Blog of the Week: Autism, the Alexander Technique, and Me

Originally posted on  by  as a guest blogger at Robert Rickover’s

Caitlin Freeman, Alexander Technique Teacher in Pittsburgh, PA

Caitlin Freeman

As a person on the autism spectrum, I have struggled with sensory issues all my life. My mother describes that when I was a child, she needed to “tame me to touch like a wild animal.” When people would touch me, it felt like an electrical burning sensation.

Over time, my parents learned that I could tolerate deep pressure, and I gradually became accustomed to their touch. Unfortunately, everyone else’s touch still felt so uncomfortable that as a child and teenager, I would avoid other people to keep them from possibly coming in contact with me.

Predictably, my behavior greatly limited my social interaction. My extreme sensitivity to touch continued through my teenage years and into adulthood.

By my early twenties, I had severe sensory and social problems that I was determined to solve. The resources in my small town were limited, but there was one person nearby who taught the Alexander Technique. On the recommendation of a family friend, I started taking lessons in 2003.

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Blog of the Week: Shoulder Surgery, Alexander Technique, Physical Therapy and a Ski Pole

Originally posted by Julie Rothschild on July 10, 2014 at

Julie Rothschild lying down in Constructive Rest

Lying down prior to PT helps.

I’m 2 weeks out. Biceps tenodesis, distal clavicle excision, subacromial decompression. Rotator cuff was fine. Phew. My first day of PT was 5 days post-op and I wouldn’t let her move my arm more than a few inches away from my body. The pain was extraordinary and my fear of that pain was even more extraordinary.

What do we tend to do in the face of fear, and fear of pain? Freeze up. And that’s what I did every time she even hinted at moving my arm. She was super kind about it all. Her suggestion that I take a pain pill before my next appointment was well heeded. It helped immensely.

My lack of mobility and very limited range of motion was mostly coming out of my fear of pain. That first day of PT was such a lesson. I didn’t even have to feel pain to send my system into startle. Anticipation is all it took. Now I’m singing Carly Simon.

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Blog of the Week: Trajectory

Originally posted on June 29, 2014 by Fran Engel at

My colleagues and I have been discussing how we have acquired an interesting skill as a by-product of having studied Alexander Technique…

Catching a falling knife, it’s a poor practice. On Wall Street it means to buy on the way down. In a word, don’t. In the kitchen, well, that’s pretty obvious. Don’t try it at home kids—no falling knives—especially, if you’re like me, pretty uncoordinated, at least in the past. Today, I catch falling objects in mid air—no knives yet—with speed and accuracy, the top of a carrot, the very top, a sheet of paper caught in the wind and on its way down, a fork, a spoon, the very edge of wet dish. Now, why this new found aplomb? Unlike the rest of you, I am getting older, reflexes should be slowing down. I can only attribute this new reflexive sangfroid to study of the Alexander Technique. It has radically improved my over all coordination as well. When I go into a squat in class some people gasp. I do too. Crap, I think, just how old do these people think I am? So, study the Alexander Technique, and develop your own super-powers. Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Alexander Guy, flying without his pocket protector. Thrilling stuff!
- Alan Bowers, Alexander Technique teacher

I think that I know what has been happening. Click here to read more.

Blog of the Week: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Originally posted by Brett Hershey on June 24, 2014 at


And This One?


And This One?


And These?

    IMG_8873     IMG_8869     IMG_8907

Some things are so clear in hindsight. Yet, from the inside or when you’re going through it, it’s hard to see. When I had debilitating back pain in my mid-20s, I didn’t know why.

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Blog of the Week: Seven Eleven Breathing to Calm Anxiety

Originally posted by Nick Chapman on June 18, 2014 at

Seven/eleven breathingSeven Eleven Breathing is a nice little breathing exercise I learnt from Pat Williams who is a Human Givens therapist.

We all get stressed sometimes, but it is the accumulation of stress overtime that is the danger. The people who come to my Alexander Technique practice or perhaps visit one of my Alexander Technique workshops haven’t usually integrated relaxation into their lives as a daily activity and this is like missing a main meal. We need to de-stress. The problem can be finding the time. That is where seven eleven breathing can be a real help.

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Blog of the Week: The reason why articles on “how-to” perform exercises are useless to you right now… and how to make them useful again.

