Why would you learn the Alexander Technique?

To feel great in your own skin – you don’t have to be in pain to want to learn AT. Improving your relationship with your body brings about other positive changes. If you can love your body, you’re a lot less likely to want to fill it with poisons or ignore its little messages to you (those grumbles, aches, and pains). We take care of the things we love. Starting to improve your body awareness is the start of the journey to love yourself.

Get the internal space back in your body – if you’re squeezing your body with muscular tension and/or habitually falling into a collapsed posture, you’ve lost your internal space. Trying to hold yourself up against years of habitual collapse is like holding back the tide, but learning to change the postural habits of a lifetime is the start of getting back that internal support and space. You don’t hold yourself up, your body supports you. Doesn’t it?

Improves all movement based activities ……….. Improves all non-movement based activities – it doesn’t matter if you’re lying on the sofa, standing in a queue, or running in a marathon. The “way” you’re using your body is the same if it’s born out of unconscious habits. So, learning to become aware of how you use your body, then learning to become more skilful at that, will improve EVERYTHING that you do.

Be in charge of your own body – as my wise little nana got older she said “It’s wonderful Gemma! When my hip is starting to get stiff and tighten up, I can do something about it”. In those last 10 years of her life (from when she started her AT lessons at 84), whilst so much of life was becoming a struggle and more and more out of her control, SHE was still in control of her “use” and of her own body. What a gift!

Be in charge of your own pain relief – ok, so this isn’t on tap opiates, it’s not like that. And if we’re being honest here, pain is an area where science is still very much working on understanding it, especially chronic pain. What we’ve got available to us at the moment is ways to manage the pain and the skills within the Alexander Technique are invaluable for this.

Why wouldn’t you learn the Alexander Technique?

You think it’s someone else’s job to fix you – whilst many people can help you find wellness again, the ultimate responsibility for your body lies with you. When you learn the AT you learn to look after yourself in a totally unique way, it’s a skill of self-mastery, a skill for life. However, if you’re the person who wants to change nothing about your life and would rather have a fairy godmother with a magic wand to take away your problems, then this isn’t for you.

You like living in a body that feels 20yrs older than it is – I’m going to make a really bold statement now “the Alexander Technique keeps your body feeling young”. There’s a big and shocking illusion that our world is selling to you. It’s that the older you get the more decrepit you become. Whilst in some areas you might need a bit more assistance, glasses perhaps or maybe a hearing aid, when it comes to your body feeling good, upright and mobile all you need is a little awareness, time and skill to continue improving as you get older.

It takes up too much of your precious time – yes, it’s an investment in yourself, but we know investments take time to mature. Honestly! What else are you doing that’s more important than your own self-care? Step away from the remote control and practice some Constructive Rest.

You think that getting older is why you can’t stand up straight anymore – the reason your posture has changed over the years isn’t “old age”, it’s because your inappropriate muscular tension has gotten in the way of your marvellous postural mechanism – the support system within you that keeps you upright. You can get this back again, with patience and learning.

You don’t want to be the one flexible enough to paint the ceiling (FYI totally valid reason) – however, that probably means you’re not flexible enough to get on the floor to play with your grandchildren or get down and dirty in the garden (translate that however you like!) Freedom in movement is a delight; the lightness we feel when our body supports itself and the feeling of being safely balanced as we navigate uneven ground – it’s all there for the taking, with just a little investment in yourself.

Cat Cow….

Cat/cow pose can be a lovely movement for the body. Some things to watch out for: – Keep it soft – any feeling of “stretching” wants to be a lengthening expansive feeling i.e. a natural and body-lead movement. Imagine you’re the cat stretching, it’s a pandiculation. Watch your head – it’s easy to scrunch up the back of the neck.

Often, I don’t go with the looking up part, but keep letting the neck lengthen in its natural location in relation to the rest of the spine. As the mid back moves lower than the hips and shoulders, instead of looking up, leave your neck alone, unlock your jaw and soften your tongue – you might notice more freedom in the spine. Free pelvis – Experiment with letting the front of the pelvis go, (think “soften”), whilst thinking the back to widen. This is especially useful in the forward curve part of the move, where your mid back rises. If you’re next to a mirror, take a side glance to see if you really are allowing the lower and mid back to gently curve. We can sometimes end up increasing a hunch in the upper back – not so useful. I love the thinking direction of “soft belly and wide back”. You’re aiming for a long languid curve of the spine, in both the up and down position. Get next to a mirror and see if you’re achieving that. Often, we’re just allowing one section of the back to move. e.g. rounding the upper back or collapsing the lower back, this isn’t what we want.  There’s a point at which you’re in the table top pose, notice this. Are you still breathing or have you held your breath? Above all, it should be a slow movement that feels good.

