‘Think up’

My favourite dog walk at present is in the Alice Holt Arboretum, Farnham. There is a dip where there are more than 60 Redwoods, and through their feathery leaves, the sun shines a spotlight on the forest floor. Sitting there today, I found myself looking up – to the treetops, the sky, to birdsong.

A key element of the Alexander Technique is the ‘directions’ to self: thinking ‘Let your neck be free in order to allow your head to go forward and up, and your back to lengthen and widen’, or in shorthand, ‘think up’. When I think ‘up’, magically, I feel more open, I seem to have more room to breathe. and I see more. Try it maybe?



How to change

How to change?

F M Alexander discovered his technique because he had a problem. He was working as an actor in Australia, but kept losing his voice. There appeared to be no medical explantion, so he set to work to find out what he was doing that might be causing this recurrent laryngitis. He found by observing himself in mirrors that when he spoke there was an associated habitual pattern of tension that affected his voice. This was a very significant discovery, and the beginning of a process of change, of resolving not only his vocal difficulties, but also a chronic respiratory problem.

How to change? It’s all there in his story –

acknowledgement of a problem or the state of things, and
acceptance of personal responsibility for one’s wellbeing;
careful observation of self;
willingness to work at something, and determination.

Why learn the Alexander Technique?

Why learn the Alexander Technique?

A walk yesterday up ‘The Cat’s Back’ in The Black Mountains led me to think about the way a cat responds to touch: a stroke down its back seems to make it expand outwards from that touch – not shrink away from it.

I didn’t know I had a choice in how I responded to life before I had Alexander lessons.

In the beginning I continued with lessons because I felt energised, positive, buoyant. Then the Technique really helped with lower back pain. Finally, I realised that I wanted to change. I wanted to feel more confident so that I could enjoy life more. I wanted to be able to sing and not feel exhausted after a concert because of the habitual nervous tension I experienced.

And it worked! Or rather, it’s work in progress. Learning the Technique gave me the confidence of knowing that I had a choice in the way I responded to life, that I could manage the tension and nerves that had affected me since I was a child.

That’s why you should learn the Alexander Technique – because you want to change.WP_20160509_004.jpg cat's back


I have just come back from a 10 day course on the Island of Islay – glorious weather and no TV/radio/email or phone! The course was a fascinating exploration of movement, and the questions that arise from in depth study. One of the themes for me was indeed about the asking of questions – both of a concrete and philosophical nature. An image popped into my head today – a memory of watching a small child kneeling on a seat, looking out of a train window, asking question after question; sometimes the same question over and over! It’s how they learn, how we learn, develop, grow, change.

Alexander Technique can help you ask questions, help you learn, develop, grow, change – if you want to.

WP_20160423_001.jpg Islay

Islay Dawn



‘Is there too much stress on STRESS?’*

I was very interested to read an article – ‘Is there too much stress on STRESS?’ in one of the Sunday papers*. Coined by Hans Seyle in the 1940s, the term ‘stress’ must be one of the most used words in our language. It has been a dirty word, but increasingly there is recognition of the benefit of appropriate amounts of stress.
I was particularly interested to read about a study that demonstrates the way in which ‘the effects of stress can be mitigated by a certain cast of mind’ (p 11) – a project from the University of California, published in ‘Biological Science’, has found that certain people can build resilience so that when they are subjected to stress, they are able to modify the fight/flight reaction, and maintain a degree of calm, rather than panic and subsequent exhaustion. An exciting possibility!
It made me think about the way in which the Alexander Technique can help: by developing the ability to recognise habitual responses to stressful situations, and learning how to choose a more appropriate response.
Definitely food for thought.

*The Observer 14.02.2016 THE NEW REVIEW pp 8-11

Learning in the lambing shed!

January 5th 2016: a beautiful sunny spring-like day. We have started giving our sheep a supplementary feed because it is only 8 weeks until lambing! Thinking about new lambs reminded me of a morning spent with the ‘small shepherds’ club’ I belong to, a few years ago. We were gathered in the lambing shed of a large commercial farm in Surrey: The shepherd was demonstrating how to tube feed a premature lamb, when his ears literally pricked up. He handed the little lamb to someone else, stepped over the hurdles, and made his way through the hundreds of expectant mums to a ewe struggling to give birth. He delivered the lamb, got it breathing and settled, and then resumed his talk without any fuss. He was absolutely ‘in the moment’ – relaxed, and yet acutely aware, ready to respond to any situation.

This state of being is probably one to which we would all aspire, and the Alexander Technique can help you – learning how to recognize when stress is making you tense, and teaching you how to use thinking to bring about a more desirable state, of both relaxation and awareness, like the shepherd, well-oiled and ready to spring!

Tip of the week: sat at your desk, or dining table, notice the effect of your thinking: say to yourself: eyes relax; notice what is within your visual field, and at the limit of where you can see, let your ears take over hearing sounds, so that you have a 360 degree sense of being. How do you feel?


Upcoming workshop – Tired, Stressed, Tense?

Tension-related problems can literally ‘get you down’. This workshop will introduce you to the Alexander Technique, and the way in which it can help you to

  • release tension in your neck/shoulders/back
  • move with more ease and energy
  • let go of stress
  • improve posture

Date:              Monday February 22nd 2016
Time:              19.30-21.30
Venue:           Farnham Maltings*
Price:             £17.50

For more information, and to book a place, contact local teacher, Jenny Goodwin
01252 795326 / 07891 016768, or through contact page