Benefits of the Alexander Technique...some personal testimonials
Alexander Technique for Physical Stress
The effect lessons with Gail have had on me has been fantastic. Before I started my lessons I thought I was standing with good posture but generally never gave it too much thought. I have had generalized aches and pains throughout my back over the past 10 years or so that have never resolved. After a short course of Alexander Technique lessons with Gail I experienced reduced aches and pains in my spine, knees and ankles and feel stronger generally in my body. I find driving more comfortable, and am conscious of how I use my body in everyday moving about, lifting the children and at work.
Gail's teaching style is very warm and friendly, and she takes care to meet my level of understanding with the terminology and what we are trying to achieve. She is very hands-on and dynamic, which greatly helped me really feel the difference between before and after.
As an Osteopath, I have been able to work together with Gail on patients, to achieve deeper results. Simply put, my Osteopathic treatments adjust the tension levels of the patient's body, so that it is more pliable when Gail is then teaching correct bio-mechanical use to achieve correct posture and prevent further symptoms. Although my understanding of bio-mechanics is detailed, I have not been taught how to teach this to a patient. However, I am now considering additional training.
Denis McTurk, Osteopath
After only a few Alexander Technique lessons, I find I am now less tired at the end of the day. With the better balance that the Alexander Technique has taught me, there is noticeably less strain through my joints and I feel an overall better connection with my body.
I have observed how the Alexander Technique has helped my patients over the years, particularly in reducing postural strain on their lower backs and hips. Often it has been the difference between having repeated episodes of strain with return visits to the Osteopath and, as a result of their Alexander Technique lessons with Gail, living a pain-free life with a back that can cope with daily demands.
With neck strains and associated headaches I have noticed a marked and sustained improvement with those patients having Alexander Technique lessons.
Gail's teaching is engaging, enthusiastic and sensitive. She is very good at tuning in to my specific needs
I used to believe when I was a young sculptor with Henry Moore that I could lift any weight. It never occurred to me that constantly lifting great lumps of stone and carving materials was weakening my back. It took until I was 45 for the final 'breakpoint' to occur as I picked a large trailer up and walked sideways with it. I couldn't work, couldn't move, couldn't bend, couldn't lift and had to stay in bed for 3 weeks. Then a physiotherapist put things back enough to carry on with life reasonably well, but now I could put it out again bending down to pick up a pencil, never mind getting bags of plaster out of the car. The constant putting it out and having the physio patch it back up was weakening it in the long term and so one day my physio introduced me to Gail and said "She'll make a new man of you!"
After Alexander Technique, I only had to go once or twice more for physio in those early years when I'd done something very stupid and even then I didn't need the full 6 physio sessions - only 1 or 2 and I was ok. I don't go at all for physio now and I'm 61! I prefer what I have received from Gail, i.e. once having strengthened it with her, strategies to avoid the trouble flaring up again rather than getting it put right having damaged it.
The second picture (of Gail working on me) was taken by the local newspaper in 1992 when I was in the process of having Alexander Technique sessions. I went from strength to strength as she got my body thinking that the bottom of my back was not isolated - everything was connected and everything depended on everything else being in balance. I felt better in myself as well, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too - she did indeed make a new man of me!
One of the many glorious breakthroughs was when I could sit through planning meetings from 5pm to midnight in comfort. Before I would be in agony and would be changing position the whole time. I moved to France some years ago and have continued to progress by myself by using the Alexander Technique principles Gail taught me. Basically, I feel I have the Alexander Technique experience to deal with problems but also Alexander Technique helps me to think ahead to avoid doing something damaging. I think about what I do with my body, not just the basic tasks, but how I use my carving tools, how I move my feet or my pelvis to give myself stability, balance and a dynamic, fluid position as I work or as I lift bags of plaster etc. All these years on, my wife will still say, if she sees me in an awkward corner trying to do some plumbing, "What would Gail think of you doing it like that?"
My basic back problem from lifting the trailer when I was 45 is still there. However, I would have been incapable of doing 99% of the things I can do at 61 and I would have been seriously crippled by now. Instead, most days I have a comfortable existence, living a normal life with confidence and relaxation and without painkillers. I am still doing physically demanding things like lifting heavy stone when necessary, but I am able to do it and I can recover from it within a day - sometimes within moments. I have a really strong back now, I take care, I have strategies and I would be utterly astonished if I had to go to the doctor again in the rest of my life about my back (not been since Alexander Technique!). There are certain markers in my life and Alexander Technique is one of those, which I will carry with me forever.
Gail is a very patient, sincere and approachable teacher - a naturally warm person who is comfortable to be with. She has a professional care and understanding of a student's problems and works very much on the personal level, i.e. applying Alexander Technique to my life and to my problems. I felt I could rely on her and trust her implicitly - essential for real progress.
She made the sessions easy to follow and for me it was an absorbing journey, coaxing and re-educating the muscles and joints into fractionally different positions and making re-connections in order to achieve the natural lightness and energy which most of us have lost.
Sue B, Civil Servant
I had a nagging chronic lower back pain, for which I was frequently taking painkillers. I couldn't even lift my 2-year-old son up or play with him properly and I felt old before my time.
Within 6 weeks of starting Alexander Technique with Gail, I no longer needed the painkillers. The pain in my back has completely gone and my back is much stronger. I now feel freer, younger and more empowered. I have a 'can do' approach to my life which was not possible before! I completed my Alexander Technique course two years ago; I know how to look after my back and I've had no problems since then.
Gail is an enthusiastic teacher who de-mystifies the Technique, making the concepts easy to understand and to put into practice in everyday life. She has gentle but confident hands, not ' pushy-pully' but really effective.
Sue H, Counsellor and T'ai Chi Instructor
I had had a serious back problem for very many years with over-straight posture, which left it extremely vulnerable. It would spasm and be acute and chronic as well.
Now with Alexander Technique my back is not nearly as vulnerable as it was. I have gained stamina and strength and my lower back is much improved. My reserves are greater, so that if back problems do manifest, they don't manifest so often or for so long and they recover much more quickly. I notice also that my breathing is freed up by my improved posture.
Gail is the best! Her teaching helps me understand. It takes the mystique out of the Technique and makes me feel more self-sufficient rather than feeling I am being "done unto" and wholly dependent. She teaches me how to look after myself! Alongside her verbal teaching, her hands guide me adeptly into my greater physical potential and leave me with a general feeling of well-being.
John G, Biology Lecturer
It was lower back pain that provoked my interest in the Alexander Technique, and a chance encounter with one of her satisfied clients that led me to Gail. I suspected that the cause of the pain, which develops when standing, might be years of limping along with a deteriorating hip, followed by rupture of the Achilles' tendon on the same leg about a year after a successful hip replacement.