Waking up your internal support is part of the relearning that you experience with the Alexander Technique.


The emerging of spring brings with it a faster pace of energy. As nature bursts open all around us, we are urged forward into this awakening season.

Moving towards the spring equinox, the midway point between winter and summer, now is the time for putting into action the plans brought forward from the depths of winter. Bringing our mind body awareness into that action can make a real difference to our wellbeing.

If you’re out in the garden digging hard or wrestling with weeds, try bringing some awareness back to your body; don’t let the “fight” be with yourself. As you bend to dig that hole, are you rounding your back? Instead, could you allow your knees to bend? Try planting your feet in a wider stance; this gives you a secure base to move from. Becoming more conscious of how your body moves is a great way to start a mindful practice and if you can notice your breathing in activity too, then you’re really getting somewhere.

Mindfulness is a journey, that starts with awareness of yourself, your environment and then of others. A big part of this journey is self compassion, so if you do over do it, forgive yourself, you’re learning something new and that takes time.


We’re midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Winter’s still all around us and so are those precious first signs of spring. Swelling buds and snowdrops remind us that there’s a powerful life force hiding away, ready to emerge again in the coming weeks. Whilst nature is still resting, emanating its peaceful quiet energy, we can take advantage of this and discover peacefulness within ourselves. This is not a time for being overly active, but steady and thoughtful. If you’ve got some ideas that need manifesting, get them down on paper. If you’re a visual person or enjoy delving into your creative side, now is the time to get out the coloured pens and glue, to sit quietly by the fire and make a vision board.

Bringing your ideas into the material world.

 I’m not going to give you masses of instructions on this, because I don’t believe it’s something that anyone can get wrong. The general idea is to connect with the deeper part of yourself, whether it’s a quiet walk in nature, meditation or spending sometime on your yoga mat; whatever suits your being.

The goddess of this season is Brigid, light a fire in her name and call upon her for inspiration (a candle works well). To clear the way, ask Brigid’s fire to help you release the mist (aka emotional baggage) that covers your true self.  Then bring forward your intentions and ideas, writing freely, drawing or creating a simple collage. Let the words and images represent your future plans. Don’t get stuck in the “perfection energy”, but let yourself be quite free. Be guided by your heart or the part of you that feels emotionally secure. When you’ve finished your process, walk away from it for a while. Notice how it feels to let it go; to send it on its way. You’re clearing the energetic path, making the action in the future easier and smoother. You can close the ritual, by thanking Brigid, yourself and any other energies that came to you. Breathe in the stillness for a moment or two, then blow out the candle.

Spring will be here soon enough and then you can put your ideas into action. In the longer, warmer day’s you’ll have more energy to do all that you plan. Your body will be ready, because like Mother Nature herself you took the time in winter to rest.


Outside my window the wild Cornish wind is doing its best to blow all the leaves from the multi-coloured trees, there seems to be letting go and resistance in equal proportion. The wind will eventually win, it always does.

I spend a lot of time, in my work with clients, asking them to “let go”. For the most part I’m talking about muscular tension, what lies beneath is always emotional. The body’s response to mental and emotional stress is physical tension. It can be stored anywhere; we’ve all got our favourite spots.

Autumn has the energy of letting go; it’s the end of the growing year. The life force starts to recede back in towards the earth and the staccato energy of summer has well and truly gone. As the leaves change their colours to yellow, orange and red, it’s a magnificent reminder that all things come to an end, that change is constant and can be beautiful.

What am I holding on to? What changes would benefit me? These are the questions I let meander around my mind as I walk my dogs in the woods. I use this time to let go of my shoulders, reminding them to rest on my supportive back. As I climb the hills I allow the muscles in my calves to lengthen, which gives a springy feeling in my step. I give myself time to reconnect with my body, safely letting go of excess muscular tension. Sometimes I let go so much that I stand still and cry, sometimes there’s words and images to match, sometimes not.

As I start the short walk from the woods back to my house, the wind is blowing the last remnants of old energy away. I can almost see it whirling away from me and there’s a lightness in my whole body. A mental clarity and willingness for life, that comes from giving up the resistance to letting go. Nature is far more powerful than me, any resistance is an illusion. Resistance is futile!


