Looking for something to read on the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique, A Skill for Life, by Pedro de Alcantara is one of the best introductory books on the technique. It’s a bit shorter and deeper than most starter books. Students have found used copies on eBay.

If you’ve already covered the basics, here are two books that might be enlightening.

2. An Examined Life is a long interview with F.M. Alexander’s niece Marjorie Barlow, a well known teacher in her own right. This is a very thoughtful exploration of the principals of the work, the history of the technique, and what it was like to grow up in the UK in the last century.

3. Thinking Aloud, by Walter Carrington is a serious of short talks for his Alexander Technique teacher trainees, but it’s appropriate for all readers. It’s very pithy, easy to read, and full of wisdom.

The latter two books are available from Mornum Time Press, a small publisher of Alexander Technique themed book. You can also find these books on the usual online mega providers.

Looking for something outside the Alexander Technique bubble that also outlines a coherent pathway for ease and alignment? Ideokinesis, featuring the work of Andre Bernard will stimulate your visual imagination and change your relationship to uprightness.

in transit

A bizarre evening. Transferring at MacArthur back to SF a tall red headed woman and I looked a few beats too long at each other. Something about her caught my eye. She looked like someone I knew but had since misplaced all identifying details.

Later, I went to sit at SF Insight, something I rarely do. As I sat, the quiet put me in touch with my anger. I tend to be more depressive than angry, but here I was, along with the entire country, brimming with rage. I was irritated at the people near me clearing their throats, angry at the people who had brought their support dogs, disgusted by the terrible smell of socks – until I realized that was coming from my own guilty feet. Perfect metaphor, no? I sat in my anger, with no attempt to change it, and a commitment to feel. This is how it is. This is how it is. 

At break, I looked over and there was MacArthur Bart woman ahead of me in the tea line. “I think I saw you on Bart today,” I said.

“It’s you?” she said. “You were on my train.”.

“I almost said something because I thought I knew you,” we both said. 


“And here we are.”

And here we are.

What is the Alexander Technique?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

When students used to say to my teacher Frank Ottiwell, “I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders.” He would say, “Well, why don’t you put it down?”

With the Alexander Technique, we look at posture as a reflection of habits and behaviors, not as an inherent feature of genetics or identity.

Over time, Alexander Technique students learn to stop the habits that pull them off balance and out of alignment. The result is an easy feeling in the body and effortless uprightness.

Join me for a new perspective on self, body and movement. Call 415-342-6255 to learn more!

When you feel like a turtle…

Turtles pull their heads in to their bodies when they are scared. Do you do the same thing? Notice the triggers, and then invite a sense of ease in your neck, so your head can can lengthen away from your body.

If you are finding this hard, look around you and make sure that you are safe. Are you near loud rumbling low pitched noises? Try and get somewhere quiet, or even turn on some melodic vocal music – or sing. If you can have a friendly face-to-face conversation that might be the best thing, but if there’s no one around, take a minute to look at pictures of baby animals. All of this will help cue your nervous system towards a sense of safety. Feeling safe facilitates a release in the neck and throat muscles, allowing the head to easily extend away from the body.

With the Alexander Technique, you learn to work with your mind to coax your body into ease. You also learn to recognize and cope with the environmental triggers that cause tension.

#polyvagaltheory #alexandertechnique

photo credit: Photo by Cedric Fox on Unsplash

Elyse Shafarman