Gail quickly identified postural problems, although whether they originated with the hip and Achilles' issues remains a moot point. We had only a short time before her scheduled move to Yorkshire, so we agreed on a series of sessions that were fewer and longer than I understand is the norm. Gail proved to be an effective teacher and very easy to get along with. She has an impressive ability to spot even the subtlest of adjustments (or so they seemed to me) and communicates very clearly. I now have a good understanding of the postural changes I should be trying to make, so any further progress will be entirely down to my ability to make them happen. Sometimes it feels like keeping plates spinning: while I concentrate on correcting one alignment, another reverts to old ways.
It is probably a bit too early to assess the full extent of the benefits from the Alexander Technique. I started with an open mind, but also a scientist's reluctance to accept assertion when there is no evidence base and resistance to 'new age mumbo-jumbo'. However, I seem already to have reduced my back pain and have every intention of continuing to follow Gail's prescription as closely as I can. I have invested in one of the many Alexander Technique self-help books to help keep me on track. It looks like I am in danger of becoming another convert!
Helen O'R, Health Visitor
I have had years of monthly osteopathy for chronic back pain, followed by chiropractic treatment, but because that was very passive, although initially beneficial, there were no long-term benefits. Standing was always a problem - gardening, housework, the daily activities of my life. In my work, I had difficulty bending, reaching, sitting, etc, so by the evening I would be irritable and in pain in my back and would be taking more and more analgesics to the point where I was carrying them in my handbag which I thought, in my 40s, was unacceptable.
So I pursued the Alexander Technique. The main benefit is that it has empowered me to do something myself to improve my back symptoms. So now my back is certainly better, I can now do everyday activities without pain and in a safer way, and now I feel confident to do things where before I would avoid them because of the resulting pain. I'm now not carrying analgesics and I am no longer dependent on painkillers.
In work, because I feel able, I am even considering increasing my hours from part-time to full-time, where before my body would not have allowed me even to consider it because it took the rest of the week to recover from even part-time work. When we went to the Lake District on a holiday recently, I walked 6 days out of 7, including climbing Helvellyn without suffering and before I wouldn't even have considered doing it. That for me was so exciting!
Gail's teaching is informed and is based on evidence and strong imagery (which is very helpful when using recall). The skeleton is often used and, as a health professional, it gives me the confidence that she knows what she's talking about. It's also fun and I do appreciate that she has been very accommodating in the flexibility of the lessons, i.e., with an outline programme she is happy to adjust our work according to what is needed on the day.
I feel we have worked together equally and honestly, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions. I find the 'hands-on' very therapeutic and I look forward to the table work. Gail has energy in her hands-on work and this allows my body to release and prepares me for the teaching section that comes afterwards.
Having now completed the course and having bought Gail's revision CDs, I feel confident that I can continue with the Alexander Technique principles myself. The CDs wouldn't work if you had not done the course with Gail but if you have, then they are a good trigger for recalling what we have learned in the sessions. I thought the presentation of the CDs was very professional.
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Neck and shoulder problems
Anne L, Retired Bookkeeper
My head / neck connection was out and it had got to the stage where it was very painful and I was even passing out. I couldn't move my head to the left at all, I had bad headaches and it sometimes used to go down into my shoulder as well. I was not able to do anything - I couldn't ride in the car, I couldn't go for walks, I couldn't sit down for more than half an hour. I couldn't do my own shopping, I couldn't do housework, I hardly slept and my life had virtually come to a standstill.
I saw a physio who, having done some work on my neck, recommended me to go to Gail for some Alexander Technique. Gail made an initial assessment and could see where and how my whole body was twisted. Lying down was very uncomfortable for me plus my constant dizziness meant Gail had to devise a special way of working with me and gradually we made headway.
Once I mastered the art of sitting correctly and walking correctly, I improved by leaps and bounds. Now my neck is much, much better. I can move it freely left and right, I have very few headaches and they are less severe, I'm only rarely dizzy now and my shoulder is back to normal.
Lying down is easy now and I am sleeping regularly. I can now ride in the car, go for walks, go to the theatre and sit through a whole performance plus I can help with the shopping and the housework. My life has returned to normal and I feel more alive than I have for years!
I found Gail a very good teacher. She showed me visual aids such as the skeleton and muscle charts plus she gave me images to focus on. I could easily then think about what I needed to do. If she had just told me without showing me the bones or giving me the images, I would have found it hard to apply the Technique myself.
She is very friendly and easy to talk to and she gives the impression of being a happy person. She moved away in 2000 and I have only seen her twice a year since then but nevertheless it's all there in my body and I know what I have to do to keep myself healthy and mobile.
Audrey, Retired Teacher
One of the top vertebrae in my neck had turned sideways and was very painful. In addition, I had aches and pains and general wear and tear in my whole body.
The neck vertebra was physically put back into place but it was the Alexander Technique that got the tissues better. Being able to stand and sit with my head in the right position and knowing how to use my neck muscles and balance my head in a free and fluid way all healed the damage.
I felt more in control of myself and felt I could do something to improve my aches and pains, particularly in times of stress. The Technique is a great stress-buster and has given me a feeling of confidence. I have the tools now to help myself for the rest of my life.
With Gail, I had a combination of individual sessions and group sessions. She is an absolutely brilliant teacher - supportive, compassionate and gets her message across in a very friendly and positive way.
Philip, Research Scientist
The main cause of all my neck and back problems was posture. I was having problems turning my head back from the right to centre and had to push it back with my hand. I would get spasms in my back, especially when leaning over at certain angles, plus sciatica down both legs. I live in a very stressful environment and this was making the situation even worse.
Alexander Technique has helped on all counts. Now my neck is very flexible and my back is improving. It still has its moments playing up, but I now know the causes of that and can correct it. When I am stressed, Alexander Technique does have a calming effect and helps to relieve the stress in my life.
Gail is vivacious and understanding with a positive outlook on everything.
Gwyneth R,Retired University Lecturer
Before, I was aware that I was walking in a strained and uncomfortable way and I was holding my shoulders and my head at an uncomfortable angle. I knew things were wrong, but I didn't know what to do about it. Because I spend hours at a desk writing essays and articles, my shoulders were becoming hunched and my neck and back were uncomfortable and painful. My wrists and fingers would often be painful too after a couple of hours of writing.
Now after my Alexander Technique course, all of this is comfortable, it's less strain, and I can maintain this ease for hours on end. I notice in particular writing and sitting for several hours at a desk feels much more fluid and flexible. Before I was imposing on my body, forcing it to be in a particular position or to do things in particular ways, whereas now I feel I am working with my body and I am finding out how the body wants to perform a particular action and so I work with that. The bonus is that it's much easier to perform the task!
After sitting writing for hours at a desk, when I stand up I'm not aware that I have been doing so because my body doesn't feel stiff or achey or painful like it used to do for several hours afterwards. The result is that I have an overall sense of being in charge of myself, i.e., to get my body to do what I want effortlessly and without long-term damage. Therefore, I feel light and confident that I know for the rest of my life how to face any future challenges.