Originally posted by Victoria Stanham on June 6, 2014 at

The internet is full of articles on how to do and how to improve your execution of almost any exercise.

Want to improve your posture? Search for “posture exercises” on Google. Want to tighten up your core muscles? Search on YouTube “core exercises”. Want to learn how to do barefoot running? You search for “how to start barefoot running”. Etc.

Even I had thought of writing today a guide on how to do isometric abdominal exercises (planks) without tension (they’re in vogue apparently… all my students ask me to teach them those… they even came out in the last edition of Yoga Journal).

But if identifying what you want to change (e.g. posture), and googling what exercises remedy the condition were enough, we’d all be set for life (and a whole lot of teachers and coaches would be out of business). However, not one of those articles or videos will help you see why it is that the exercises should work but actually don’t do so fully.

Therefore, before starting to fill the cybersphere with even more how to articles, I want to clarify what you need to know before you read another how to article on specific exercises. Only then will you be able to take advantage of the invaluable information floating around the web.

It all starts with your BodyMap…

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Blog of the Week: Alexander Technique Inhibition

Originally posted by May 28, 2014 by Mark Josefsberg at

Alexander Technique InhibitionThe Alexander Technique and habits of thought.

You may find yourself playing out some crazy future scenario that may or may not happen.

You may find yourself criticizing yourself in a way you’d never criticize anyone else.

You may find yourself ruminating about something over which you have no control.

Breathe… Smile… because you just found yourself.

You just found yourself becoming aware of a habitual thought pattern. Somehow a gap happened temporarily stopping, or inhibiting, your train of thought… and here you are, looking out at the crossroads.

You can now switch routes.

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Blog of the Week: Presence and Performance

Originally posted on May 18, 2014 by Ulysses Chuang at

Over the past few months I’ve been filming Alexander lessons with a student of mine. I then edit the recordings down to 7 minutes to share them on YouTube.

Eric is a professional musician finishing his master’s degree at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Paris. For the first two lessons we worked on playing his two instruments: the baroque cello and the viola da gamba.

For the third lesson, we went outdoors and worked on something completely different: skateboarding!

For each lesson, he’d play a little music or skate, we’d do some classic Alexander work at the chair, and then we’d go back to his instrument or skateboard. Each time, he noticed after the chairwork that his practice had suddenly become “easier” to do.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /


Blog of the Week: Alexander Technique vs. Massage

Originally posted by Ariel Carson on May 12, 2014 at

Ariel Volunteering for the Avon Walk

Ariel Volunteering for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Sounds of the rainforest permeate the lavender scented room. Lying between soft clean sheets, a warm heavy pillow rests on your abdomen. You close your eyes and breathe deeply while a skilled masseuse slowly and evenly kneads out unruly knots and rock hard tension. Your obligations and to-do lists melt away, and you are left with pure and decadent relaxation.

Yes. Please. ThankYouVeryMuch.

Most of you would probably agree a thorough deep tissue massage from time to time is a little slice of heaven. So why on earth would you spend your precious resources taking Alexander Technique lessons, when you could instead just keep getting massages?

Consider this:

1. Long Term Pain Relief

While a massage will often TEMPORARILY relieve chronic tension and pain, the Alexander Technique teaches you how to reorganize your musculature, reducing excess tension and strain, and helping you access LONG-TERM pain relief. Talk about sustainability!

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Blog of the Week: Critical Thinking and Conscious Awareness

Originally posted by Fay Putnam on May 6, 2014 at

Kauai. HII am curious how many of us are conscious about disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed with evidence. That is one dictionary definition of critical thinking.  I will admit that until now I have not really given the subject much thought.  My suspicion is that most of us sometimes approach problem solving with such disciplined thinking and yet, sometimes we apply it not at all.  The Alexander Technique totally facilitates and encourages the act of critical thinking.  In our practice of mind-body awareness we learn to pause before barreling into habitual reactions to life’s challenges.  By slowing down our reaction times we then are afforded time, especially at critical moments, to think in a clear and rational manner.  To me, this slowing-down opportunity is the paramount outcome of practicing the technique. Time and again in my writing and teaching I emphasize the value of learning to insert the pause and then conscious breath into our daily habits.

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