FAQ - Frequently asked questions
1.) What is special about the F.M. Alexander Technique?
HAVING AN ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE LESSON IS HAVING A SPECIAL AND UNIQUE EXPERIENCE – YOU GET TALLER, YOU BREATHE EASIER, YOU MOVE LIGHTER.
The Alexander Technique is a long-term preventive self-help process that you learn to apply to everything you do in life. You might come for lessons in the Technique if you have health issues such as:
- PAIN anywhere in the body, tensions of all kinds
- POSTURAL slumping, twists or imbalances, troubles with movement and coordination, or breathing
- You might wish to improve PERFORMANCE in playing a musical instrument or in running or sport of any kind.
- You may wish to PREVENT damage or distortion occurring – children are often sent to get them to overcome poor sitting habits, or poor breathing habits or movement problems.
The way we work with you is very gentle. We are not giving vigorous exercises or any force in our work but we encourage the natural body processes to work without restriction.
We are experts in the way each person uses themselves to do whatever they do in life. We encourage you to take an informed interest in these processes so we regard you as a pupil learning how to help yourself rather than a patient having a treatment.
In this way, because of the self-help factor, the Alexander Technique is more than a therapy. You learn how you yourself can make changes to improve your own health and functioning.
As you can apply it at any moment, the Alexander Technique is effective continuously rather than intermittently.
2.) What symptoms can be alleviated by employing the F.M. Alexander Technique?
SOME CONDITIONS WHERE the Alexander Technique HAS BEEN KNOWN TO BE HELPFUL:
Postural problems of all kinds – rounded shoulders – slumping – twists
Back problems of all kinds including sciatica / ”slipped disc(s)” / curvatures / pain
- Shoulder and arm problems of all kinds including RSI / strains / ”tennis elbow” etc.
- Neck and jaw problems of all kinds including stiff neck / spasmodic torticollis /whiplash injuries of all kinds / weak neck / wry neck / jaw tension / bruxism etc
Headaches – tension headaches & migraines
Parkinsonism / MS / Muscular Dystrophy / Paraplegia & Quadriplegia
Strokes of all kinds
Attention deficiency / loss of energy
Breathing problems of all kinds plus work with professional voice users
Arthritis of all kinds
Hip replacement problems – hip joint troubles / sacroiliac joint troubles
Pregnancy & childbirth – body posture – breathing issues – backpain issues – techniques to ease giving birth
Leg & knee problems / ankle troubles / foot troubles
Inadequate or inappropriate movement difficulties
Post-operative difficulties of all kinds
3.) How many lessons will I need?
LIKE LEARNING A LANGUAGE OR A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT IT WILL DEPEND UPON YOUR CONDITIONS AND ON YOUR INTEREST.
A BASIC COURSE OF LESSONS:
Alexander teachers see people with a very wide range of conditions and needs. Some people have no pain and wish to improve their posture because they know they sit badly, stand badly and breathe badly and so on. Usually these people can be helped quite quickly and a course of lessons over several weeks will usually give them the basis for continuing improvement - however, it will also be very dependent upon their conditions. If you are very collapsed or twisted it may take some time before your body learns how to undo habits that underlie these attitudes. We usually recommend a course of twenty to thirty 40-45 minute lessons over a period of several months. It is usually preferable to take lessons more frequently in the early stages and spread out the lessons later on.
Some people want to improve the performance of what they do e.g. running, playing golf or playing a musical instrument. In this way the person learns how to avoid movement habits that could lead to injury or worsening performance.
The Alexander Technique is in all the major music colleges in the UK and many musicians continue taking lessons after they finish college, some of them even going on to train to become teachers of the Technique. Runners, golfers or swimmers find their style improve and their efficiency, quality of action and endurance also improve. In these cases the number of lessons will depend entirely upon the interest of the person taking the lessons.
Some people have had operations and are in a very sensitive state. The Technique is never imposing any forceful changes but rather is giving the opportunity for the person’s own nervous system to allow changes to happen when the nervous system feels ready for them. We are not re-training muscles but rather training the messages that go to the muscles so how long this takes will vary from one person to the next depending on their conditions.
Some people may have stroke, muscular dystrophy, arthritis– either osteo- or rheumatoid, they may have MS or Parkinsonism, they may be paraplegic or quadriplegic, they may have some brain damage, they may have some accident damage. These are the “extreme” cases where Alexander Technique may help (see Testimonials). We do not claim to cure people of their disablement but we certainly can improve greatly their best use of whatever faculties they do possess. There will be no time limit for lessons in such cases and continuing lessons will depend upon how the person perceives they are being helped.
4.) Can I get lessons paid by the health insurance?
COMPLIMENTARY HEALTH INSURANCE WILL PAY FOR LESSONS IN THE F.M.ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE IN SWITZERLAND BUT IT WILL DEPEND UPON YOUR INSURERS AS TO HOW MUCH THEY WILL PAY.
If you have complimentary health insurance cover then it is almost certain that your insurance company will pay for some lessons. However, insurance companies vary as to how they will support lessons. SBAT, the Swiss Alexander Technique National Society has negotiated a system with any insurer belonging to the EMR group.
To establish what kind of support for lessons your insurance company offers you will need to contact them and ask. Some give support for lessons without any reference from a doctor up to a certain amount of money. Others give support only with a doctor recommendation. In all cases the amount of support is limited in some way as insurance companies are not able to give support for an indefinite time, or for an indefinite amount of money. The insurance company CSS is especially supportive and recommended.