One of the things I liked about the course was learning about a particular joint, say, with bones and charts and then feeling empowered applying that knowledge to a particular everyday task like bending or walking. Now I always have a sense when I get up in the morning that this is going to be a good day and that whatever happens I'll be able to handle it confidently and easily - and that's physically, but also I feel a sense of wellbeing at a mental and emotional level too.
Gail adjusts the way she teaches to the individual very much in that she ensures she understands what the person's daily routine and approach to life is. Then she uses her experience to select a teaching style that is going to be most successful in helping each individual. Gail is constantly picking up clues and finding out more about how each individual person reacts to things and so she then modifies and expands her teaching accordingly. As a teacher myself, I appreciate this sense of flexibility and constant fine-tuning of Gail's approach.
She is clearly not a 'blueprint' teacher in that she is constantly adjusting and modifying her teaching for each student. I find Gail very friendly, relaxed and lighthearted in her manner and this makes the whole learning process easier. Because of the relaxed atmosphere Gail creates, I feel I can come to a session and say I had difficulty with a particular piece of work and then I am helped in understanding why I found it difficult and then I am encouraged to continue.
Marion P, Artist
Before Alexander Technique I was limited by aches and pains in what I could do in everyday activities such as gardening and housework. Now I can do these things much more freely and without pain. My neck and shoulders were always very rigid and this affected my lower back. I have learned how to use my body in a way that's kinder to it and more beneficial to me generally. When I think about my contemporaries, a lot of them have chest pains or arthritis and they look 'old' and they move 'old'. One friend is even walking with a frame now.
I feel for my age (72) that I am pretty mobile and am not so limited in my activities as I think I would have been without Alexander Technique. When I'm painting, I've learned that if I pay attention to how I sit and how I hold my body, then I can work for longer and with less distraction through discomfort. It's now also easier to maintain fluidity because I am using my whole body rather than staying fixed and only moving my wrists and fingers.
Gail's teaching style is eclectic in that she uses anything and everything that helps - I find that the background anatomy knowledge with which she teaches has been extremely helpful in enabling me to visualise what my body should be doing or not doing, i.e., 'good use' or 'bad use' of my body. She is very outgoing, cheerful, helpful and able to discuss anything and so is very supportive. Gail's 'hands-on' work is very clear, in that I do feel as it's happening the difference it is making to my body, energy and wellbeing.
Viv S, Retired Public Sector
When I originally came for Alexander Technique, I didn't walk - I just plodded heavily. I also had all this tension in my neck and shoulders. Now when I walk I can move much more freely and easily, and I feel lighter and more balanced. I know how to free my neck and shoulders if I'm feeling stressed, but mostly I don't need to do that because my posture overall is in alignment. I've been taught how to breathe correctly and that contributes to feeling generally more relaxed.
Gail inspires confidence and treats me as an individual, addressing my own previous injuries and the things I need to do in my daily life. She has a friendly manner and takes great trouble to explain the Alexander Technique concepts clearly and finds a suitable description that chimes with me as an individual.
She tries to find different explanations and works hard to explain things from lots of different angles to ensure I understand at a deep level. She searches for the right metaphor to explain the technique and this is assisted by her hands directing my body into the right balance.
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Rayann L, Retired Science Teacher
I had an accident when a car and trailer crashed into the back of my car and I had serious neck whiplash injury and back injuries. The hospital told me to take painkillers which did little to help. I tried other things and then I knew I had to find something which would help on a long-term basis. I read an article in a newspaper about Alexander Technique and contacted Gail.
From my neck being very painful and very stiff from the whiplash injury, after Alexander Technique it is now very free and mobile and I can spin my head right round without any pain. My doctor is amazed at the improvement! My body is also generally much freer and more supple. When I walked, I used to have to stop every so often and have a rest because the pain was so bad. Now I don't have any pain and I can walk further than before and without stopping at all.
I can also reach up to high shelves which I couldn't do before. I know how to sit comfortably for as long as I want to where before I was always moving around trying (and not succeeding!) to get comfortable. Driving my car is much easier now I know how to sit and how to drive properly.
Gail has a wonderful way - gentle, sympathetic and very concerned to give me the best she can. She is always very pleasant and so helpful. Her hands are very soothing and always find exactly what I need to relieve tension or pain and they show me what I need to do myself. She's saved my life with one particular release exercise that she has taught me to do on the floor to improve my back. It has made a vast difference to my posture and to my walking. I shall miss Gail dreadfully when she moves back to Yorkshire.
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Twisted Pelvis & Spine
Jamuna, Mature Student
I had had horrendous pain for nearly 3 years, which for a single mum of 37 with 3 young children was a nightmare. My pelvis and spine were "twisted like a corkscrew" according to the osteopath and I had a lot of knee pain too. My doctor could only offer painkillers and unfortunately the osteopath was not making any difference.
I couldn't even walk round my own house without being in a lot of pain and walking outside was out of the question. It was really painful to lift my baby son and I couldn't even raise my legs to swing them into the car; I had to lift my legs up with my hands to put them in, once I was sitting in the car seat. It was agony to hoover, get washing in and out of the washing machine, bend down with a dustpan and brush, make the beds…
Any kind of normal family life with my three very active boys was impossible and I thought I was going to become old before my time. After three years of this, I was recommended by my homeopath to go to Gail for Alexander Technique. I went, but definitely as a 'last resort'.
I thought my posture was good, so it was a surprise to learn how I was damaging myself every day. By the end of the very first session, the pain in my knees had completely gone (and has never returned) and my pelvis and spine had started on the road to recovery.
Alexander Technique has given me a completely new lease of life and I am able to walk, lift, sit, drive and play with my children without being in pain. I can now do all the housework without thinking about any restrictions to my body. It all flows easily, whatever I do, because I know how to position my body and how to move my body. I feel fantastic!
Now my body feels comfortable and so much lighter, the Technique has freed me up to do the things in my life that I hadn't been able to do before like go for re-training. It has helped me mentally, in that I am in a much better frame of mind for the future. I don't feel I have any limitations now, so I can move freely and continue to move on in my life.
Gail is a very encouraging, patient and thorough teacher. She empowers you to have control over your own structural health.
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Dave Ja, Retired Businessman
Until I was in my mid-thirties I was lean and fit, playing sport three times a week and working in the garden with no trouble. In the intervening years I developed degeneration of the discs in my spine which meant bouts of severe pain and a complete lack of energy. I felt like a 90-year- old with a 'go-faster' brain; one day I couldn't step up onto the kerb without putting my briefcase down and lifting each leg in turn with my hands.
Physiotherapy unfortunately made it a lot worse, but a rest cure worked. Six months later, however, my back locked with some awkward lifting. Fortunately I recovered quickly but thereafter I developed pains whenever working at benches, on my car, sitting at my computer (which I do for hours) or working in the garden. Now retired, my back pain was detracting from the joys of life almost every day.
