Frequently Asked Questions
What should I wear to a lesson?
Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in.
How many lessons will I need?
As with any skill this depends on where you are starting from, where you would like to end up and how quickly you are able to learn. However, as a guide, in a large randomised study just 6 lessons halved days with back pain and 24 lessons reduced them by 86%. On average, people need about 20-30 lessons to develop sufficient skills to continue to improve further without the assistance of a teacher.
Am I expected to make a commitment to a certain number of lessons?
No, you are always completely free to make your own decision about whether to book another lesson. However, it is important to recognise that lessons are a process of re-education and ought not to be seen as a "quick fix". The effects of lessons usually build one upon the other, and it can take several lessons for symptoms to begin to improve. For this reason, it is generally best if you can allow yourself at least six lessons (preferably close together) before deciding whether you would like to continue.
How frequently should I come for lessons?
When you start lessons, straight away you will be working to overcome the habits of a lifetime. There is a distinct advantage to scheduling lessons closer together for the first few weeks, ideally at least once a week,
How long do lessons last?
This can vary between teachers, although 45 minutes is probably about average. Because lessons are quite intense, longer lessons are not usually beneficial for most students.
Are lessons suitable for everybody?
The Alexander Technique involves no specific exercises, requires no special clothing or equipment, can be practised wherever you are and is suitable for people of all ages and levels of fitness.
Are good results guaranteed?
Both learning and applying the AT demand the active participation of students. Learning to change long established habits can be a gradual and challenging process. Good results depend on the interest and ability of individuals to follow the advice received and on their resolve to apply what they have learned to their daily activities. Although teachers do not aim to, nor offer a “cure”, people usually experience valuable health benefits.
Do all teachers teach the same way?
Most teachers teach the same principles and other core material but their approach will vary according to their training, experience, skills, personality and interests, and according to the needs of the individual student. During my lessons you will only learn the Alexander Technique, there will be no methodologies of disciplines mixed which would dilute your experience.
What do lessons cost?
A lesson is £45, if you wish to commit to 10 lessons upfront the cost is £420.
Are teachers regulated and insured?
Members of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT), which represents the great majority of teachers, have successfully completed a three year training course recognized by the Society, have professional indemnity insurance and an enhanced disclosure DBS (previously CRB) certificate, and are subject to a Code of Professional Conduct. There is an established complaints procedure. In the UK there are about 900 teachers registered by STAT.
Are there risks associated with Alexander Technique lessons?
One of the great advantages of the AT is that it is remarkably safe. As an example of this, in the large randomised controlled trial of AT for low back pain, not one of the 579 participants reported an "adverse event" (negative result), and this is quite typical. Not many effective health interventions can make such a claim!
The risks in AT lessons ought not to be any greater than those associated with simple everyday activities; if anything rather less, because your teacher has been trained to prioritise your safety. However, if you have an illness or a disabilty that significantly increases your risk of falling, it is important that you let your teacher know at your first meeting.
Can I learn the Alexander Technique from a book or online?
Almost any person who has errors of co-ordination will not be able to learn the AT from a book or online. This is for two reasons:
Firstly, when our co-ordination goes wrong, we are not actually doing what we think we are doing. Our senses have become unreliable so that the 'wrong' thing has come to feel 'right' and, because of this, the 'right' thing can at first feel quite wrong.
Secondly, most of us attempt to resolve our problems by endeavouring to do what we imagine to be the 'right' thing. Not only may we be mistaken about what is 'right' but, even if not, this approach is exactly the opposite of the method of the AT. In AT lessons, the student learns to become aware of the 'wrong' thing that they are doing so that, by ceasing to do this 'wrong' thing, the 'right' thing is free to happen, spontaneously, and by itself.
Because these two principles are at first so counterintuitive to most people, in practice almost everyone requires skilled individual assistance to learn the AT.
How does it differ from Yoga and Pilates?
The Alexander Technique is like an instruction manual on how to move with more ease, Yoga and Pilates are something you can apply it to so that you can do them better.
Why are they called lessons?
The Alexander Technique takes a holistic, preventative approach to health. Its focus is not on specific conditions or problems, but on giving you the knowledge and experience which will enable you to look after yourself as a whole. In an Alexander lesson, therefore, you are not simply receiving a treatment but are interactively learning a better and more healthy way of using yourself and avoiding potential problems. In the course of learning to improve our overall use of ourselves, many specific symptoms and complaints can be improved or eliminated, as the body is allowed to lengthen and expand into its natural, full three-dimensional presence. Circulation and breathing improve, and unnecessary pressure on joints is relieved. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to repair and rebalance themselves if we will allow them to.
Is there evidence available to support claims of effectiveness for back pain?
There is strong evidence to demonstrate the long-term benefits from taking Alexander Technique lessons for people with chronic low back pain in a major study published in the British Medical Journal (https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a884).