Advice for a New Alexander Technique Teacher

Karen Krueger, ACAT ’10

1.  Trust your instincts.
Having completed a rigorous training course at ACAT, you are well-equipped to teach the Alexander Technique.  If your instinct suggests a particular approach with a student, or a particular insight that you think might be helpful, go with it, and see if it works.  If it doesn't, try something else. (See #2 and #3.)
2.  Throw out your agenda.

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Strategies for a Lie Down #1: Expand, like rising dough

by Brooke Lieb

During many Alexander lessons, part of the lesson is spent with the student resting on her or his back on a table as the teacher uses verbal guidance and hands-on assistance to help the student expand her or his back onto the table, release arms and legs away from the trunk, and ease mental and physical tension and stress.

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How to Stand with Poise and Ease, Part 2

by Witold Fitz-Simon

It’s Monday morning! (It's not, it's Thursday, but just imagine.) Hopefully, you’ve had a relaxing and restorative weekend, and you’ve arrived back at work refreshed and ready to meet the week. Those first few moments of the day can be great, can’t they? So much spring in your step before the weight of the day presses down on you.

But that weight of the day can sometimes feel like a real thing like someone is sneaking rocks into your pockets when you’re not looking, and by the end of the day your shoulders are hunched, your back is stooped and your neck aches. If only that freshness and lightness that comes after a good weekend (or, even better, a long vacation) could last!

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How To Stand With Poise and Ease, Part 1

by Witold Fitz-Simon

What if your body were a highly evolved and finely tuned organism that uses complex, dynamically responsive mechanisms to track a vast number of data inputs to adapt to a constantly shifting environment, and was able to accommodate multiple, often contradictory directives with subtlety and grace?

What if the aches and pains, the limitations and injuries that you experience as a result of your everyday life were not a result of the flawed workings of a crude machine, but were instead the result of all the things you do in a day that interfere with that complex coordination? What if, in order to stand tall and have good posture, to be grounded on your feet and light on your feet all at the same time, all you had to do was do less or let go of all the pushing and pulling, compressing and collapsing you do to yourself all day and allow that underlying coordination to reassert itself?

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Advice for a New Alexander Technique Teacher

Brooke Lieb, ACAT ’89

Remember to refer back to your student’s head/neck/back relationship frequently during the lesson. Help her understand that as she explores or attends to an activity, or observes more details about her specific habits, she can observe how this influences her head/neck/back. Conversely, as she returns to attend to her head/neck/back, she can observe how this influences the activity or pattern she was working with.

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The Alexander Technique Applied to Mindful Eating

by Brooke Lieb

In an effort to reduce stress, I have stopped watching the news. I skim the homepage of the Guardian and the NY Times to keep current, but otherwise, I rarely watch news on TV or online.

Instead, I watch British films and TV, comedies and crime dramas, home improvement shows and I am a huge fan of the Great British Baking Show.

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Musings on F. M. Alexander's Directions

by Brooke Lieb

One key aspect of using the directions in Alexander lessons is to understand how they are intended to work. Thinking is the essence of the Alexander Technique, and this thinking influences our whole being. We often observe the muscular changes, but changes occur at every level.

I am always refining, re-inventing, and re-imagining how these directions are meant to be applied, and I found an envelope where I jotted down my musings about this. I didn’t date the envelope, but I would bet good money it’s been sitting on my desk for somewhere between 5 and 8 years.
 

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Podcast: Don’t Make Pain the Enemy

by Dan Cayer

Most approaches to solving chronic pain fail because they try to either overpower the pain through exercise or PT regimens, or ignore the discomfort and ‘get on with life.’ Both approaches act as if the pain and uncertainty aren’t there. Both approaches act as if you aren’t there – dealing with the swirling feelings and thoughts that arise. In my 20 minute interview on the podcast, “Body Learning,” I share a different approach to resolving chronic pain that I’ve tested out in my personal life and with hundreds of students.

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A Powerful Moment at ACAT with Faculty Member Judy Stern

Last fall, and again this spring, ACAT faculty member Judy Stern shared her wisdom and experience as an Alexander Technique teacher with a small group in a series of weekly post-graduate courses at ACAT.  Having recently retired from her private practice, Judy is now devoting her teaching time to certified teachers and trainees in ACAT’s teacher certification program, passing along the teachings of ACAT’s founders and her own ways of working developed during her three decades of teaching private students, trainees and teachers.

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Sorting out Good Ballroom Posture

by Bette Chamberlin

When I was a professional ballet dancer with American Ballet Theater, people would come up to me and ask “are you a dancer? and then immediately “you have such good posture.” I would reply “yes”, and “thank you”. I felt content that in fact I had good posture. But that compliment was always tied with “are you a dancer?”

Hmm…

When I stopped dancing professionally and started to teach ballet, I continued to be that dancer that “had good posture”, yet I was unwittingly passing along the model of an over straightened spine to my students. At the same time, I was experiencing intense neck and shoulder pain. My spine was braced and operating by habit, acting as if I was still a professional ballet dancer, and not responding to conventional treatments. My anxiety about this was building and became another daily challenge.

The reality is that most of us dancers have an idea about posture that involves way too much muscular tension.

And I was an excellent example of this.

It wasn’t until I started looking for both relief for my neck pain and a more organic way to look at posture that I bumped into F. M. Alexander’s discovery. Rethinking the relationship between my head neck and spine was a revelation. I was soon pain free and decided to train as an Alexander Technique teacher.

Since that time, I have studied Ballroom dancing for the past 12 years, in particular American Rhythm and International Latin. There is no question that had I not changed my impression of “good posture” I would not have been able to continue lessons all these years, win competitions and find the enjoyment in moving.

Is there a special posture that we apply to ballroom versus walking down the street, waiting in line at the market, singing or playing a musical instrument?

We have all been taught by our awesome teachers that there is a specific angle of the head, or an element of body positioning that is required to evoke tango, salsa, waltz or rumba.

However, I have learned that good posture is based on the architecture of our bodies, the support of the spine, muscles, ligaments and tendons that help to move our amazing structure. But HOW to coordinate this in an efficient manner is what I have learned over the years.