Frequently Asked Questions
Who developed the Alexander
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
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
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
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
How often do I need to take
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
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.