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I was in Istanbul with my partner, celebrating my birthday when my neck froze for the first time. We had visited Hagias Sofia in the morning, then went for an afternoon dip in an open-air thermal spa, followed by dinner in a tiny restaurant on the Bosporus. It had been a lovely day.

I woke up the next morning with my neck frozen in a spasm of pain, unable to turn my head sideways. At first, I blamed catching a draft at the spa and soldiered on through the day, exploring more of the city. Yet the pain persisted. A week later, on my return to London it was still there. And a week after that, it had not diminished at all.

With the pain coming and going, over the course of one year, I tried various therapies: some seemed to give me a few weeks or even a couple of month’s respite, some didn’t work at all. The pain and immobility, however, always came back. Suddenly, one day, I would wake up in pain, unable to turn my head. I was at my wits’ end, more and more unable to work, when a friend suggested I try the Alexander Technique.

Why not? I thought. So I gave the Technique a go. During the sessions, I learned that my slumped posture and tension habits over the years had contributed to my neck muscles becoming chronically tense trying to support my forward poking head. That any small trigger such as an extra hour at the computer or a bit of stress at work would be enough to send my over tense neck into spasm.  I learned to recognise my patterns of muscular tension and to change those habits to be more coordinated and poised.

I feel lucky to have discovered the Alexander Technique all those years ago. I was so intrigued to find that I not only could learn new skills to change my posture but that I had come across a powerful tool for personal development and self-awareness. Superfluous to say the pain never came back. 

Thus began my journey of self-discovery with the Alexander Technique. I decided then that I wanted to train to become a teacher. I qualified in early 2008 and I have been teaching full time since.

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An integral part of learning the Alexander Technique is to practise this resting balancing state. In semi-supine we are encouraging the back muscles to coordinate so that deeply held tensions can start to let go.

The intervertebral disks in our spine are subject to pressure during the day as our body weight pushes down. Cartilage and fluid in the disks are squeezed out into surrounding body tissues, as a result our stature shortens.

When the pressure on the disks is taken away, the disks have the ability to reabsorb fluids so, lying down in semi-supine actively helps the spine to plump up again.

Click to hear my audio guide to practising semi-supine floor work.

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Low-level letterboxes should be banned to prevent postal workers straining their backs or being bitten by dogs, a Conservative MP has said

January 29, 2019

It’s going to take a while to change all the low level letterboxes already in existence so, in the meantime posties could adopt some of the Alexander Technique advice on how to bend correctly. There are many posturally balanced positions that we can learn in order to use ourselves in an efficient, organised way, bending […]

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Alexander Technique for Embodied Mindfulness: My new course

January 20, 2019

A four-week evening course on Tuesdays 7:30-8:30pm February 5th-26th at Bloomsbury Alexander Centre This course is designed to convey mindfulness practices based on core Alexander Technique principles. The Technique is a mind-body strategy to wellbeing that helps us change the way we experience everyday life. When we are fully present in mind and body we […]

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“An Introduction to Alexander Technique for Mammographers”: Course I am running in London

June 24, 2018

I have been running these workshops for the Society of Radiographers since 2010. The latest took place on 7th June 2018. These interactive practical workshops are an introduction to the Alexander Technique as an educational training programme and specifically its application to working as a mammographer. The Technique is a practical method which involves the participants taking […]

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Explaining the Alexander Technique to clinicians and scientists: a very useful presentation

January 15, 2018

In late 2017, I attended an inspiring presentation (organised by HITE at UCL in London) given by Alison Loram and Ian Loram–“Mechanisms of sensorimotor control relevant to the Alexander Technique”. Particularly interesting to me was the scientific focus on the importance of the neck as a key factor in sensing and controlling motor response in […]

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Neck pain and Alexander Technique: New study

June 3, 2017

A new study in collaboration with the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique published in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates what has been known all along by Alexander Technique teachers: that improving the way we go about our daily activities can relieve a pain in the neck.

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Alexander Technique on the BBC

June 3, 2017

The potential of the Alexander Technique played a starring role in the BBC’s latest series of ‘Doctor in the House’ recently, when the doctor sought the advice of a practitioner of the Technique to help improve the posture of a Paralympian troubled by debilitating pain that was beginning to seriously compromise his sporting performance and […]

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Parkinson’s and the Alexander Technique

June 3, 2017

Here is a very interesting short clip about how the Technique can help with Parkinson’s.

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Published research on the Alexander Technique: My recommendations

October 30, 2016

More and more research is being done on the Alexander Technique. Here are links to a few academic papers which I particularly recommend: Lighten Up: Specific Postural Instructions Affect Axial Rigidity and Step Initiation in Patients With Parkinson’s Disease Increased dynamic regulation of postural tone through Alexander Technique training Neuromechanical interference of posture on movement: […]

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