Frequently Asked Questions

Who developed the Alexander Technique?

Who has studied the Alexander Technique?

I'm not a performer!  What can the Technique do for me?

What happens in an Alexander Technique lesson?

So is the Technique like a massage, or relaxation exercises?

How often do I need to come to lessons?

How long do I need to study the Technique?

Who developed the Alexander Technique?

F. Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor who suffered from chronic laryngitis while performing. After physicians failed to help him, he took matters into his own hands and began a nine-year period of self-study to find the cause of his voice loss. Through his exploration he discovered the importance of the relationship between head, neck and spine, and their dynamic influence on the body as a whole. He called this balance the primary control and found it to be of tremendous influence on optimal coordination and freedom of movement, breath and speech.

Who has studied the Alexander Technique ?

In recent years, the Alexander Technique has been perhaps most popular among actors, musicians, and other performers, with notable students like Julie Andrews, William Hurt, Robin Williams, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, John Cleese, Sting and Paul McCartney.  However, other strong advocates of the Technique throughout its history have included Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, John Dewey, and Nobel prize winner Nikolaas Tinbergen.

I'm not a performer!  What can the Technique do for me?

You don't have to be an actor or singer (or a Nobel Prize winner) to benefit from the Alexander Technique.  Whether you lead an active, physical lifestyle, or you spend long hours working at a desk, the Alexander Technique has something to offer you.

What happens in an Alexander Technique lesson?

During a lesson, your teacher guides you with words and light touch to approach movement differently.  Through this interaction, your teacher helps you to become aware of your habitual responses to external stimuli, to temporarily suspend those responses, and to have a new, conscious choice in responding to stimuli so that you may maximize your physical efficiency and ease of movement.
    An Alexander Technique lesson often involves simple activities performed while sitting in a chair or lying on a table, but the lesson will always be tailored to your individual needs.  You can work on simple daily activities you would like to enhance, such as computer work, carrying a child, or sleeping more comfortably.  If you'd like to refine a more specialized activity, like playing an instrument, public speaking, or exercising, your teacher can work with you individually on ways to reduce spinal compression and to increase overall support as you practice.
    You do not need any special equipment to study the Alexander Technique, and you are always fully clothed during a lesson.  You can come dressed for the office or dressed for the gym -- you only need to be able to move comfortably.  There is no strenuous physical exertion involved, and what is done with the teacher's hands is a very gentle form of manual guidance, involving no sudden manipulation. 

Isn't Alexander Technique like a massage, or relaxation exercises?

Definitely not!  Although many students report that they feel more relaxed and focused after a lesson, you are not coming to class for a passive experience.  You are an active participant -- mentally and physically -- at all times during the lesson. 
    The Technique is not a quick "fix" for stress or injury and it is not a set of exercises to help you relax in a quiet room.  Your role is that of "student" rather than "patient," and the ultimate goal of the teacher is to enable you to achieve greater physical awareness and freedom within the regular activities of your everyday life.

How often do I need to take lessons?

For new students of the Technique, one lesson (of 45 to 60 minutes) per week is a good starting point.  After an introduction to the basic principles of the Technique, some students choose to study more intensively, while others may only wish to come every few weeks for a "refresher" or to work on new activities  or habits they may have noticed in their lives.

So how long do I need to study the Technique?

The ultimate goal of an Alexander Technique teacher is to enable you to deal with the stimuli and stresses of daily life on your own, outside the controlled environment of a lesson.  Some people find the Technique so useful that they have studied with a particular teacher (or with a variety of teachers) for years or even decades -- but this kind of commitment is not at all required!
    Because the Technique is not just a quick fix, and because you play an active role in setting the pace and content of your lesson, it usually takes several lessons before you see and feel any significant, lasting changes in your physical use.  For most students, a minimum of ten lessons is recommended for a basic grounding in the principles of the Alexander Technique.  Contact Kate Kobak for more information about an introductory lesson and rates for single classes or multiple-class packages.