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Beginning in the Middle

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

I’ve just finished a year of hands-on teacher training in the Alexander Technique, though I’m technically in my second year because of online anatomy and science lectures during 2020. I felt blessed to have all the online information, but couldn’t wait to begin hands-on work. And it’s been quite a journey.

I came to the Alexander Technique (AT) in 2016 because of vocal issues. As an elementary music specialist, singing is an occupational necessity, but also a hazard in the midst of classroom management stresses and overuse issues. I was looking for help so I could continue in a career I loved. However, nineteen years ago I had a lumbar spinal cord injury that caused a complete loss of function from my waist down, and in the recovery process I developed ways of using muscles that were not conducive to my work. The worst was a poor breathing habit that used muscles of my shoulders and neck for inhaling, causing havoc in my vocal mechanism.

The work I’ve had with AT teachers has freed up my body to allow for less tension overall, easier breathing and singing, but has also opened up my lower back, hips, legs and feet so that they work much more efficiently. Besides all that, I’ve learned to teach the Technique, which consists of a series of lessons during which the student explores movements and finds habits that could be improved. The movements are quite basic, either to daily movements (like sitting and standing, bending, reaching, twisting) or to developmental movement (experienced by every child and commented on by every parent and grandparent witnessing the rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and standing moments of the first year of life). Through these simple movements an AT teacher guides a student to realize where tension lies in the body and how to release it by lengthening muscles and stopping the habitual way of moving. This leads to reorganization in the way the muscular and nervous systems work, allowing the student’s bones to bear the weight and work of the body so that paired muscles balance as they were designed, rather than overworking in some places and weakening in others.

I’ve got another year and a half of study, and I’m looking forward to the fall term, during which we’ll explore the movements and writings of Raymond Dart. His developmental movements were incorporated in the 1960s by the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential ( in Philadelphia to help children with brain injuries. We’ll also learn more about teaching students at a chair and on the massage table. But more on that another time.

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