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The Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre has been offering Alexander lessons and workshops since 1994.

Friday, 07 February 2014

You can take the Alexander Technique into anything!

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I did a workshop last week on applying the Alexander Technique to Tai Chi, something of which I have no particular knowledge. However, Tai Chi like may things works with the principles of poise and balance, principles that are central to the Alexander Technique and the development of constructive conscious control. As a teacher, I am able to help students of Tai Chi improve their practice, in a way that I am able to help horse riders, musicians or anybody improve their practice and performance in physical activity. 
The knowledge of the principles of poise and balance, as well as a sound knowledge of the mechanics of use, which are part of every Alexander Technique teacher’s training, allows me to help others improve their skills in their chosen activities. My own approach, developed through my training in Personal Construct Psychology, is to recognise that pupils are experts in their own field and practice. I then work with them to integrate the Alexander Technique into these. Alexander Technique is so basic that you can take it into anything - something that cannot be said of Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates or any exercise programme!
Indeed, it is so basic, as Alexander knew, that through the control of one’s manner of use, one can control one’s manner of reaction. Something that he thought many people familiar with his work had missed – which is unfortunately probably still true today.

I use this knowledge with both my Alexander pupils and my therapy clients to help them not just with anxiety but with the sense of overwhelm that goes with being flooded. I will be blogging soon, on my therapy blog, about flooding and how it can lead to difficulties in relationships. The way to help people who flood, in therapy jargon, is to teach them to self-soothe, which basically means to find for themselves a way to breathe and focus again. Alexander Technique is a really helpful way of doing this, where inhibition becomes a form of gentling of the self, where negative, self critical thoughts are held at bay, in favour of a new way of being in the world, by oneself and then with others.

It is part of the foundation skills, that everybody needs in order to have fulfilling personal relationships, that some people learn in the normal course of things when they are young; and others need to learn consciously when they are older. Conscious control, developed through the Alexander Technique really is so basic, that you can take it into anything. It, as it involves the use of the self, really is central to the act of living, and can be made central to living a rich, rewarding and productive life.

Richard Casebow

Back in the mid-1980s, I started to suffer from severe sciatica that often made walking and working difficult. At the time, I was training in London to become a Chartered Accountant and I left, as I was spending increasing amounts of time off waiting for the pain to subside. Around this time, I also became depressed, as my prospects seemed to darken with little hope of a normal life. In seeking help I found my way both to a psychotherapist and then to an Alexander Technique teacher, both of which helped enormously. The therapy with forming a life plan and understanding myself, encouraged me to dream of the life I have now. The Alexander Technique gave me the practical tool to help realise it and to allow me to rehabilitate myself to lead a full normal life.

The link between Alexander Technique, Psychotherapy and the art of living intelligently became something that has fascinated me ever since and is something I have continued to explore myself and with pupils and clients since. This blog is my attempt to elucidate the links, as well as to talk about Alexander Technique pure and simple and the benefits of therapy.

I founded the Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre in 1994, Counselling Conversations came later after I became a practising therapist in 2003. Professionally I act as the Treasurer of the Personal Construct Psychology Association and sit on the board of the UKCP’s house magazine The Psychotherapist. When I am not to be found working, there is nothing better I like to be doing than spending time on a Scottish hillside, exploring the arts or just spending time with friends and family, including the family cat.