Anyone who’s experienced a foot massage will know how great it feels to have “free” feet, but did you realise that a free, flexible foot, filled with your conscious awareness, will help with your balance and encourage your posture to improve? 

So, relax your feet, uncurl your toes and gently rotate your foot to make you aware of your ankles. 

How does that feel? Mindfully moving our body can bring a new awareness to it and from that point of awareness we have a choice of how we use it. 

Now place both feet softly on the ground (this is even better without shoes). Notice the weight of your lower legs and imagine that weight ‘falling’ through your ankles and feet into the ground.  

Does the awareness of this weight help your feet to relax and become more open?  

For me, one of the joys of summer is walking barefoot on the lawn. Whilst being an altogether very pleasant feeling on the feet, it’s also very good for the rest of the body. I use it as a little meditation. Walking with the awareness of my body within its environment and connecting to the ground, whilst allowing myself to lengthen up to the sky.  

If you want to give mindful walking a try, let your feet slowly role through each step, let your back breath (ribs expanding and releasing with each breath) and let your eyes be aware of your peripheral vision, so that you’re not peering at anything – just seeing. It can be helpful to allow the calves to lengthen, imagining them lengthening into the heels and as you do so ask the base of your skull to release and the back of your neck to lengthen. It’s a lot to think about, but if you take it all in small sections, it can really transform your poise and balance.  

The ground is there to support you, but our overly tense body gets in the way of this support. Using a little mindful practice on a regular basis, gives us a chance to deepen our awareness of our connection to our environment physically and spiritually. We have a lesser known chakra called the earth star. It’s our connector to the earth, where we ‘plug in’ to an infinite source of love and information, which we can use to realise our authentic self and understand our soul’s purpose. Feeling closed off from this chakra can bring a feeling of instability (physically and emotionally), an inability to create the life that you want and a disconnection to your environment (including the people around you). If this sounds like you, then I recommend that you take a little more care of your feet! Treat them to a soak or a little massage. Stand on the dewy grass and let your energy be drawn down to the centre of the earth (gravity with help!), as you start to feel that connection and support from the ground, think up as if your unfurling up towards the sky. Breathe and connect with the space around you. Be with your Self, be present. 

We live in a hectic and crazy world; any number of things in our day can knock us off balance. Give yourself a chance to put the spring back into your step and the poise back into your balance. 


 Often people don’t realise that they have it, because they’re very tight in their body and expect it to make them very loose and lax, which of course when they were young they probably were. Over time, excessive tension can be created in the body in an attempt to hold them self together. Learning to” leave your-self” alone (not over tightening the bodies’ musculature) you’ll find that a springiness and appropriate tone can eventually return. However, it’s not just about the releasing, it’s the directed thinking (the organising principle) that is so useful within the Alexander Technique for those people who are hyper-mobile, because it gives the form its structure again. Mentally body mapping can also be very useful too. There’s always a psychological aspect, a need to safely let go; letting go into a framework gives this sense of safety. Widening and releasing into the space around you, safely knowing where the boundaries of your-self are. If you’re familiar with the Alexander Technique directed thinking, it can be very helpful to mentally connect yourself up – thinking hand to wrist, then to elbow; whole arm into shoulder, which connects into spine etc. Thinking inward instead of outward can be very helpful with the “unsafe” feelings that often go with letting go. You can apply this thinking to anywhere in the body; to connect your legs into your back or even connect your head into your back. I’m sure it sounds rather strange, but put another way, if the musculature of your body has lost its integration, due to excessive tension, the deeper muscles won’t be doing the job of keeping you connected and supported, so the more superficial muscles will be taking too much responsibility for holding you together. When it comes to figuring out if you’re getting things right, if your body is feeling relaxed, yet well supported whilst in rest and in movement, then you’re going in the right direction.

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A Grieving Body

There’s a certain shape, a certain posture that is familiar to most – it’s the shape of a grieving body. Curled forward, pulled down by the weight of the pain that the loss brings.

My wonderful uncle died at the end of June, a great loss to his friends, he left a feeling of emptiness in the hearts of his family. Of course, this is what death is. The person whom you have loved for your whole life, now gone, leaving behind a sliding scale of sadness to devastation. And the body responds. We cry, sobbing for the myriad of emotions that engulf us, filled with a weakness and a lack of desire for life. We become unable to stand tall, to open up the heart, to expose our fragile soft underbelly in our primal need to protect ourselves from more pain.

