“How many Alexander lessons will I need?”
This is a question I am often asked by new pupils – but one that is almost impossible to answer.
Alexander lessons are not cheap, so it’s understandable that people want to know how much money they should expect to pay out, or how much time they need to commit.
The problem, however, is that every person is different. A large proportion of pupils begin lessons because they have back pain, another type of pain or a problem they are hoping to resolve. For most, Alexander Technique is directly helpful, with relief from the pain or solution to the problem occurring within the first few lessons. For others, however, this is not the case and – especially if they do not fully understand the philosophy behind the Technique – it is easy to lose heart and just give up.
Alexander set out the basic principles of his technique in his four books, the first of which is called “Man’s Supreme Inheritance”. One of the first principles he defined was that use affects functioning: which essentially means that the way we think and do things affects our health, wellbeing and performance in all areas of our lives.
So, if I use my body in a well-balanced way, not only will I avoid subjecting muscles and joints to unnecessary strain, but I will also develop good coordination: promoting effective development of whatever skills I choose to learn. If, on the other hand, I use my body in a tense, out-of-balance way or with bad posture, I am likely at some point to develop problems: their specific nature manifesting perhaps in aches and pains or other symptoms of ill-health; or perhaps taking the form of failure to achieve my potential in a particular skill, or in my personal life more generally.
From this perspective of cause and effect (use affects functioning), individual problems and symptoms are viewed as the end result of misuse, or using the body in an unbalanced or badly coordinated way. The solution therefore is to remove the cause of the problem by fundamentally improving the way ‘use’ ourselves. And this is brought about through an ongoing process of re-education – which is what Alexander lessons are all about!