In my last blog I wrote about my experience with physical therapy while dealing with a shoulder injury, and how the Alexander Technique was invaluable to me in my approach to the PT and my recovery in general.
Being an Alexander Technique teacher means that I have developed skills in a mindful approach to posture and body mechanics which proved extremely helpful to me. I decided, however, to also get additional help by taking some Alexander Technique lessons for myself.
I did this for a couple of main reasons:
- The injury had compromised my my overall coordination (my “use”). I was aware of compensatory patterns in the way I moved my arm and shoulder, and this in turn was effecting the way I coordinated myself as a whole. I wanted that extra pair of expert eyes (and hands!) to look objectively at what I was doing, and help me sort out what was going on.
- I had been meaning to take a series of lessons as part of my continuing education for some time, and the injury finally prompted me to take action.
And I confess that the hands-on help – that wonderful quality of touch that you get from an Alexander Technique teacher as they help you undo tension – was incredibly appealing too.
When you learn the Alexander Technique you are in many ways learning to be your own teacher. The more skilled you become at applying the Alexander Technique in your own life, the more you are able to coach yourself through new situations. That is the point: you do not need a teacher forever.
That being said, there are certain situations where another teacher can help, in a way that you alone cannot. Another teacher will always have a perspective to bring that you may not think of yourself. They can see the situation objectively in a way you can’t, no matter how advanced your skills of self-observation. This is not unusual. Indeed performers and athletes at the very top of their game all have teachers and coaches.
It has been wonderful to put myself deliberately in the role of student, and my current teacher, Ariel Weiss, continues to help me refine my own skills of awareness, self-observation, direction, not to mention anatomy! These lessons have been invaluable to me, not only in getting through the challenges of my shoulder injury, but also in giving me a whole host of new insights to help me both personally and to inform my own teaching. On top of this, I have also just returned from the American Society for the Alexander Technique‘s conference in Long Beach, CA, in which I was lucky enough to benefit from wonderfully stimulating workshops, small group classes and individual lessons with a variety of marvelous teachers, including Caren Bayer, Jessica Wolf, Judy Stern and Michael Frederick.
There are times in our lives when we all need a teacher no matter how advanced we are in a particular field. The Alexander Technique is a truly wonderful self-help tool, and some people only take a few lessons or classes and learn exactly what they need. If, however, you have the need or the interest, there is always something more to learn. And I find that truly wonderful.
Have there been instances recently when you have benefited from having a teacher or coach? How valuable has this been to you? I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment in the space below.