Dame Judi Dench with teacher Sue Laurie

What happens when you have Alexander lessons, and why are they called lessons?

While this work can be intensely therapeutic, and indeed life-changing, you are essentially learning a skill just as you would learn to play a musical instrument or drive a car. In this case you are the instrument, or the car.

In a lesson, I will gently guide you while you sit and stand, and encourage you to release while you lie on a firm table.

Your work is to do nothing, which is not as easy as it sounds. You use thought, to stop overworking physically. It’s much easier to experience it in practice, than hearing it explained. Teachers recommend taking a few lessons before making up your mind about what this work is about.

Many pupils comment on how they feel ‘new’, more at ease, and literally they are often taller after a lesson. Personally, I was surprised at how different I looked when I saw myself in my teacher’s mirror – much less apologetic, more clear and confident, and with broader shoulders.

The purpose of a lesson is to give you to the experience of ease, so that you can learn to re-create it for yourself. Alexander often said “The right thing does itself”. He was encouraging people to stop trying too hard, as we then use too much tension. Watch a good dancer or skater, or indeed anyone who makes things look easy. They use just enough tension. They trust themselves and it is a pleasure to watch them. This is what good Alexander teaching is passing on.

The AT work is described as psycho-physical. It is not only about the body, or only about the mind, but the interaction between the two.

Fred Astaire and friend, making it look easy!

“I love the Alexander Technique. It has corrected my posture, improved my health, and changed my life. It has also helped me professionally, and I have delighted in the novelty of being praised for the way I stand or sit. It is better than being praised for my acting. If you work at it, the Alexander Principle will work for you.” Alec McCowen,  CBE, English actor, known for his work in numerous film and stage productions.