Interview with an Alexander Technique Teacher
I recently had an initial Alexander Technique lesson with Angela Bradshaw and loved it. The technique is something that most people have heard of but not that many (me included) know much about it. Angela very kindly agreed to answer some questions to educate me.
Is it possible to summarise in a line or two what the Technique is?
You learn HOW to use your body well, and be more efficient and fluid in movement. It improves your posture, balance and coordination and as a consequence your health and wellbeing too.
I have heard of fantastic results. Without names can you mention a student that you are particularly proud of and really managed to help?
There are many actually, but in particular I am so pleased to have been able to help a client suffering with vestibular migraine who, when we began working was unable to work or drive due to incredibly difficult to manage dizzy spells. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch her health improve and her quality of life too has improved dramatically. She’s now able to work and can drive, she gardens, began canoeing again, and is so much happier and more fulfilled. Very rewarding.
Are there any problems that you can help with especially?
My particular expertise I feel is in helping people with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). As a previous sufferer I know the path they’re on, having been there myself. Back, shoulder, neck and wrist pain are effectively dealt with. Other issues I’ve personally helped with have been MS, breathing, anxiety, cycling, running, poor posture, pregnancy, mobility, musician’s performance, singing, confidence, bellringing, artists drawing, writing, computer posture……
To get benefit from the Technique how much effort/ commitment is required from the patient or student?
Great question. The student does have to actively participate. This is self help and the student is learning how to apply the principles to themselves during their own daily life, and activities they take part in. Like any new skill, it takes time for new ways of being to be taken up and incorporated. I ask that students do 20 minutes semi-supine daily as ‘homework’, it’s a very nurturing practice, it’s pleasant and free! I also ask that they ‘think’ about it whenever they can. The important thing is not to force it, it meant to be pleasurable, not a chore!
How did you get interested and want to become a teacher?
I had developed RSI to my Right shoulder which cut short my medical career as a sonographer ( Ultrasound scanning ). I was advised to take some Alexander lessons, and I went along, not knowing anything about it, just hoping it would lessen my pain somewhat. My first lesson was an epiphany! I knew right there and then that this was my life’s mission. Three months later I was enrolled onto a teacher training course to become a teacher myself.
Can you get treatment on the NHS or with private health insurance?
Yes it is possible, depending on the local area. I have a list of private health companies who do fund lessons.
What does mainstream medicine think of the Alexander Technique?
It’s generally supportive and is becoming more widely known. Physiotherapists, Speech Therapists have some notion of it as part of their professional training and often recommend AT to patients. Pain Clinics recommend it to their patients. Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Pyschotherapists recommend it to clients.
Can you point to any published studies that prove the Technique?
In June 2012 University of West England published a paper on the effectiveness of AT with pain management
Taking Charge; Choosing a New Direction. A Service Evaluation of Alexander Technique Lessons for Pain Clinic Patients (SEAT): an Approach to Pain Management>>
In August 2008 the BMJ published an article demonstrating the effectiveness of AT on back pain
Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain>>
You are writing a book. What is it called and who is it aimed at, what will they get out of it?
Be In Balance is the title of my book and it is a simple introduction to Alexander Technique.
It’s aimed at conscious thinkers, creative individuals who are open and willing to learn and interested in their own personal development.
Readers will learn to understand their body, how to release pain and tension, gain mental clarity and to be their personal best. As a result of that they will be improving their posture, balance and coordination naturally too. I hope it will be used as an interactive handbook for modern living.
Would you recommend a young person to follow you and become a teacher?
I would definitely recommend all young people to have lessons. And if they have the passion for it, the time and the funds to consider the training, it would be of great benefit to themselves. It’s not an easy way to earn a living as a teacher however, so I would ask that they consider that carefully! But where there’s a will there’s a way, as they say!
Angela works in Chobham, Surrey
Tel 01276 858929