I was persuaded by my wife to try Alexander Technique. In the first session Gail began by analysing how I was no longer using my body as nature intended. Over decades I had built up habits of movement and posture that caused physical stresses which were now resulting in aches and pains. The sessions with Gail have been a process of unlearning bad habits and relearning the good habits we were programmed with at birth but which somehow got lost on life's rough journey.
The second session was dramatic in its effects. Muscles I never thought about were gently teased into relaxation, especially my neck, without any "battering". After this session, I reversed my car out of a tight parking spot with minimum effort, having achieved an immediate and full rear view simply by turning my head with complete ease. An astonishing experience after my customary difficulties with turning around, accompanied by much grimacing and groaning!
And so it has continued, sometimes with similar dramatic events, although usually with more subtle changes. I now know how my body is supposed to be used and can put this knowledge into practice. I know how to walk, stand, sit, lift, drive, bend and turn without damaging myself. I can sit at the computer for hours, work at workbenches, work on my classic cars and in the garden without stiffening up or pulling muscles. Amazingly, my singing voice is better too and I am back to riding my bike! If only I'd known about Alexander Technique before I had any problems . . . . . . . . .
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My left shoulder was raised habitually because of my close work with a microscope all day and so I was always getting pulled muscles in my back because they were so tense. I used to pull a muscle if I sneezed or put my jumper on or something and I always knew it was about to happen anytime.
That doesn't happen any more now. I haven't had a problem in my shoulder or back since doing Alexander Technique and it's now 2 years since I finished working with Gail. My posture has changed, my stance has changed, so the core problem has been solved rather than the symptom.
I liked how Gail explained why we were about to do a piece of work. She was open and accessible in her teaching, in that if I wasn't sure about something, I always felt happy about discussing things.
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As "The Last Resort"
I had had constant back pain for 10 years and it was getting progressively worse. I'd been to osteopaths and chiropractors but although they sorted out the immediate pain, it turned out to be only a short-term solution. The pain returned because the core problem was postural and so my chiropractor suggested Alexander Technique.
I also had problems with pain in my legs but this hadn't been the overriding problem and I hadn't connected the two pains (back and legs) to the same condition of postural misalignment. It was only when I went to Gail that I realised that I had a catalogue of postural problems which were all contributing to the overall feeling of oppressive physical and mental stress. This was wearing me down and making all aspects of my life very difficult.
You carry your feelings and reactions to stress, or to life generally, in your body. What Alexander Technique does is show you how to recognise the physical effects of this and to give you the tools to deal with it. Gail identified the various postural problems quickly and easily and we embarked on a series of sessions, both group and individual.
I developed a growing perception of how the body is meant to be. At first you have no perception of what's wrong because your body becomes used to its problems, but very quickly you start to be more aware and to be able to make changes and Alexander Technique provides a very accessible and easy way to help yourself. Gail is an experienced teacher and I need her to guide me and show me how I need to be. Then it's up to me. I can go home and work on the changes myself, so that bit by bit, my body has been able to heal itself and grow stronger.
I have gone from constant pain to very infrequent pain. Most of the time I am completely pain-free and mobile. I have developed an awareness of when I slip into bad habits - my body now tells me and I listen to it and I know what to do to avoid setbacks. One of the most useful aspects of the Technique in terms of my stress levels is the breathing. I feel really centred and focused within only 3 or 4 breaths. My mind settles and I can feel the breath invigorating every part of my body at the same time.
Now I get a good night's sleep because I'm sleeping in the correct position. Driving no longer causes the pains that it did. At work I am a lot more focused and comfortable at my desk. Walking is no longer painful. Amazingly, my skin colour has improved and people comment on how different I look, both in my skin colour and in how I carry myself. They say (and I feel) I look well and relaxed and far less stressed than I used to. For me, the Alexander Technique is a successful, long-term solution, which will last me all my life.
Gail is a friendly, engaging and clear teacher. She is also responsive to me personally and so I feel she adapts her work to suit me specifically. I benefit as a result and I feel that I am an equal partner in the process. She uses anatomical models and charts to back up the Alexander Technique concepts and I felt reassured by this in terms of the efficacy of the Technique.
Her hands-on work is very calming and non-intrusive. It's almost a welcome neutralising feeling, which is subtle but powerful at the same time and enables you to reconnect with your body's natural and effortless way of operating.
Sara H, Mini-Supermarket Owner
I had suffered since being a teenager with a serious curling over of my back. I was in my late thirties when I bought the shop, and after a couple of years working long hours I was starting to get the odd bout of backache and dizziness and the shape of my back was getting worse. I knew I had to do something about my 'hump', although at this stage it was mainly cosmetic.
I went to see someone who straightened my back but within weeks it had curled back over and my treatment had left me in terrible pain for three months. I was in bed most of the time, I couldn't lift, I couldn't sit for longer than ten minutes, I couldn't do anything and I spent my days and nights lying down. During this period of intense pain, the person I had seen sent me for very expensive procedures including a private MRI-scan, private X-rays, a private brain scan, etc, and she kept telling me it was "something serious".
Of course, I felt very stressed about the whole situation, which turned out to be needless because the tests all came back negative. I then went to my GP, who told me I had ME with no treatment for my back or my low energy to offer. I felt absolutely desperate because I felt like an old woman, in pain and with no energy. I'd got to the stage where I simply didn't want to live.
I'd heard about Alexander Technique a few years beforehand and I now thought that as a last resort I would try it. At this point, my hump was really big, I was constantly dizzy, constantly in pain, I couldn't do anything at home and I'd had to give up working in the shop altogether. As soon as I started Alexander Technique with Gail, within a few weeks I felt taller, the pain started to subside, and my back started to straighten naturally without much effort, which was really weird!! The dizziness started to disappear, I became far less tense and stressed, but the best thing of all was that I had hope.
Within a few months, as my back got stronger, I was able to work a few hours a day and now that I've finished my Alexander Technique course, I'm completely back to normal. My hump is barely visible, I am rarely in pain, I have very occasional dizziness, I'm back at work doing full days, I can lift what I want and I can sit for as long as I want.
I can actually do whatever I want. I don't feel tense at all now. I've learned how to walk, sit, drive, bend, lift, etc, properly, and the best thing is that this is permanent. I've changed my back for good. It's hard to believe when I look back - my Mum said I looked like a shrivelled old woman and now she can't believe that I look better than ever! And that's how I feel.
I am very shy and I dreaded going to anyone for anything involving physical contact. Once I'd heard Gail's voice on the phone however (she was very down-to-earth and yet bubbly and warm), I thought I'd give it a go. Once I had met her, I relaxed and just looked forward to each session and she was as happy as I was with the success of each session. She explains everything brilliantly and makes it sound easy, so I felt confident about doing it. Her hands are really warm and as she works, I can imagine what she's doing because she has taught me with lots of images as well as with the bones. I now feel I can look after myself. I am balanced and I can do things effortlessly.
