Benefits of the Alexander Technique...some personal testimonials
Alexander Technique for the Stages (and Sizes) of Life
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Beverley, Celtic Artist
I was amazed that carrying both my babies through pregnancy was enjoyable and comfortable all the way through. I saw other pregnant mums having backache, etc but I knew how to look after myself - sitting, walking, bending, being grounded etc. I had all that excess weight on my problem knee and yet I had no trouble at all with it as long as I kept using my Alexander Technique.
The births were easy, even though my second was a large baby for my size (I'm only 4' 10" and slightly built and Bryony weighed in at 8 pounds 5 ounces!). I actually wrote in my birth plan that I was using Alexander Technique and I didn't want any interference during labour - and I didn't need it! I'm so glad I went to Gail for Alexander Technique and have been able to balance my body for my sake and my babies'.
Gail tunes into you as a person and is so encouraging, enthusiastic and clear. I was so grateful to her for all her work and her unstinting support in teaching me the Alexander Technique, which transformed my life, that I named my first baby after her.
Jane A, Musician
I found in pregnancy Alexander Technique was absolutely wonderful. I remember looking at other pregnant women lumbering around as if it was such an effort. Even when I was heavily pregnant I felt light and on top of the world!
It was also wonderful for the birth because it taught me to stay in the moment and not to be worrying about what was going to happen. The midwife commented on how well I was coping with the contractions and that was definitely down to my Alexander Technique.
Top of page
Ruth, Aged 10
I used to hurt my knees a lot and now I don't because I've learned how to stand and move differently. I think about how I do things and how I balance. It feels easier and I want to jump off the ground because I feel FREE!.Ruth's Mum, Jenny:
I thought Alexander Technique might be too subtle for Ruth to understand but she has been very motivated to address her problem and change her habits and Gail has been very keen to pitch it at an appropriate level for Ruth and always checks that Ruth fully understands.
Gail uses the skeleton and other models as teaching aids and this helps Ruth and me to visualise what's happening in the body. As a Mum, before we started this, I felt really very anxious because I could see she had bad postural habits which were contributing to her knee problems, but I felt helpless to do anything about it. It was the osteopath who treated her knee injuries who suggested that Alexander Technique might prevent more injuries.
Ruth's posture has improved considerably and she hasn't hurt her knee for quite a while. I believe that addressing the problem now is an invaluable investment for Ruth's health for the rest of her life.
Lois, Aged 9
Lois' Mum, Elizabeth:
Lois had broken her leg in two places and had to have surgery. After her operation, she'd had lots of physio but she was still walking lopsided, overcompensating all the time, and this was affecting everything; how she stood, sat, walked, ran, skipped, etc. Everything was lopsided so much that the muscles were knotted at the hip and her whole structure was growing wrong.
My homoeopath recommended I take Lois to see Gail. After one session she was standing and walking straight for the next six months until Gail came back to Darlington. After the second session, there was more spring in her step and in her body generally. Her movement was freer and her balance was 100% better after that second session and has remained better for another six months.
Now she's just had her third session and she's refining her movement at the knee plus her sitting is natural now and she is more relaxed generally in her movement. I would say 90% of us have taut muscles when I look around (not that I noticed before). Seeing Lois standing up and sitting down over and over today in her session, she just looks so natural, not laboured like everybody normally looks.
I'm now really happy for her to continue to go to Gail for maintenance for her future. It's an investment.
Gail is professional but friendly at the same time. She knows how to handle children and puts Lois at her ease. Some appointments are an ordeal for Lois and she's normally very timid and wary and doesn't say a word. She likes to go to Gail, though; she trusts her, relates to her easily and is quite happy. At home she comes out with how much better she feels - she walks differently, her head is straight, her back is straight, her shoulders are down and she is totally relaxed.
Carlin, Aged 12Carlin's Mum:
It's incredible how much more confident Alexander Technique has made him. He was really withdrawn and shrunk into himself and I was so worried about him.
And then he grew two inches before my eyes - it was like a flower opening, that first session with Gail. He's kept it up since and friends have commented how different he is - he now radiates an inner confidence.
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.
Top of page
Rheinallt, Aged 15
I've done the Beginners course and the biggest benefit definitely is my walking. I used to push my head forward, roll from side to side like a pendulum and hold my body very stiffly. Now I've learned to walk confidently, freely and upright.
Now I sit upright as well and don't arch my back, I can drop my centre of gravity effortlessly and I've learned to use my body correctly to do physical work on my parents' farm. I feel the course has been of great benefit and will change my habits for the rest of my life.
Gail makes it more interesting and easier to learn by giving me images to help me to know what to do. She is a jolly person, very encouraging and she boosts my confidence all the time.
Nicola, Aged 14
Because my back was badly twisted, the muscles on one side stuck out a lot and, particularly in the summer when it was more obvious, I felt very self-conscious.