The first time I noticed this I was in my teens. Although I did not notice my body when my father died in the spring, when my friends’ fiancé died in the autumn I was immediately aware of her posture. From the moment the news came to her she was unable to stand to her full and natural height. Her shoulders rounded and her head stooped. She had unknowingly assumed the posture of the grieving widow. Over the healing months that followed there was an emerging, an unfurling of herself. Not just in her body, but also in her emotional and mental wellbeing. As she came to recover from the shock and pain of the loss of her fiancé, an entire transformation was apparent.

When I heard the news of my uncles’ death I was on holiday at our family villa; a place so full of happy childhood memories that I could barely move without crying. I noticed immediately my inability to keep any internal length, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and sob. I listened to my body and stayed in this pulled down posture, my shoulders hunched forward and my brow furrowed. I drank wine, to give myself a break from the pain; I knew this to be an inadequate solution……

Several days later, I awoke to find that I was alone (everyone else had gone on an early trip to the fish market), so I decided to use this quiet space to re-connect with my body. As I lay in the shade on my yoga matt, in this beautiful tranquil place so full of loving memories, my tears flowed. The more that I brought myself back into the present moment, into my body, the more I cried. I gently moved my body, extending a leg or an arm, a gentle twist, a releasing breath and with each moment that passed I could feel the muscles in my body release, a slow but steady release into length. Eventually the reconnection to myself felt good, it left me feeling more present, stronger and more able to be in my own skin. The dark cloud that was following me around had less density. I felt lighter and more able to support myself.

A week or so later I would be in France at his funeral, feeling the familiar inability to be upright, but this time knowing that when I was ready, I would be able to give my body and mind the space and gentle direction to help it recover from this deeply sad time.

Our mind and body are amazing – marvellous in fact. They have the capacity to repair and recover from the most challenging life events. The responsibility is with us, to provide the space and time that’s needed to hear what our body is trying to tell us.


More than just a title

This July will be the 20th anniversary of my graduation from the Brighton Alexander Training Centre. Twenty years is a long time to be teaching the Alexander Technique and I can happily say that I enjoy what I do and that I‘m good at what I do. But the question is; what is it that I do?

Before I learned to teach the Alexander Technique, I learned a form of energy healing from a small, grey haired lady, who had some pretty crazy ideas, but was extraordinarily full of love. She was totally convinced that this was my destiny…..I was very young at the time and thought very little of destiny or life paths or of the unknown future rolling out ahead of me.
So I learned how to harness energy, to hold it, channel it and release it. I learned how to meditate, the language of the Tarot, of colour and symbols. I looked at my stuff, mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and then learned how to hold the space so that someone (or indeed a group of people) could feel safe enough to look into their stuff. I practiced yoga, Tai chi, chakra dancing and chanting, and I loved it. The more I learned, the more a happier version of myself I became.

All in all a jolly happy story; but now, here I am trying to work out how to describe myself and what I do. For our fast moving marketing obsessed society I need to find a Unique Selling Point, something catchy, to grab my audience within a millisecond , before they move on to look at fluffy kittens. And everything about it makes my skin creep and crawl. The anarchist inside me wants to rebel against this world where we have to present a perfect self. I’m not perfect. I’m very, very flawed. I drink caffeinated tea, along with chocolate biscuits. I rarely get up before 9am. I like listening to music too loud for my ears. I say negative words – mostly about myself, berating myself for another late night. Successful people go to bed early (I read it somewhere, must be true). So if I was to present to the world a perfect version of me – it would be a lie – a really big one. I’m an average person, living an average life, with average flaws and just in knowing that I feel a huge sense of relief.

So what do I do? I stay present to each moment and hold the space to facilitate a clients healing/transformation of their situation. In amongst that I teach them what I can, of what I know and hope that they find it useful. I‘m not sure that there’s a name for this. Not one that really describes the sum of all the parts and certainly not a snappy one to market myself with. Well being is a growth industry, becoming increasingly multi faceted as time goes on. I know that I’m not alone in this dilemma. There are many people in the arena who don’t have a handy job title, mostly because they’ve made their job up, through no other reason than because the world needs people to be present, compassionate and nurturing –  they are beautiful, simple skills, which can be learned by anyone and celebrated by everyone.