Put Yourself In Good Hands
...with Alexander Technique Teacher Jennifer Davy
Without noticing, we all habitually respond to life's circumstances by gripping our muscles and gradually developing postural habits, which create pressure in the body. At best this pressure can lead to poor co-ordination, at worst it can cause stress, pain and even structural damage. The aim of the Alexander Technique is to help people identify their postural habits and eliminate the muscular pressure.
From a musculoskeletal perspective this can benefit most people: athletes, musicians, actors, people in business, people in discomfort, people seeking poise and gravitas, young and old...
Everyone should try it! Call me on 07866 257033 or fill in the form below to arrange an appointment.
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What is the Alexander Technique
In this image the teacher is guiding the pupil through a simple movement. Many postural habits will be revealed which the teacher will be able to influence and comment upon. The insight gained can then be applied to more complex everyday activities.
The Alexander Technique is a practical and thorough way of improving muscular use and regaining natural poise and comfort in balance and movement.
Lessons can 'free up' breathing, circulation and digestion, help with stress-related conditions and help a person to improve their skills, posture and general well being.
For example, in the image below on the left, we can see a distorted spine. Imagine how hard it would be for those ribs to move enough for comfortable breathing. Imagine how squashed all the internal organs would be under the weight of the upper body.
Many of us have a posture something like this and are accustomed to it feeling normal. Some of us have to make the most of it if our spine is damaged or diseased. Most of us don’t ever need to do this to ourselves as it is a very inefficient use of energy.
The image on the right shows a more ideal back posture for sitting at the computer. With training and practise you can become accustomed to sitting comfortably like this.
F.M. Alexander 1869-1955
Frederick Matthias Alexander was born in Tasmania in 1869. In his twenties he moved to Sydney and became an actor of some repute.
His successful career was threatened by unexplained vocal problems, which he set about overcoming himself without medical aid. His discoveries about the use of muscles in movement and balance were groundbreaking.
He realised that incorrect 'use of the self' could explain much of human suffering and began helping others. By the time he moved to England at the turn of the century he and his technique were well known and well received. He spent the rest of his life developing his teaching methods, eventually training others to teach and publishing several books. His love of theatre remained but was overtaken by this pioneering work. F. M. Alexander died in 1955 but his principle lives on through the work of teachers worldwide.
From childhood onwards his other great passion in life was horses. He was a skilled rider and had an eye for a good horse. His minute attention to the efficiency of movement in horses coupled with similar observation of himself while acting lead to his understanding of the 'Primary Control' and the beginning of his remarkable journey. Aldous Huxley, one of F. M. Alexander’s many famous pupils, believed this discovery to be on a par with Einstein’s theory of relativity. There is no doubt that many would agree!
People apply the Alexander Technique to whatever they do in life, it can be used in any religious, spiritual, political or social context. Someone once asked F. M. Alexander what would happen if he taught a thief, expecting him to say the character would be reformed, but instead he laughed and said the man would become a better thief!
I started having Alexander Technique lessons 40 years ago because of backache and plantar fasciitis. My feet were damaged during a school expedition and for two years I could hardly walk or stand.
Lessons made my back feel so comfortable that I kept coming back for more and my feet gradually got better as my overall use of myself improved. By the time I began my teacher training I was able to run and dance on a daily basis.
I completed a three-year teacher training course with Carolyn and John Nicholls. They in turn trained with Walter Carrington, the man F. M. Alexander entrusted to take over his teacher training course in 1955.
I was lucky enough to have many lessons with first generation teachers, Walter Carrington, Peggy Williams, Elisabeth Walker and Tony Spawforth. I've taught for over 25 years and keep my work up to date by attending refresher courses and regular lessons for teachers.
I've worked with an incredibly diverse range of people from all walks of life and am fascinated to see how the technique can help in so many ways.
I've taught musicians, doctors, osteopaths, stroke victims, children, the elderly, farmers, engineers, oil-rig workers, lawyers, actors, athletes, horse riders, pregnant women, teachers, bank managers and people with chronic pain.
I've given lectures and introductory courses to school teachers, doctors, Adult Education, the Women's Institute, Young Farmers, teachers conventions, chiropractors, osteopaths, U3A and a huge range of interest groups.
In 2004 I took part in the National Back Pain Trial as one of the elected teachers. The trial proved that the Alexander Technique can cure lower back pain.
I have experience teaching all kinds of performers and for many years worked in the music departments of two prestigious independent schools. I used the technique in my own singing career and in public speaking.
My teaching has taken me to offices, clinics and music departments across Southern England and briefly in Malaysia.
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Who I can help
Anyone can have Alexander Technique lessons, regardless of age or ability. We are all in possession of a muscular-skeletal system and a brain to control it. We've all learned to balance and move about, doing hundreds of things - we can learn to improve on those skills now.