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In 1991 when I was only 37, I had to retire for medical reasons from the job I loved as my county's first mounted policewoman. I had always been a keen horserider and took part in dressage competitions.
So it was a devastating blow when I developed arthritis of the spine, hips, wrists and feet and had to give all of it up, being told I would never work or ride again.
The final straw was when I was walking through a shopping centre and an elderly woman with a walking stick overtook me. I went home in tears over losing control of my body so young after being so active. The thought of never getting on a horse's back again finished me off and I know I would have been on crutches if I hadn't discovered the Alexander Technique.
However, after working with Gail, I gradually learned how to relax my contorted muscles and things started to improve. I could school my horse, Ben, and go for hacks. After further working with Gail, my seat became deeper and the feeling of the horse's movement became a joint experience for the horse and myself. I school young horses and I find they now move with greater freedom and are relaxed and enjoying their schoolwork.
I went back to work as a fundraiser and raised £1.25 million for a Riding for the Disabled Centre, at which I now teach. You don't need to ride to understand how a rider's body interacts with a horse's body and how a rider needs to be balanced. And so I could easily apply what Gail was teaching me to riding.
Gail looks at the person as an individual and tailors the work accordingly. She takes a holistic overview and is vivacious, enthusiastic, caring and supportive. Her hands are both calming and energising and are in tune with the individual's needs. She has the most delightful manner, which meant that with her support I felt I could reach my potential.
Nick R, Filmmaker and Education Officer
I had arthritis and a lack of cartilage in my hip and I was awaiting a hip re-lining op.
Alexander Technique helped a lot in terms of my life generally and specifically in terms of preparing my body for the operation. I learned how to stand, kneel, bend and sit correctly to keep everything balanced. After the hip operation, I used Alexander Technique a lot to help my body to heal and balance well. I was very aware of my posture all the time and I have now made a complete recovery.
Gail is an excellent teacher. She has the personal touch and a friendly approach.
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Ceridwen L-M, Cultural Historian and Critic
I decided to try Alexander Technique because I was becoming increasingly disabled by osteoarthritis in my knees, which had started when I was in my late 30s. Fifteen years later I was never comfortable, often in pain, could stand for only 5 minutes, could not walk for more than 10 minutes even on the flat, and stairs and hills were a nightmare. A walking stick was a few months away and I faced the real possibility of having to move from the home I loved and ending up in a wheelchair within a couple of years.
After each session with Gail, even the first few, I found I could do a little more. Now, after completing the course, at 58 I am more mobile than I have been for twenty years, I can stand comfortably for an hour or so if I have to, and walking for a couple of hours, even without resting, is a pleasure, not an impossibility. I can garden again and chop firewood. Hills do not fill me with despair. I feel light on my feet (and have been told I look it!); the rusting old crock has become a smooth-working, well-oiled machine.
Coming from a family of scientists for whom the airy-fairy is anathema, I particularly appreciated that Gail was able to explain in detail the anatomical basis of the technique, and this helped me to understand and work with the gentle manipulation of the joints which gradually coaxed me back into the right posture and brought back my long-lost freedom of movement.
She was always encouraging and optimistic, setting me further goals all the time without ever making unrealistic promises. As a result, my progress has far exceeded the initial expectations. She has always welcomed my questions and taken great pains to find the right image that would allow me to visualise a movement and help me make it. Apart from restoring my mobility, Gail has been a tremendous help in speeding my recovery after eye surgery and after a broken arm: the hospital physiotherapist was amazed at my rapid progress and sent me packing!
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Barbara, Therapy Assistant Practitioner
I had Perthe's disease as a child and by the time I was 18 had severe arthritis in my hip. After a couple of operations and a load of physiotherapy, heat treatment, etc., I struggled on, waiting till I was old enough to have a new hip.
I first heard about Alexander Technique from Gail back in the eighties when she began to study to become a teacher and I eventually found an Alexander Technique teacher in my town and had lessons prior to having my hip replacement. These lessons helped me be aware and control the worst aspects of my pain and walking. I had the operation in August 1992 and after some time had passed, I contacted Gail to begin having Alexander Technique lessons from her.
I learned how to sit, stand, walk and drive my car the "Alexander way" from a wonderful teacher. Fourteen years after my op I have just been told by the surgeon in Glasgow that he is amazed to say that barring accidents he sees no reason why my replacement hip shouldn't last even longer - this after being told not to expect any more than between eight and ten years! I put this down to having been taught by Gail how to minimise the strain on my hip through Alexander Technique.
Gail has taught me well and I have kept it all going even after she moved away in 2000 and I only see her twice a year. In particular, I am very aware of her 'direction' - this is for me one of the best things about Alexander Technique - that subtle 'hands-on' direction which is different from my 'normal' position and which then allows me to 'direct' myself. Gail is an insightful, innovative and imaginative Alexander Technique teacher and I have a lot to thank her for.
Margaret B, Retired Housewife
I had a hip replacement 24 years ago and, at the age of 83, have just had it completely replaced again ten weeks ago. I also have curvature and spondylitis in my spine and walking on the crutches was slow and very painful.
My daughter, who is also a student of Gail's, recommended I have some Alexander Technique. I started two weeks after my operation and on the very first session, I felt much better and was able to walk without pain and more confidently with the crutches.
Now eight weeks later, my back is changing shape and is much stronger. I definitely feel better. Walking is easier and I feel better balanced. I can handle the crutches better too. My back's a lot straighter and I feel more centred. I can sit more comfortably and I can get in and out of bed more quickly and more easily. Bending is much improved and doesn't hurt my hips. I was told by the consultant at Oswestry that the groin pain after the operation would continue for a year and it has now gone after only two months.
The whole thing is smoother with Alexander Technique - a definite improvement with everything Gail's taught me (which my daughter helps me to practise at home until it's second nature). Even my thinking is clearer and I feel happier in myself too.
Gail is a brilliant teacher and she's lovely with it - very kind and puts me at ease. Her hands feel brilliant when she guides me - it's a gentle but firm, confident feeling and it makes me feel confident I can do things.
I was really desperate. I didn't know which way to go with my hip and back pain and I think I was in denial as well about the state of my hip. I used to have a lot of back pain and could not sit for long in the cinema, in a car, etc. Walking was difficult and my favourite activity, dancing, was impossible.
Going for Alexander Technique was such a worthwhile step. I learned how the body actually works, how it needs to be in balance and how I could help my body help itself. Not only did the new awareness and application help ease my discomfort prior to surgery for my hip replacement, but the top Birmingham surgeon was clearly impressed and encouraged by the general shape I was in before he operated and by my speedy recovery rate afterwards.
Subsequent check-ups over the past four years have confirmed a 100% success rate and there is no doubt at all in my mind that this is in no small measure due to my implicit belief in all I have learned from The Alexander Technique and continue to practice four years down the line. As far as I am concerned, a skilled surgeon and an excellent Alexander teacher have given me back my life.
