Gain Poise and Grace with the Alexander Technique

The following is a guest post from Carolyn Johnston, who I’ve known and had the pleasure of working with for several years. Through her background as a dancer and performer, she discovered the Alexander Technique. We will be welcoming her into the studio for a special workshop to teach the technique, which is a supplementary method to overcome inefficient patterns. – Lesley

Carolyn Johnston, teacher of the Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is a movement re-education method that teaches how to identify and change unconscious habits that interfere with our natural comfort.  As we become aware of how we strain and compress ourselves, we learn to release the misused energy and redirect it into a whole body/mind coordination. Poise and grace emerge in every thought and action.

I was introduced to the Alexander Technique by my acting teachers, Kay Miller and Fran Fetman.  A few years later, I needed to make a decision as to whether to train to be a Core Somatics Practitioner which combines the Alexander Technique with Feldenkrais and Gestalt Psychotherapy.  To help make that decision, I took an Alexander Technique introductory 12-hour weekend workshop in Pittsburgh, which was taught by Bruce Fertman, one of the directors of the Alexander Technique teacher training school in Philadelphia. I was amazed!  I attended the Alexander Foundation of Philadelphia’s extended study program in Pittsburgh and also had more exposure to A.T. in my 2 yr. Core Somatics training. Seeing the value and power of this work, I decided to travel to Philadelphia and other places for over a period of five years to become a certified Alexander Technique teacher. I had the privilege of studying with three teachers who trained directly under Alexander, Marjorie Barstow, Erika Whittaker and Elizabeth Walker.

The technique helps people with back, neck, shoulder, knee, foot, hip pain and migraine headaches.  It also helps people who want to improve a skill. The best candidates are those patiently willing to go through the process of becoming consciously aware of their habits that are contributing to their disease and who wish to no longer be an unconscious victim of their habits.

Lessons include:

  • Hands-on guidance in sitting, standing, walking and lying down
  • Hands-on guidance and demonstrations in how the principles affecting those common activities can help you find freedom in any simple or highly skilled activity
  • Study of simple musculoskeletal anatomy as it relates to movement habits and regaining natural buoyancy
  • Instruction in Alexander’s principles that promotes harmonious mind/body functioning

Students are most surprised by the sense of being unburdened, lighter, centered, balanced, graceful, and confident.  Many times they are surprised by the lessening or absence of pain.

The most satisfying aspect of teaching Frederick Matthias Alexander’s essential work to recovering and freeing the self is that it brings healing to my students’ bodies, minds and souls.  

Even after studying and teaching this work since 1975, I am amazed and astonished by the beauty and effectiveness of this process.  I am still making discoveries for myself and am grateful to F.M., as he was fondly called, for sharing his discoveries that includes thinking and understanding in order to influence choice and change.

Sign up for Carolyn’s workshop and check out our other events here:

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