any benefit will have been temporary.
People who went to FM Alexander would have 30 lessons, usually on 30 consecutive days, and then (often) never again. And fifty years later they would still be using the Technique - many of his pupils still are - and insisting that it 'saved their lives'. No therapeutic treatment lasts that long: it's a skill for life.

2. And if a pupil comes and doesn't decide to work, to participate actively, then nothing I do can have a lasting benefit. It does, very occasionally, happen that pupils refuse to learn - usually because they are too attached to their condition or because they're not comfortable co-operating with the particular teacher they're seeing. If pupils come expecting to be the passive recipients of a 'cure' for something caused by what they're doing to themselves, and they won't learn to STOP doing 'it' to themselves, the condition that troubles them will return. (And I do not want the AT associated with that!)

"But with AT its to stop bad muscular habits."
Habits aren't muscular. The muscles only do what the brain tells them, consciously or unconsciously. Habits are invariably habits of thinking, of one kind or another.

"Words are meaningless really when it comes to health." Hmmm - I'm not sure that's precisely what you meant to say!!

What I would say is that, in an AT lesson, it's easy to talk too much. (Amongst ourselves we AT teachers are probably quite fond of talking!)
The important thing in teaching is to get to the point where the teacher can give the pupil a new EXPERIENCE, which is infinitely more useful than the description of an experience. We have to ensure that this new experience is associated by the pupil's brain with a new manner of thinking. (You'll know it as 'inhibiting' and 'directing'.)
That's why most of us will go to hands-on work within minutes of the start of the first lesson. Very, very few teachers have worked almost without hands, and STAT training is very insistent on the quality of hands-on skills of its trainees, far more than on the theory.

I have a wadge of the new STAT leaflets on my desk. Each of them focusses, on its front cover, on a specific benefit of the Technique. STAT hasn't always been very smart in its marketing, and I hope you would find the more recent moves in that direction an improvement on past years. However, I think to market AT as a therapy - or even to regulate it as a therapy, which is currently under debate - would be a 'mis-representation too far.'

Sorry to be long-winded. I'm just aware that other HP-ers may end up reading this thread, and as a representative of my profession I have to make sure I give them, not only you, these points of view. 😀

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Matty30
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"But with AT its to stop bad muscular habits."
Habits aren't muscular. The muscles only do what the brain tells them, consciously or unconsciously. Habits are invariably habits of thinking, of one kind or another.

"Words are meaningless really when it comes to health." Hmmm - I'm not sure that's precisely what you meant to say!!

yes, thats is exactly what i meant to say. For example should I have said "..stop bad muscular related habits?"

Adding the extra word is irrelevant and over-pedantic, and is meaningless for a back pain sufferer anyway.
You either have back pain or you dont.
You are either healthy or your not.
Discussing the meaning of words like 'therapy' is a waste of time and wont make anyone healthier, and being pediantic with words either wont make anyone healthier.

To clear up where the other point came from..
It was an American teacher refering to AmSAT and the poor quality of Alexander Technique youtube videos wrote:

"Unfortunately I've found in the Alexander Technique community that there's a reluctance to market, since marketing involves making claims of benefits and many AT teachers see that as endgaining."

"No therapeutic treatment lasts that long".
Thats a very debatable (and quite an extraordinary) claim.

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bigvoice
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Hi Matty,

Mmm, it's a fine line between being pedantic (on the one hand) and inaccurate (on the other), isn't it?

"No therapeutic treatment lasts as long as that," would have been the more precise wording, and "that long" was shorthand. (I did write 'fifty years later'...). Because FM Alexander died in 1955, and people are now saying that what he did for them in the 1930s, 40s and 50s is still for them absolutely life-changing.

You'll note that I'm a spiritual healer, and although I'm not yet 50 there are some healings for which I've been a channel which seem to have lasted more than a decade. I'd say this is because the original cause of the problem was addressed by, or before, the time of the healing.

I'd agree that the presence of AT on YouTube is lamentable - a big missed opportunity. A photographer doing a shoot for me just last week said that Getty Images only had seven images related to 'Alexander Technique', and they're the biggest image bank in the world. I'd agree that there's a reluctance to be seen as a 'treatment' or to promise a specific cure, but I don't think fear of endgaining is quite the correct diagnosis.

What you might regard as pedantry could actually, in my work and with my training, constitute the difference between a virtual end to back pain, and failure. AT is a very precise art and, just as there are many shades of grey between black and white, there are many degrees of health between '"you're healthy or you're not."
The 'back pain study' published in BMJ showed that 24 lessons produced an average reduction in days-in-pain per month from 21 days to 3 days. That's not unhealthy or healthy, but it's a hell of an improvement, better than any other treatment; and it was still working 12 months after the last lesson.

We agree on several points, so why don't we just let the others go?

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Matty30
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fo' shizzle, my nizzle

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mikeoc
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I have my first session this evening of Alexander Technique. I will report back my experience of it too. Looking forward to it!

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mikeoc
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Well, I enjoyed the session. It was quite a gentle experience, as I lay on the table with the practitioner talking to me about various things as she moved my limbs about. At the end she said there was a lot of tension in the muscles in my back that she could help me with. Strangely, my left shoulder felt a bit painful at the end of the session (but this cleared within half an hour). This was on Wednesday last week. I didnt think any more about the session, but since yesterday, i have noticed that i feel significantly taller and more upright - it's really odd, but in a good way!

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Matty30
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was there any particular health problem you went for mike?

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mikeoc
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Not really, more that now I have started training to be a sports massage therapist, my posture is going to be really important and I just want to look after it, and make sure I am in good shape.

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Venetian
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I start attending Alexander Technique classes this work and I'm really looking forward to it. There is a college here in Bristol and their 3rd year students need guinea pigs so I'm going to go along. I've been wanting to find out more for ages but the price has put me off so this works out well. Just wondered what I should expect from a session as I don't really know what it entails.

You could start out as I did.

A local college when I lived in London had a cheap two and a half hour intro to the Alexander Technique so I signed up. On the day, correct time and all, I turned up, walked in the door, and it seemed pretty obvious (to me) that this gymnasium in front of me was where it was all going to happen. People were limbering up or getting to know each other, so I joined in.

I frankly got a bit miffed, since the whole intro was only two and a half hours, when they literally spent an hour and ten minutes doing "getting to know each other" routines. Like, we made a circle, and each massaged the shoulders of the one in front. Then we sat around and had to throw a beach ball from one to another, and call out your name (for people to get to know you) when you caught it. All well and good, but when was the Alexander Technique going to begin??

With over an hour gone, the two Scandinavian girls running this sat us in a circle and, starting on my right, going anti-clockwise (so I'd be last) everyone had to say what had brought them to a full day course on ... Shiatsu! 😮 I fully admit that all the way as it went around the circle, I was dreaming up white lies as I wasn't going to show myself up as a fool. But on the instant, when it came to my turn I had to be truthful, I told them, "I thought it was the Alexander Technique! I came to the wrong room, and only just found out now!"

That really broke the ice, as everyone literally fell about laughing, and I was allowed to stay for the full day. 🙂

V

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mikeoc
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Had another session of AT yesterday, and this mornng I already feel taller. It is a most bizarre feeling - but in a good way - it really puts a spring in my step. I checked out my posture/profile in the bathroom mirror - normally my stomach sticks out a little bit, but it isnt at all today, I'm very upright, and it doesnt feel like my body is straining at all, feels completely natural.

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Matty30
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yeah, its the best feeling isnt it. and you go on an amazing journey of self discovery with it too.

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