I am more supple now with every year I continue to practice my Alexander Technique and can walk, sit in the cinema, drive, bend, garden, even enjoy high-energy African dance, completely pain-free. I understand what I need to do and therefore I can apply the Alexander Technique principles to anything I want to do at any time. I don't even have to think about it much of the time - my body now knows how to bend, sit, walk etc. It's very empowering.
For me Gail is the best. She helped me through a very difficult time with a sensitive, sympathetic and supportive approach. Her teaching ability is brilliant, her hands are warm and quietly confident and each session became another exciting challenge on my journey. Gail listens so well and she put me at my ease instantly from the beginning. I love her sense of fun - it's always good to be around a happy person!
Christine, Carer and Ex-B&B Proprietor
I had neck, shoulder, back and hip problems due to heavy bed-making and cleaning duties from running my B&B for years. I was waiting for a hip replacement when I went to Gail and wanted to get myself bodywise in a good condition for the operation. A friend who was already a student of Gail's had bullied me into going to see her, even though I said I couldn't spare the time.
Once I had a session, I was hooked! I couldn't afford not to go because the benefits were immediate in that very first session. I only walked across the room and sat down and Gail had already noticed that I put most of my weight through one side and I now understand this was distorting my posture.
In one session Gail cured me of my neck and shoulder pains by showing me how I was damaging myself when I sat up in bed reading and when I pulled myself up with my neck to get out of bed. I now know how to do these things easily and without damaging my spine.
Gradually I learned how to do simple things like bending and walking with an ease I hadn't known was possible. It took the pressure off my hip and felt much more comfortable. Sitting is now so easy I don't even think about it; my body has got used to it and doesn't want to sit in the old way because it immediately hurts. In everything I do I can now move smoothly, with less effort and more grace.
I've just had my hip replacement and the staff at Bronglais Hospital were and are quite surprised by "how awfully well I am doing". I am getting more and more mobile every day by using my Alexander Technique to get myself back into balance.
I'm not keen on the "crunchy manipulation stuff" and Gail's hands are very effective but gentle with it, which I like. I'm the kind of person who likes to know 'why' and she is great at explaining everything. She teaches with a gentle and very positive approach, which makes me want to go on working with the subtle changes at home.
Dot T, Angora Goat Breeder
Alexander Technique has helped me to reposition my foot in line with the correct hip position so that I can walk easily without strain.
Before the operation, Gail helped me to prepare the supporting muscles in the back and the leg and then directly after the operation, she showed me how to take the pressure off my hip and back so that they could heal. Then we worked on doing everyday tasks like sitting, walking, getting up from the chair, etc, in such a way that my hips and back now work smoothly together in everything I do.
Gail is approachable, caring and gentle, and her teaching methods are practical in terms of explaining and demonstrating the Alexander Technique ideas, both through her use of the bones and models and through the use of her hands.
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Valerie, Retired Primary School Head Teacher
I kept noticing myself in shop windows with a bent back like an old lady and decided I must do something about it. I had increasing aches and pains in my back and shoulders and I don't believe in letting old age (I am 73) get the better of me! Specifically I had been told by my consultant at Bronglais Hospital that I needed a knee replacement due to an old injury and subsequent arthritis.
My chiropractor prescribed orthotics and recommended I go to Gail for Alexander Technique. I wanted to build up my muscles in the right way in preparation for the operation in six months' time.
I found the Alexander Technique amazingly effective and relaxing in terms of comfort and living a pain-free life. My posture has changed and I now know how to sit, stand and move naturally(rather than the "chin up, shoulders back, tummy in" method I learned as a child and which is actually quite uncomfortable to maintain).
Six months later, when I saw the consultant for my pre-op assessment appointment, he told me that, according to the original X-ray I was an urgent case. To his absolute surprise, however, on meeting me again, seeing how I moved, how I was in very little pain and after a clinical examination, he said (to my utter relief) that my knee replacement operation was not now necessary! In fact he said he knew when he saw me walk in that it was unlikely I needed the operation now. This was so unexpected that he had actually asked the nurse to check that the original X-rays were in fact mine!
He said that whatever I was doing was obviously very effective and advised me to carry on doing it. So I am continuing to make the Alexander Technique changes, which are keeping the pain at bay and improving my mobility. My family and friends have all commented on how much better I look and how my mobility has increased.
I also had a condition for six months called "trigger thumb", which was due for surgery. When I asked the (same!) consultant what the chances were of it righting itself without surgery, he said "less than 5%". The day after my last Alexander Technique session, I suddenly realised it wasn't 'triggering' any more. I have just seen the consultant and, yet again, he says "No surgery!"
Gail is fun but very professional and knows her stuff. I have learned a lot from her and enjoyed the sessions.
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Knees and Ankles
Beverley, Celtic Artist
I was born with my left leg shorter than my right, so all my life my left knee was overworked, trying to compensate. For three years I walked with a stick and I've had loads of operations. I was in agony all the time and I lived in fear of my knee collapsing on me, which it frequently did. I had no confidence, my life was a misery and I had to be medically retired from my draughtswoman's career. I was told by my consultant that my situation could only get worse each year and I felt very low.
In my early thirties, I was persuaded to go for Alexander Technique lessons. It's helped me restore balance to my body and regain my natural poise. I used to move badly and virtually had to learn how to walk again. I learned how to stay grounded and stable and I walked without fear and without a stick; at one point, I even ran! My confidence grew, I learned to drive and I got into a happy relationship and now have two lovely children. I did fear pregnancy would put pressure on my knee, but it was all totally pain-free!
I look and feel younger now in my forties (picture right) than I did in my twenties (picture left)as I have continued the Technique for myself. My confidence is sky-high and I welcome every day instead of just struggling through it.
Gail's teaching is fun, enjoyable and enthusiastic. There's something about her and I knew it was going to be interesting and exciting each session. She is so encouraging and made it look so easy and attainable that I always thought, "Yes, I can do it!"
John, Small Business Proprietor
After several injuries to my knees and ankles, I had to give up work and was told nothing could be done and I was to curtail my life according to my disabilities. I felt old before my time and could not walk more than 800 yards on the flat; hills were out of the question. I was close to becoming disabled for life.
Now after Alexander Technique, my life is back to normal! I can walk for a couple of hours along the rough and hilly coastal path and I really enjoy it. Before, I couldn't have contemplated lifting and moving objects in bulk, but now I'm starting up my own business. I felt I was written off but now I feel I have a new lease of life and am even starting judo!
Gail is a clear and logical teacher. I can't cope with anything airy-fairy and so her teaching made sense to me. She showed me cause and effect and why you would be in pain if joints are not working as they are meant to. The idea that you could learn the concepts to go off and work on it yourself appealed to me and I have continued to do that since completing my course 18 months ago.
Doreen, Retired Secretary
I was beginning to get a stiff neck and back and my knees were aching too.
