Number of Lessons, Duration, Cost.
- The lesson is usually about 40 minutes long.
- A single lesson is $50. A set of five lessons is $240.
- Even a single lesson might provide insights into your coordination and get some long held questions answered.
- Ten lessons will give a foundation course in how to work on your own coordination and improve with time.
- It is a good idea to take a lesson or two to see if the lessons are what you need or are to your liking.
There is no fixed limit on the number of lessons you can take. The process is gradual — similar to learning a foreign language or learning to play the piano.
One can take one step (lesson) or ten or more and benefit from every lesson.
Some people like to take a set of lessons. Then they may take some time and work on their own applying the acquired experience and knowledge in their everyday activities. As people progress they might come up with new interesting insights, and questions. It means a “new level” of assimilation of the material. These questions may be answered in a refresher course or a lesson, or with exploration on their own. Others people enjoy a steady pace and like to take weekly lesson and continue to grow this way.
Having said that, even one lesson will give the student many clues and directions on what is helpful and what is damaging in terms of activities and habitual movement. This may include answers to the important questions the students have been carrying around for awhile about the way you move, rest and exercise.
Many people come to Alexander Technique (“AT”) because of stubborn back or neck pain, and stay with the Technique because it allows them to experience movement in a more effortless, enjoyable way. It becomes a life’s simple pleasure that has great value. And last, but not least, we don’t have to change into a pair of track pants to begin to enjoy it. AT is what we learn to appreciate though application in all of our activities.
Description and structure of a lesson.
Why do people take AT lessons?
If i were asked to explain in just few words, I would say that these lessons teach us how to be effective in everyday functioning. It brings us step by step closer to our personal fulfillment , say, success, beauty, and higher levels of performance.
The genius Einstein precisely pointed to the very core of human delusion which keeps us away from changing and advancing. His definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Thus, Alexander Technique system gives us the tools to overcome those stale illusions that make us compulsively cling to the same repetitive actions. Our old patterns of acting and thinking often work against us, becoming a way of our personal imprisonment, difficult to get out of.
The question arises, “Why this habitual behaviour so difficult to overcome and get out of?” Why, in fact? Too often we can’t feel, see, or recognize these patterns. They so gradually and strongly have developed into us. They have become imprinted on our natures. They became a part of our personalities so that they are, indeed, below the radar of our perception. It is like getting used to polluted air. When we have breathed it for some time we may adapt until we lose too much of our sensitivity to its poor quality to know the difference.
There is a well-known Russian saying about how our habits become second nature. We all have them, yet they are neither useful not helpful for us. This is the role of the AT teacher — to bring our unconscious habits into our awareness. With the help of the skilled touch and verbal guidance and through learning the Alexander principles, these habits of held tension and compression become “visible.”
The AT lesson is a collaboration between the student and the teacher. The teacher will encourage the student to look deeper into their individual patterns of tension whether in rest or in movement, as the changes need to come from within the student. It is highly important to keep in mind that working with lifelong tensions is a step-by-step process, and not an overnight event.
In the area of bodily tensions we can’t force a change, but rather, we learn to allow it to unfold in the process. Application is a key word here. It means the more we apply the skills outside of the lesson, in our everyday functioning, the more rewarding this work gets.
One more specific characteristic of an AT lesson is finding ease of movement and resilience, and it happens in a peculiar way. It is not through repetition of an exercise or through enormous effort that we advance in our performance. It is rather through refinement of movement that we improve.
This is a unique process of subtraction of unnecessary tension — not just the application of more effort. Applying more effort is the most habitual way of problem solving. It is not the best option if the effort is applied in a wrong direction (it is a mere “hitting the head against the wall”). Knowing that we are moving in the right direction is the first and most important step on this journey.
F.M. Alexander left us with a few prominent insights into human nature that we can use to our advantage. One of his observations is about a very human desire to reach a goal fast. Here is F.M.’s quote in full, because i would like my students to enjoy it.
“Often we are tempted to introduce a change at the high level of our performance. The outcome of this intention maybe more tension, more of the same result (that we are so desperately trying to change). That is because the focus shifts to the goal and we are missing important, necessary pieces of discovery.”
F.M. is absolutely right about this. Our “wanting the result at any cost” interferes with the process of finding the right solution and causes us to miss the goal, whether it is getting rid of pain, improving performance, or finding love or success.
In a similar way an AT teacher begins with simple activities that make up a day: sitting, standing, walking, bending, and resting. Simple activities help us to recognize how we build our own patterns of tension. In fact, we take the same patterns into simple moves as we take into more complex movements, be it getting out of the chair or lifting heavy weights.
As students learn some coordination skills, the range of activities grow to include those that students might request: working at a computer station or performance in yoga or sports. I ask my students not to be afraid of some homework. These are very simple routines that can be introduced at any part of the day. They are helpful routines that leave students refreshed.
AT routines are not tedious. In fact, many people come because of stubborn back or neck pain, and stay with the technique because they experience the joy of effortless movement. AT is what we learn to appreciate through application in every, and in any of our activities.
Table work is normally an indispensable part of every lesson. Students may practice later what they have learned on the table at home, lying down on the floor. Yes, when we are on the floor in a supported way we don’t have to balance in gravity. Again, not being challenged by a particular task, we can notice our compression patterns and learn to release them. Beginners as well as experienced students and teachers make this an integral part of their daily routine. Not only does this help us to rest, recuperate, and to heal, but it also helps us to continuously learn how we are building our own tensions in order to let those tensions go.
AT teachers are not immune from the tension as well. They have to continuously work on themselves in order to assist the clients with meaningful and effective directions. Alexander Teachers learn well during the three-year program that tension free hands depend very much on the “whole body” use and support. Teachers work on improving their own coordination skills every day to have a “touch” that can communicate the release of unnecessary tension in a student.