Famous people who use or have used the Alexander Technique include: Dame Judy Dench, William Hurt, John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Paul Newman, Moshe Feldenkrais (originator of the Feldenkrais Method), John Dewey, Dr. Andrew Weil, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Dr. Nikolaas Tinbergen, George Bernard Shaw and author Roald Dahl to name just a few.
After only 10 lessons with her I had already made massive strides towards achieving that goal. The first result was the disappearance of the dark circles under my eyes which, when I noticed it, had me returning to the mirror time and again throughout the day. Before starting lessons, strolling would be rather tiring even if there were no inclines, whereas I can now breathe much better even walking uphill.
Another telling change I experienced was the difference while on holiday in mountainous areas. In April 2013 I could barely make the walk uphill. On another similar uphill walk in June 2014, although I still found myself feeling slightly winded on particularly steep inclines, I could easily manage the walk and, for most of it, even talk.
Another change is that my clothes fit better and I even look slimmer, despite having gained weight in the past year. I both look and am taller, also evident in the fact that my hair keeps getting “shorter” (if you look at the distance between the hair and my shoulders) as my shoulders are relaxed and where nature intended them to be instead of being up towards my ears.
At the time of writing this, I am only going to Marion every second week. Initially, I went for two lessons per week. Now, because new, healthy habits have been developed, this is no longer necessary. If I do feel pain or discomfort I know what to do to deal with it (no medication, no physio required), but for the most part I can avoid the stiff and sore back, neck and shoulder muscles that I constantly had before.
Starting Alexander Technique with Marion is the best possible investment I could have made in my current and future health. She has helped me to help myself, and I know I will benefit from my time with her for the rest of my life.
I began the Alexander Technique in 2004 at the age of 17. I had recently left the National Rhythmic Gymnastics group and had been training roughly 5 hours per day for several years. A high level of back flexibility is required for this sport, and I was left with severe back pains and was struggling to sleep at night.
I had tried regular deep tissue massage and sports massage. Although it brought relief immediately afterwards, the pain would always be back by the next day. I became desperate. Finally, through word of mouth, I was advised to try the Alexander Technique.
I had to promise the teacher that I would attend no less than five sessions before making up my mind whether to continue or not. Sure enough, for the first three sessions I felt almost no change at all. During these sessions the teacher suggested ideas that were foreign to me. For example, she said that by using my muscles less, I would be able to do more with my body. This was the opposite of what I had learnt during my gym training. She also said that the pain I was feeling was due to an initial conscious decision to hold those muscles tight. This then becomes an unconscious habit. But because these are voluntary muscles, I had the power to release them. But I needed to do this consciously in order to break my habits.
Only during the fifth session did I finally notice a real difference. I had an amazingly light feeling in my body, and felt pins and needles in my hands. By relaxing my muscles and letting myself be heavy on the table, I felt lighter than I had ever felt. It was the acceptance of allowing gravity to support me that made me feel so light – I discovered that I did not need to use any muscles to support myself.
Over the next twelve sessions my whole outlook on life seemed to change. I realized that everything I did not need to be difficult and full of effort. My own body image became healthier, as I learnt to accept my body as it is, and work with it instead of pushing it all the time. The light feeling I discovered during my fifth session became stronger and stronger, and lasted for longer periods each time. I was able to sleep better. At first I could fall asleep easily but woke up with tension by the morning. Later I was able to sleep the whole night. By the end of the fifteen lesson, the only remaining part of my body that I still struggled with was tension in my neck.
The Alexander Technique gave me back a sense of control over my life and my body. It showed me that not everything has to be forced – we are always taught to do things, but Alexander teaches you that you can simply allow, rather than do, and that this can also be very productive. I came to understand that our bodies are designed to function in specific ways, so we do not have to instruct our bodies to do basic activities, but can rather simply allow the natural movements to take place. Relearning these natural movements was a process of letting go of entrenched, unnatural habits that I had unknowingly imposed on myself.