Now since Alexander Technique I can stand, sit and walk upright comfortably and I don't keep changing position all the time like I used to. My muscles don't stick out any more and when people notice and tell you you stand up straight and have good posture, it makes you feel confident.
I find lessons easy and I enjoy them as well. When I go home I want to practise and it just feels like another part of my day rather than feeling like it's a "job" I have to do.
Gail is a good teacher who helps me with the bits I don't understand.
Top of page
Roger, Research Scientist
I am 6' 6" tall and The Alexander Technique has been a great help to me in adjusting my posture, relieving my back stiffness and encouraging me to stand up straighter and move more easily than for many years.
I also now know how to optimise things in my controllable world to fit my height and shape, e.g. my office, my car, my dining table, etc.
The modern mass-produced world is not designed for tall people and does not cater for us and so it is necessary to make the adjustments ourselves.
Gail made it easy to understand the basics for the posture changes I needed to make and fun to do the work to establish them. Her skills and enthusiasm made our sessions very enjoyable.
I am over 6' tall with the usual neck problems of a tall person and I have certainly found the Alexander Technique beneficial. I'm walking better and sitting better - whenever I slump, I realise what I'm doing and come out of it instantly, where before I didn't notice. I am also lying down at lunchtime to decompress the spine.
Alexander Technique has made me a lot more aware of what I was doing badly and how to change it. If I feel I am slipping back, I can now do something about it and avoid future problems.
Sessions with Gail are very interactive. She knows what she is talking about and exudes confidence in the Technique and in the process of change. That makes the student feel confident that things are going to work and indeed are working. She is also extremely patient.
Top of page
Fourteen years ago I had a lot of muscular aches and pains in my shoulders and in my back and my head was not properly balanced. I had flat feet, which caused a strain on my whole body through lack of balance. I had regular migraines and gardening caused me a lot of pain and discomfort. I was only in my mid-fifties and I did not want to look forward to a future of steadily getting even worse.
I started Alexander Technique with Gail in 1992 and since completing my course, Alexander Technique flows through the whole of my life. Now in my sixties I have a lot more physical comfort than when I started and I was fourteen years younger! That means a tremendous improvement in the quality of my life and the comfort I feel in just moving around doing everyday tasks.
There has been a big improvement in my mobility compared with before and I am confident in my general ability to look after my body. I don't have the original problems and if I do get a twinge, I know I have overdone the gardening, etc and I can deal with the problem relatively quickly myself.
Gail is a brilliant teacher and very empowering. I can wholeheartedly say that. She coaxed the right response from me rather than drilling it into me. Her training and her sensitivity allow her to feel where tensions lie and gently coax realignment throughout the whole body. The result leads to a greater sense of harmony between the body and the mind and helps to assist the body to regain the original ease and coordination we all experienced as very young children. It's wonderful!
Irene, Retired Teacher
I had a lot of stiffness and used to get pains in my right hip and groin. I was only 64, but when I used to bend down, I wasn't able to get up again. Not a pleasant outlook for the future.
All that's gone and now I have no pain! Since Alexander Technique, I feel I move more freely and I can bend down easily. I can look to the future with confidence.
Gail has a very personal and individual approach. She is very encouraging and put me at my ease from the beginning. I look forward to coming, as the sessions are relaxed and enjoyable.
Her hands are lovely - very gentle but firm where needed. It makes me feel relaxed when she puts her guiding hands on me and it also helps me to be aware of where the problems are. She is very sensitive to the postural problems and knows what I don't know about my own body!
The main reason I started Alexander Technique was preventative. I think it is important to keep supple and fit as I go into older age and fitness involves keeping more comfortable. I garden a lot and cannot afford to have a bad back plus I am an artist, which involves sitting for hours. I had got to the stage of having general feelings of heaviness, stiffness and creaking joints.
You only know that you're doing things correctly when it feels like it did when Gail guided you to that place initially with her hands and it's that spot you are looking for all the time. Her hands are confident and warm and one trusts what she is doing. It feels right and in tune with where the body wants to be. It is in harmony with the body.
On the table and when I am standing and sitting and Gail particularly works on my head and neck, I can feel my neck subtly getting longer. Also, I suddenly have a middle, in that that too has elongated. My body acquires a wonderful feeling of lightness and energy and effortless mobility. Having felt it, I know what I am looking for myself and, with Gail's guidance and with an increased understanding and awareness of how my body naturally works, I find I can now achieve that feeling of lightness, energy and easy mobility by myself.
This difference of lightness, energy and easy mobility in my everyday life makes me feel younger physically and mentally and more relaxed emotionally. I didn't expect to have the added benefit of all the mental relaxation and sense of well-being I have experienced. It hasn't been a sudden transformation. It takes time but it is a very worthwhile commitment because once you've felt the difference, you don't want to go back to the ageing way things were before!
Top of page
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.