My oldest pupil was over ninety, my youngest was four and my most challenged was a boy with brain damage and hypertonia on one side of his body. The most surprising pupil was a young man who, mysteriously crippled, needed assistance to come to his lesson at a busy clinic and walked away unaided at the end, to everyone’s astonishment and actual applause. These are the extremes!
The Alexander Technique is the only solution that can address your fundamental 'use' of yourself. It is based on mechanical facts rather than something you have to imagine or believe in. It is not a quick fix: it is an investment of time in lessons that do require some effort. If you want to learn, the Technique will definitely help you to feel more comfortable in yourself. Beyond that people use lessons for hundreds of reasons, some of them entirely unexpected…
In my experience people have reported that it has helped:
cure sciatica, IBS, nail-biting, all sorts of pain and discomfort, shyness, plantar fasciitis, RSI etc.
manage scoliosis, different forms of arthritis, Parkinson's, polio, stroke, obesity etc.
improve skill in swimming, singing, cycling, rock-climbing, voice projection, riding, lifting etc.
avoid potentially risky surgery
save money and time by getting straight to the root of a problem
feel great in themselves
feel empowered and confident
Additionally, medical research has also proven that the Alexander Technique can be effective in eliminating back pain and neck pain.
The Technique is also taught at many performing arts colleges worldwide, including RADA, Trinity College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. For people who need to get the best out of their own body, with minimum wear and tear, lessons are an essential part of the curriculum.
'131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013: of these, 31 million days were from musculoskeletal conditions'
Office for National Statistics
'Most of the pain-related lost productive time occurs while employees are at work and is in the form of reduced performance'
JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association)
Over the course of my career, I've visited various company sites and taught from their premises, instructing the employees on how to improve their workplace habits and posture. Having employees who are comfortable and efficient will reduce absenteeism, and this means that the Alexander Technique is seen by many company directors as a sensible investment.
This list gives a good idea of the wide variety of companies who have used the Alexander Technique in their workplace:
Packexe Michelmores English Nature
Saatchi and Saatchi G. E. Capital Norwich Union
AA Price Waterhouse Coopers News International
Whitbread Norander Eagle Star
BP United Distillers Mercury Communication
The Independent Clifford Chance BFI Archives
Shell UK Allan & Ovary BBC South
A & M Publishing Standard Chartered Bank Cornwall Business Associaton
Chemical Bank Kingston General Hospital Alan Tye Design
BACS Ogilvy & Mather BMW
The Telegraph Simpsons of Piccadilly Derwent Publishing
Marks & Spencer Royal Mail British Nuclear Fuels Civil Service Royal Free Hospital Emap Global Consumer Finance Ltd Reuters
BBC Smith and Nephew National Theatre
The business world
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What to expect in a lesson
Lessons last between thirty and forty minutes. Although people usually find the experience very pleasant and relaxing, the effort the brain has to make is surprisingly intensive and would not be sustainable for a longer period of time.
The teacher uses verbal and manual guidance. We use our hands in a gentle, elastic way to sense where a person’s muscular misuse is and to encourage 'release,' 'direction,' and 'inhibition'. The touch is very specialised and entirely non-invasive. The teacher will explain aspects of the technique, direct specific activity or simply chat, depending on their own personality and the needs of the pupil. The majority of influence comes through the teacher’s hands.
The lesson will usually involve you lying, fully clothed, on a couch; sitting on a chair or saddle; standing and then gently moving as the teacher guides you. All your muscular habits will reveal themselves and everything you discover can then be applied to more complex activities.
F. M. Alexander helping his pupil free up. People say his hands felt like big suction pads and the moment he placed one on your head you would feel several inches taller!
How many lessons
1 - 2 lessons will show you whether the Alexander Technique is what you want or need. The principles of the technique do not vary and should feel similar regardless of the teacher. Teachers vary enormously and you need to feel happy with the one you choose and the way they deliver the verbal aspect of the lesson.
8 - 10 lessons will give the teacher a chance to cover the principles and give you the chance to put them into practice.
20 - 30 lessons make sense if you really want to permanently alter the habits of a lifetime. If you compare this to learning a musical instrument or a sport it will give you an idea of how long you need to develop a new skill.
Many people, myself included, have lessons for life. If you enjoy the process, enjoy self-improvement, or have a problem which always needs to be managed, having ongoing Alexander Technique lessons will always be of great benefit.
Whatever the number of lessons you have they are an investment in good use.
So, if you're seeking relief from a chronic health problem such as IBS, sciatica, back pain, arthritis, RSI or many others; if you would like to improve your musical or athletic performance; if you'd like to improve the workplace habits of your employees, so they can become more productive; if you want to improve personal skills or simply feel more comfortable then get in touch with me through the form below, or by giving me a call on 07866 257033 and I'll contact you to arrange a lesson.
In this image the teacher is encouraging the pupil to release pressure held in his neck and back.
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M: 07866 257033