After Alexander Technique, my balance has improved and I no longer feel any aches and pains. I now very rarely think of my neck or back, which I've learned how to avoid injuring. If I do overdo things, it only takes me 24 hours to get back to normal, where it would have taken a couple of weeks before. You can't expect pills and potions to cure you, so Alexander Technique helps you to help yourself instead.
Gail is ebullient, positive and fun and her teaching is easy to assimilate.
Kim Harvey, aged 12
My kneecap kept slipping and so I fell often and suffered cartilage damage. So when I was on crutches for a week or so, it took another three weeks or so before the pain went.
Since my Alexander Technique sessions, I haven't had any more falls and I know how to avoid problems now. I can walk better, I can sit better and have better posture so I am less tired (I used to be really tired all the time). I am not slumped over so there is less strain on the muscles.
Gail is always cheerful and we talked a lot. I found her easy to understand and I enjoyed my sessions.
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Dave Je, Research and Development Officer
For all of my life I've suffered with 'odd'-shaped feet, which, certainly later in life, have made walking more awkward and made me tire sooner than I feel I should when walking.
Now as part of the Alexander Technique process, the shape of my feet has been gradually changing and they have become stronger and more mobile, so much so that I sometimes stare down and ask "Are they my feet?!" I am much happier with the way they look and feel now and walking is much easier.
Gail is an encouraging and logical teacher.
My feet were flat and caused a strain on the whole of my body through lack of balance.
After Alexander Technique, I do not have to worry about my feet anymore. I don't even think about them and had almost forgotten I used to have such a problem with them. I am so used to them being how they are now, i.e. manageable (I know what to do to keep them balanced properly).
Gail is a brilliant teacher and very empowering. I can wholeheartedly say that. She coaxes the right response from me rather than drilling it into me.
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Jane M, Aromatherapist and Ex-Radiographer
From the age of 18 (and I now have 5 grown-up children), I have been back and forth to various doctors for the pain in both shoulders, in my neck and in my lumbar spine. I've had all sorts of treatment, painkillers and physio and nothing has worked. In the end I had to stop work altogether a year ago because both my shoulders had frozen up and I was in constant pain all over, spending 4-5 hours most days of the week lying on the sofa. It was miserable.
And then just within a few weeks of starting Alexander Technique with Gail, I am just so much improved and am back to work. I don't have the shoulder pain or the neck pain I had and my lumbar spine is a lot freer.
Gail is a highly skilled teacher who brings humour and sensitivity to her excellently planned and paced sessions. Her sound anatomically-based teaching is balanced by her ability to create a sense of peace and stillness. She is very supportive and easy to follow and it's obviously done with a lot of care for the subject, so the sessions are very relaxing. You have to go for Alexander Technique with Gail - it's just fabulous.
Ann S, Law Lecturer
I had always had very stiff shoulders and wrists plus sometimes I would also feel stiff in my lower back. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer and I recognise now that I was inadvertently causing the problems myself by how I was sitting, etc.
From my Alexander Technique sessions I feel I have gained a more relaxed posture and that I know now how to sit, how to use my arms, shoulders, wrists, neck and back with the result that everything is a good deal less stiff. My overall better posture has also helped my voice in terms of lecturing plus I feel a general reduction in stress levels.
Gail's teaching style is very positive and encouraging. You know that she knows what she is talking about and that inspires enthusiasm. The first time she worked on my neck with her light touch, I remember thinking it had never felt so comfortable ever before!
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Repetitive Strain Injury
Fiona, Health Care Worker
When I was still only in my twenties, I developed RSI (elbow pain) in both arms and I couldn't do anything for long, e.g. carrying a carrier bag for more than half an hour would give me pain, so it restricted my life because most tasks were unmanageable. It put a dampener on everything and I left quite depressed. I couldn't work as a medical secretary any longer and so had to give up work.
I had scans and orthopaedic treatment but I decided to try Alexander Technique straightaway. It seemed to fit my way of thinking - if you use the body how it's designed to be used, then it will heal itself. It was quite a journey. Gradually my RSI and the rest of my body began to heal over a period of time with Alexander Technique, I learned a new approach to performing everyday tasks in my life and my tolerance level increased in terms of how long I could do something for, especially typing. I used to only be able to type for 10 minutes, and now I can type for a couple of hours if I need to with a few little breaks.
I am back at work, having retrained into a new career supporting vulnerable people. I no longer feel depressed. Alexander Technique has been good for me emotionally to relieve stress, lessen tension and to keep my mind focused on the present. I am very pleased that I came across the Alexander Technique, as it has had a very positive effect on my life and well-being.
Gail is creative, fun and dedicated. Because she is enthusiastic about the Technique, it makes me as the student want to learn more. She is always coming up with new ideas of how to put something across, so that the student understands at a deeper level. She has a gentle but firm touch, which I found very important in order for me to make the subtle changes necessary.
I work as a homoeopath, which involves taking case notes at length throughout the day. At the time when I was getting my RSI symptoms, I was writing for about five hours a day. I used to get a pain in the bone on the top of my hand and a pain in my forearm. I would have to stop writing and drop my arm until I could use it again.
This problem was getting worse and worse and in the end I went to see Gail for some Alexander Technique. For me, it was like magic! She taught me how to write without any discomfort and I can now write for hours on end, without any aching in my wrist, hand or forearm. The way I run my practice nowadays means I only actually see patients one week out of a month and so I am writing solidly for that week from 9am through to 9pm.
Gail has a vision and is able to intuit where the problem stems from and therefore how to remedy it. My experience of Gail's teaching has been fun-filled sessions where I've somehow learned what I needed to without realising it. Therefore it was easy.
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Loss of Voice
Anne B, Law Lecturer
For several years before Alexander Technique, I had trouble with my back and my knee, but worst of all with losing my voice. I am a lecturer and my voice is therefore crucial to my work.
Examination under anaesthetic had shown nothing and speech therapy had helped a little but my voice was very 'thin' and unreliable and could go at any time if I did not avoid talking except when lecturing. It had therefore changed my personality and life was very difficult; I couldn't even joke with the children or go for coffee with colleagues or talk on the phone, etc.
I approached Alexander Technique with a lawyer's healthy scepticism, but by this time I was willing to give anything a try. The results were amazing! Alexander Technique made me realise that posture and the way you move affects the way you speak. The way you hold yourself and the way your head rests on your neck affects the quality of the voice you are able to produce.
Since Alexander Technique, my voice has a range, a quality and a depth to it and is now reliably there for me. I learned that if my back went, my voice went, so I have learned how to look after my back and neck and keep myself structurally healthy. My behaviour is not affected at all now, so I don't need to change my personality to save my voice; my life is back to normal.
Gail is really quite inspirational as a teacher! She just has such a lovely personality, is incredibly supportive and makes the work enjoyable and easy to pick up. Her hands are gentle and yet stimulating as they encourage the body to do what is right for it.
