Surprising personal benefits of the Alexander Technique
I went to a group introductory workshop on the Alexander Technique when I was in my twenties, living in a shared house in Clapham. I started having one-to-one lessons with a teacher shortly afterwards, and so began my AT journey.
In my 30+ years on this journey I have noticed many positive changes in myself. I thought I’d share some… 5 today, and 5 in the next blog post.
OK, disclaimer, I am not allowed to claim outright that these are “proven benefits” of the Alexander Technique which are available to anyone who embarks upon a course of lessons, STAT (the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique) has expressly forbidden it. As teachers in our publicity we must stick to the proven benefits, those for which there is a conclusive bit of research somewhere. What I am presenting here are 10 benefits that I personally have noticed as a result of my (now rather long!) Alexander Technique practice.
1. No more air hunger
This one I didn’t actually notice at the time, only afterwards. A client came to me and described the really uncomfortable sensation of feeling like she couldn’t take a full breath – that no matter how much she inflated her lungs, the feeling of getting enough air in evaded her. I said, “Oh my goodness, I used to have exactly the same sensation, but funnily enough I haven’t had it for years, the last time I noticed it was on the AT training course”. It had just gone.
Of course the AT helps with breathing – FM himself was known as the breathing man. I think that once you learn to leave yourself alone, to allow the ribcage room to expand, then good breathing just starts happening naturally.
2. Improved eyesight
During my time training to be a teacher of the Alexander Technique (the first time
round…as some of you may know, I trained twice!!) everyone used to put their glasses on the mantelpiece above the fire in Landsdowne Road, myself included. During these 3 years of training, I went for my routine eye check-ups and every time, the optician would express surprise at how my eyesight was actually improving rather than getting worse, which was what he saw in the majority of his clients.
I do think that the way we use the eyes (and the ears, and all the senses) is key to the Alexander Technique. If I’ve never talked about this in a lesson, ask me, I’ll willingly chat away!
A bit surprising, this one. Again, back to the early noughties in Landsdowne Road, and there were a while clutch of us getting in the family way, me included (this is why I had to train twice, because I didn’t quite complete the training the first time round as I stopped to have a baby). It became a bit of a running joke, Alan, Ruth and John (heads of teacher training) used to joke about opening a crèche in the school.
I do think there is something about the regulation of the nervous system which happens with the Alexander Technique that is good for all systems of the body – reproductive systems included. There are a host of Landsdowne Road babies walking round out there (all in their late teens now) who are testament to this!
4. Gut improvements
People always seem to have ways in which they typically fall ill. For example, my husband and my younger son, respiratory stuff – coughs, colds, sneezes – every single time. Myself and my older son – gut stuff. We both seem to have rather delicate stomachs, we get stomach bugs easily. My son only has to step inside a shopping mall and he starts to feel ill and quite frequently comes home and vomits (why is this???? Is it that artificial scent they are pumping into the air in some shops???).
Anyway, long story short, my gut has had its ups and downs. It still does, but since I began my AT journey, there has been a very perceivable “up” to my gut journey…it’s much more on an even keel (homeopathy and nutrition have helped here too). But again, it’s to do with that regulation of the nervous system, the whole vagus nerve connection thing, it’s calming and soothing to the gut.
5. Mood improvement, mood regulation
You go into the lesson feeling a bit umm, a bit ahh, not much really. But 45 minutes later you come out of the lesson with a renewed spring in your step, feeling really much brighter than you did before.
Why is this? This still happens to me now. It’s something to do with bringing yourself back into the here and now, the regulation of the breathing and the nervous system, but most of all about getting yourself going up (as opposed to pulling down). Get all these things going and it is impossible, I think, to feel fed up, depressed, down.
Next blog….5 more surprising personal benefits! See you then. Drop a comment or question below if you have any.