I am relieved to be out of pain and to have found a technique that works for me. I hadn’t appreciated when I first started lessons how much of a positive impact the Alexander Technique would have in other areas of my life. Considering I only started Alexander Technique lessons for back pain, this has been an unexpected bonus!
Learning the Alexander Technique does not involve doing exercises. There are, however, some procedures typically used in Alexander learning such as practising lying in the semi-supine position.
Although the AT is often referred to alongside both Yoga and Pilates, they are not the same. Pilates is an exercise system and Yoga involves a series of postures.
The Alexander Technique, on the other hand, although also a physical method, is primarily a technique for improving awareness of how we use our bodies in any activity. You can apply the principles of the Alexander Technique to doing exercises such as Pilates or to practicing Yoga, but you cannot apply Pilates to how you practise the Alexander Technique.
The number of lessons depend on how much you apply the Technique between lessons, the condition you are in when you first start and how far you would like to take it. A basic course of around 20 lessons is recommended.
It is a bit like learning any new skill or perhaps a new language. Some people continue to take lessons for many years at fairly regular intervals because they enjoy it and continue to improve.
Many people see a change after the first few lessons, but to get a lasting benefit it is recommended that you take a series of individual lessons for a few months. The more frequently you have the lessons the sooner you will learn to apply the Technique in your everyday life.
If you have a sufficient number of lessons and you apply what you learn on your own in your everyday life, then the benefits will last for ever.
The Alexander Technique does not subscribe to the dictum of "no pain, no gain". It is more concerned with helping you to learn to move and use your body in a way that frees you from pain. Learning to change the way you use your body can sometimes trigger old pain as you go through the process of letting go of tensions.
People also sometimes feel emotions well up as they let go of muscular tension patterns. On the whole the effects of learning the Alexander Technique are positive - people often report feeling lighter, freer, more balanced, breathe easier, better co-ordinated, etc.
No. AT teachers use their hands in a very gentle and non-invasive way. They do not manipulate or practise massage and you do not need to remove your clothes during a lesson.
By learning to release excess physical tension and mental stress you will feel more relaxed, however it is not a relaxation technique per se.
Yes, many teachers give introductory group classes, either as a series of evening classes or as one-day and weekend workshops. There are also introductory group classes in adult education centres and some group teaching in performing arts colleges.
Many teachers will do home or hospital visits for people who cannot come to them for health or other reasons.
In theory yes, although not all that many GPs know about the Alexander Technique.
NICE recommendations refer to Alexander Technique lessons for back pain in relation to exercise, and also for people with Parkinson's disease (helping them to make lifestyle adjustments that affect both the physical nature of the condition and the person's attitudes to having Parkinson's).
Some pain clinics also offer Alexander Technique lessons.
Only a few private health insurers (PHI) provide cover for AT lessons.
The following companies are known to reimburse Alexander Technique sessions, mostly on a Consultant’s prescription:
- Actplan (on GP’s referral)
- Ellis Healthcare
- Executive Healthcare Ltd
- Exeter Friendly Society (on self-referral)
- Guardian Health
- Healthcare Management
- HEALTHSHIELD (through company based scheme)
- Hogg-Robinson Healthcare
- I.G.I. (on GP’s referral)
- Iron Trades Ass. Co
- Managed Care Consultants Ltd
- Medical Claims Handling
- Motor Insurer's Bureau
- Norwich Union
- Prime Health
- The Civil Service Med. Aid Assoc. (on self-referral)
- The E.C.’s Joint Medical Insurance Scheme
- The U.N.’s Medical Insurance Scheme
- UAP Provincial Insurance Plc
- Universal Providence
- UNIQA (Austria)
- Van Breda
If you have insurance with any private health insurance company it is worth asking if they will cover AT lessons.