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I was very unaware of the unconnectedness of my body, e.g. unaware that my neck was sticking forward and that I was developing a dowager's hump. I am quite tall and I was stooping forward with unconnected tense arms. I had a general tightness everywhere but particularly in my throat and so therefore I had a general lack of mobility.
Since Alexander Technique my body feels a lot more awake and sensitive with more energy and a lot less tension. My shoulders feel a lot more released when I am sitting at the computer and I can sit for longer without getting tired. My throat is less tight and I am more aware of my body and feel more connected.
I am able to diagnose where the source of any tension is and can then choose to 'use' my body differently in order to release it. The effect of this is that I feel stronger, more flexible, more connected and it's made a huge difference to the way I do things day to day. My throat is less tight now and so my singing is much better and more enjoyable.
Gail offers a well-balanced mix of cerebral and kinaesthetic teaching. On one level, I can learn from her very clear and illustrated explanations of how the body works and how to use my body best and on the other hand, I learn a huge amount from her hands and where they move me; Gail positions me in various ways with her hands to show optimum body use. She is a lovely person to work with because she is so passionate about helping people learn.
Yvonne, District Nurse
I used to have tightness in the back of my head and I felt I was looking middle-aged and round-shouldered with a hump coming. I used to try and stiffen up to 'stand straight' and that was no good and didn't help my choral singing either.
Amazingly, I have only had two Alexander Technique sessions with Gail so far and already the tightness has gone altogether. I can sing in choir better because I'm standing better and I'm holding my head better. I'm aware of my 'easy' posture and I like Gail's images about the whole body being connected.
The first time I heard Gail's voice on the phone I thought she sounded pleasant and a happy person and she is indeed very easy to get along with. I feel heat when she has her hands on me and I can feel her stretching me very gently.
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Regular migraines used to make my life very difficult. With Alexander Technique I found my neck tension had been causing the migraines and my muscles had been using more energy because they had been out of alignment.
Since working with Gail I seldom have a migraine now and when I do, they are less severe.
Elaine, Medical Editor and Dietician
I suffered migraines for more than ten years and often took up to eight painkillers a day. I also had back pain, which worsened after working at my computer or driving long distances. I'd been so tense that even my jaw and fists were clenched when I was simply walking to the shops!
Because of my scientific background I was slightly sceptical about the Alexander Technique, but I went along anyway. After learning how to walk, sit and stand properly and how to do everything in a more relaxed fashion, I found I got far fewer migraines and they were less severe, so I don't often need to take painkillers now. Plus I chipped away at bad habits like gripping the steering wheel, hunching over my computer etc. and realised I could live without drugs!
Sally H, Shop Proprietress
I feel like a whole new person. I feel I've been able to open myself up, and not be so afraid. I used to be 'stuck' and terrified and suffer bad migraines every week. I had to go to the osteopath to unlock my head and my neck every couple of weeks, and then it dawned on me that I had to learn how to unlock it myself. I also used to get frequent panic attacks in public and in social situations. All of this meant I had a very hunched posture and I could see if I did nothing about it, I would end up like my mother who is now suffering badly.
I found Gail on the internet and having had Alexander Technique sessions with her, I now rarely get a migraine (every few months), and if I do, it is not nearly as severe. I have been going through a very stressful time recently, opening a new business, and it's a miracle that I haven't had a migraine! Now my head and neck feel free as the norm and if I feel myself tensing up, I know what to do about it and it has never reverted back to how it was. Now my panic attacks are less frequent and are less severe than they were. My overall posture is so very different now and I feel fluid and balanced in everything I do.
When I first rang Gail, I was encouraged by her open, friendly and accommodating attitude. I don't find it easy to relate to people but I found it really easy to talk to her about all my problems, both physical and mental/emotional. She is fabulous and I'm really going to miss her when she goes back to Yorkshire. She is easy to talk to, easy to understand, not pushy, very patient and understanding about my life, and she never shouts at me for not getting things right.
All this has made me stick at it for the longest I have ever stuck at anything. Considering I have a three-hour round trip to get to see Gail, I would have given up long ago if she had not been such a good teacher, but also because I have felt in tune with her and that is very comforting to me.
Terry Bailey, Scriptwriter
Before discovering Gail Barlow and the Alexander Technique, I was prone to migraine headaches. I had been prescribed medication, but one day I went to my doctor hoping for a better solution. I said, "I get these migraines..." and she replied, "Don't tell me about it, I get them all the time!" I wish she had known better.
Fortunately, some friends of mine did know better - they were clients of Gail's - and they recommended her in such glowing terms that I booked my first appointment. That was three years ago, and I can count on one hand the number of migraines I've had since (actually, I can count them on a couple of fingers).
Gail is a wonderful teacher, who phrases everything she teaches in a way that's easy to understand and visualise. She is also a master at "table work" - I always felt so much better after a session with her. I recommend both Gail and the Alexander Technique highly.
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Lyn, Artist and Furnishings Designer
After a good year of suffering vertigo and exhaustion, for which the NHS could do nothing, my cranial osteopath recommended Gail to me, as he thought a lot of my problems were because of bad posture. I had been aware of that to a degree but didn't know how to change it.
The vertigo had got so bad that I had to keep cancelling appointments with my clients at their houses because I was afraid it would affect my driving. I therefore got very depressed and nobody until the osteopath seemed to offer any solution.
A combination of improving my diet, working less and learning through Gail how my skeleton and muscles need to rest and work has vastly improved my health and sense of well-being. My vertigo has completely disappeared and I have more energy now. I feel much more in control of my own situation and it has also been a fascinating experience.
I feel very strongly that if we all knew the Technique, we wouldn't have half the troubles we experience with backache, depression etc. I found that in improving my posture, I also felt more open, expansive and confident.
Gail is open, informative, interested, patient, relaxed and has a good sense of humour. Her hands are warm, gentle and positive. They transmit direction and help me to find my own balance. I get a feeling of expansion and openness from her hands and so I learn how I need to feel.
Her approach is to help you understand what's happening with your body through her hands, by demonstration and with diagrams and models, but then to facilitate your continuing with the body self-analysis, so that every day is a lesson. At 62, I feel I'm starting my life again!
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Wear and Tear
Marion E, Nursery Teacher
Alexander Technique has given me an increased awareness of my body. I have improved the use of my body and so reduced the wear and tear on it.
Gail is enabling, supportive, sensitive and humorous. There is a lightness about the way she teaches.
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Gail Barlow is the Director of Dolphin Alexander Courses, which she set up in 1990 after completing the three-year full-time Alexander Technique Teacher Training Course and qualifying as a Teacher of the F M Alexander Technique.
Gail trained as an Alexander Teacher in the eighties and has now worked with over 2,000 people in the UK and Europe. She is now a very experienced teacher and is able to 'tune in' and work with each person in a method and at a pace uniquely suited to their individual needs.
She is a Member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT), which was founded in 1958 and is the oldest and largest professional body of Alexander Technique teachers in the world.