A teaching chair, a sleeping cat.
Welcome and come on in!
This is my Alexander Technique studio. If you’re curious about Alexander work, you can learn a lot from what’s in a teacher’s space. Here are five things in my teaching space and how they are used in an Alexander lesson.
Chair: In a traditional Alexander lesson, we begin with chair work. We could use any movement to teach the Alexander Technique, but we start with the chair because it’s simple. Amazingly, many of your habits can be found in sitting and standing. By starting with something so familiar, we focus on how you’re thinking and moving at a fundamental level.
Table: Alexander lessons include a table turn. We use a massage table, but an Alexander Technique table turn is nothing like a massage. You rest quietly on your back, while the teacher encourages release of the back musculature into length. For many of us, resting our minds comes at the expense of our bodies—for example, collapsing on the couch to watch television after work. A table turn models a different way to rest, one that leaves you feeling open and refreshed, not compressed and stiff.
Piano: The piano represents the “activity work” part of a lesson: the thing that you do everyday, usually the focus of your career or a passionate hobby. If you’re a pianist, it’s practicing the piano. If you’re a writer, it might be working at your laptop. Maybe it has nothing to do with an instrument or object. If you’re a runner, you might want help with your running. If chair work looks at your general coordination, activity work looks at how your general coordination can serve you better in the work that matters to you the most. Often activity work is the most ground-breaking part of your lesson. When you realize the force of your habit in the activities that you do every day, you are well on your way to change.
Mirror: A mirror clarifies what’s really going on. One of the most challenging things about changing a habit is that our habits feel normal and the better way too often feels weird. For example, the other day I was helping a student find an easier way of standing. She usually stands with her knees locked, her hips pushed forward and her upper back pushed back. After I adjusted her stance, she felt like she was doing the opposite: pushing her butt back and leaning forward. But when she looked in the mirror, she saw that she was standing up straight. The mirror helped her compare what she thought she was doing with what she was actually doing,
iPhone (on top of the bookcase—not visible): The video and slow-mo features on my iPhone, along with the Coach’s Eye app, are helpful to my students when they’re moving at speed. For example, one student was trying to work out if his skateboarding was the cause of knee pain. We went outside and videotaped him on his board, and saw that he bent his knees in towards each other with each impact, straining the area of his knees that hurt. Seeing the action helped him sense the action in real time and helped him start to address an old habit,
These are some of the objects in my teaching space, and how they’re used in an Alexander…what’s number 6? Oh, that’s Arlo. He likes to sleep in my violin case. Cats often make excellent teaching assistants. They excel at modeling the importance of rest and rejuvenation.