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Alexander Technique - I noticed how much more energy I had...


"I had been thinking of taking lessons in the Alexander Technique for some time. My work as a solicitor is spent almost entirely at a desk, staring at a computer for long hours. Although my work is sedentary, it also manages to be highly stressful at times. My anxiety levels were rising to alarming levels and I was exhausted when I dragged myself home each afternoon. Getting up in the morning, I gritted my teeth to push myself through another day. Living inside my body felt like dragging around a sack of aches and pains, but I took these for granted simply as the price of getting older. When I got up in the morning, I was so stiff, I could hardly move. I felt grumpy and bad tempered all the time. Unlike many who turn to the Alexander Technique, I was lucky enough not to have any serious back problems, but niggling injuries over the years were building up. I assumed that life was just like this, and that it would only get worse. Something needed to be done. I had tried the gym, but got bored and felt worse. I enjoyed both Pilates and yoga but felt that there was still a piece of the jigsaw missing. These gave me more responsive control of my body, but I did not know what I was meant to be doing with that control. A perceptive friend of mine told me that I was tall, but that I managed to conceal it well. I knew that I was several inches taller than I thought I was. I had heard about the Alexander Technique as a student. Outside my work, I perform as a classical musician, and many singers and keyboard players had spoken with religious zeal about the benefits that they had derived from the Technique. As I read more about the Technique, I began to see how it might help you, say, to sing better or ski better, but much of the explanation seemed obscure. How could relaxing your neck help you to become a calmer, freer, more confident person? How could some breathing exercises developed by a self-taught Australian actor in the 1890s open your personality? How could ‘inhibition’ be a good thing? Why on earth should I spend hours practicing standing up and sitting down? I was perfectly good at these already. Clearly, it was complete bunkum and my interest was put on hold. Many years later I had some swimming lessons from an Alexander teacher. He described his discovery of the Technique as releasing the brakes on his life, brakes which he did not realise even existed. Whilst I still found it hard to understand the principle of the Technique, his confident and upright bearing – without the slightest trace of rigidity – was beyond argument. He had got something, an aura about him, and I wanted it as well. The final step came when, as a 50th birthday present to myself, I had a music lesson with a leading teacher. Not more than half the lesson was spent on musical interpretation; at least as much time was spent on her observing and noting the excessive degree in which I allowed my neck, shoulders and arms to interfere with my playing. ‘Keep the neck out of it!’ she encouraged me. The time had come, and I started lessons with Linda a few months ago. Lessons with Linda are always relaxing physically, but challenging on another level. When invited to place my feet shoulder width apart, I realised that I had no idea how wide my shoulders were. With the subtlest of movements, she released my arms that suddenly felt six feet long. I felt that I could stretch out and touch both walls of the room. My body felt new and different, but Linda is a confident, good – humoured and reassuring guide. At first, the process seemed mysterious – it still does – but the benefits cannot be denied. After only the first lesson, I felt myself floating down the road, feeling taller than I had ever felt before. My legs felt light and free and seemed to walking of their own accord without my having to put in the slightest effort, whereas beforehand, I had forced them to walk every inch of the way. What on earth was going on? Released energy started to bubble up inside me and I laughed out loud on the station platform. People must have thought I was very odd. After only a week or two, I noticed that I could get out of bed in the morning with all my stiffness, aches and pains having disappeared. I began to realise how much tension I had been holding in my feet, my legs and my ankles. I realised that I had not trusted my body to carry me through life. I had regarded it, at best, as a donkey that I would have to beat every step of the way, rather than a beautifully articulated mechanism that, left to its own devices, would breathe and move smoothly, needing only a fraction of the energy that I was expending on it. I noticed how much more energy I had. I was able to take a more balanced view of life. Challenges at work that seemed overwhelming suddenly seemed manageable. A difficult relationship became easier, even enjoyable. I would get up in the morning, not just feeling supple, but actually looking forward to the day. I had lived more than 50 years inside my body, but only now was I starting to learn how to use it properly. By contrast, I knew much more about how to use the computer I stared at hour after hour, even though that is a far less sophisticated machine. Each week I appreciate more of the richness of the Alexander Technique. I look forward to each lesson with Linda as deeper and deeper knots, both physical and emotional, slip and release. There is a long way to go but every step is enjoyable."