We have a chart of the variations of support on offer from those insurance companies belonging to the EMR group so please ask us when you wish to take lessons.
In the long term, however, it is a good plan to consider lessons more like learning a language or learning to play a musical instrument rather than as having treatment. We do not treat problems – we teach you how not to continue to practice habits of reaction and movement that cause you difficulties. How many lessons it takes to learn the Alexander Technique depends on your conditions and your enthusiasm and interest.
5.) Can I combine the Alexander Technique with other methods?
THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE IS A GOOD UNDERPINNING AND SUPPORT TO ANY METHOD
Since the Alexander Technique is dealing with a re-training of the messages that go to your muscles via the nervous system it is essentially a basic and fundamental process. This means we set up a new balanced basis for any other activity.
Alexander Technique has proved to be very helpful in combination with other approaches in dealing with all kinds of problems both mild and severe. We often get referrals from doctors, physiotherapists, ergo-therapists, osteopaths and other medical advisers.
It is a good plan to first establish your basic coordination then you can apply it to anything. You can apply Alexander Technique to any other method whatsoever and in doing so you get the most benefit out of whatever other method you are using. The Alexander teacher is an expert in seeing that the way you use yourself in applying yourself to your chosen method is enhancing your experience and ability to the maximum.
6.) Can I learn Alexander Technique in a group?
IINDIVIDUAL LESSONS ARE THE BEST WAY YOU CAN LEARN THE MOST TO HELP YOURSELF IN USING THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
When you are beginning to find out about the Alexander Technique it is best to first have some private individual lessons. In this way the teacher can guide you in relation to your unique habit patterns and in relation to your unique life circumstances. Group lessons can be helpful as a general introduction but they cannot replace the detailed help and guidance given in individual lessons. This is not to say that group lessons are to be absolutely avoided but you will gain much more from them once you have a clearer idea and experience of your individual conditions.
7.) Can I still take Alexander lessons if I am pregnant?
PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH CAN BE A JOYFUL AND PAINFREE EXPERIENCE BY EMPLOYING THE
F.M. ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
The Alexander Technique is well known to help women through pregnancy and childbearing. There are at least two books devoted to exactly this aspect of the application of the Alexander Technique.
During pregnancy the woman’s body changes shape – dramatically in some cases – and in doing so there are often disturbances relating to poor postural habits. The back can develop aches and strains, the breathing can be laboured and difficult, movement can be awkward and troublesome. All these matters are very thoroughly helped by having a course of Alexander lessons whilst pregnant. Not only is your posture improved to support the growing foetus but you have a greater self-control over your breathing and movement.
The application of the Technique comes really into its own during childbearing. Here the most enormous patience and skill is required to manage all the demands of the process. Breathing needs to be carefully observed and consciously employed and here the Alexander way of understanding the breathing mechanism is of immense value.
To have Alexander lessons as a preparation for childbirth is certainly a good idea.
8.) How long is a lesson?
ALEXANDER LESSONS VARY IN LENGTH DEPENDING UPON YOUR CONDITIONS AND NEEDS BUT THE USUAL LESSON TIME IS AROUND 30-40 MINUTES
There are occasions where it is important to have either shorter or longer time when having lessons. These circumstances will need to be discussed individually.
9.) How much does it cost?
THE COST OF THE LESSON WILL TO SOME EXTENT DEPEND UPON HOW YOU PAY
The cost of a 45 minute lesson with Robin Simmons (in Zürich) is 120 Swiss Francs, and in Brig 100 SFr.. In Zürich, if you pay for 5 lessons in advance the cost is 550 SFr. If you pay for 10 lessons in advance the cost is 1000 SFr. In Brig, if you pay for 5 lessons in advance the cost is 480 SFr. If you pay for 10 lessons in advance the cost is 900 SFr.
(1) We may choose to give a little more time for the lesson without any increase in payment.
(2) If you are a student or young person we may agree to giving lessons at a lower rate.
(3) In special circumstances we may agree to a lesson or some lessons at a lower rate.
HEALTH INSURANCE PAYMENTS
Arrangements for payment of lessons by your Health Insurance will involve an individual agreement with you regarding payment as Health Insurance companies vary in their requirements.
10.) Can you visit me in my home or hotel to give me lessons?
WE ARE HAPPY TO VISIT ANYONE IN THEIR HOME OR HOTEL TO GIVE LESSONS
If someone is so incapacitated that they cannot visit our teaching studio then we are happy to travel to give the lessons.
Each arrangement is unique so needs to be established personally with each pupil.
11.) Can this Technique help people with obesity?
People who are obese can benefit from taking lessons in the F.M. Alexander Technique.
The Alexander Technique is a method that helps people better manage their movement, coordination and breathing. With people who are obese, damage to joints - e.g. hips, knees and ankle joints - can become a major problem. Learning how to change habit patterns of movement so that the body is used continuously in the most optimal manner can help relieve pressure on these joints. By learning better balance and coordination obese people can learn to use less effort in all their movements. In addition, the Technique teaches people how to develop correct breathing and this can also be an important issue for obese people.
The Technique to some extent involves the employment of conscious thought to make important changes in the way the body is used. In this way it is possible to learn and apply the Alexander Technique even when movement is restricted. By employing Alexander's conscious directions the nervous system is "re-programmed" to avoid harmful movement habits of the whole body. In this way obese people can exercise their conscious thinking and learn how to take more personal control and responsibility for the improvement of their health and well-being.