December 2005

Among all of the fellow luvvies queued up correspondence received to learn how he did it. So

by practitioner Noel off eve went to learn too… Kingsley, is a letter with a royal crest upon it proving that anyone who is anyone should be doing the Alexander Technique. That includes you.

What is it?

The Alexander Technique is a bit of a curiosity. You’ll find entries for it in encyclopaedias of complementary medicine, but medicine or therapy it ain’t. The technique was devised by an actor called FM Alexander in the early 1900s to overcome muscular tension and resultant voice problems that impaired his stage performances. Seeing his ‘new, improved’ performance, it seems

The eve sampler

It was disappointing not to find a crush of darlings in Kingsley’s London W1 waiting room. Kingsley has used the technique for 30 years. He was taught by an Alexander legend, Walter Carrington, who learned from Alexander himself.

Confidence in such

a pedigree certainly helps to offset the disconcerting presence of a saddle on a mounting block in the corner of the room, but at least there are no whips. ‘The first thing to understand is that we are not going to do anything,’ says Kingsley, in his gentle Scottish brogue.

Meaning of life?

So why am I here? I’m about to unlearn the bad postural habits I’ve picked

up along with life’s other baggage, that’s why. Kingsley shows me photographs of young children and African bushmen and women. Their natural posture and ease with their bodies is obvious. It’s that relaxed stance and freedom of movement I’m aiming to achieve, NOT learn. The Alexander Technique is an unlearning experience.

Kingsley hands me a heavy yellow bin liner: ‘That’s how much your head weighs’, he says. ‘Don’t worry, there’s not a head in it, just 101b of sugar. Heavy isn’t it?’ I agree and we start rebalancing my head. I stand up and Kingsley stands behind me. With his hands on the back of my neck I am encouraged to loosen my neck and think Upward and Slightly Forward Thoughts. The idea is that posture changes follow your thoughts so that the head extends gently forward, the spine lengthens and muscles and joints are released for better body alignment and freer movement.

Being a loose woman

Meanwhile, I practise sitting down and standing up. It’s an act of faith to sit on an unseen chair behind you. But I’m confident that there will be no clowning around with Noel -this is not Crinkley Bottom and there is no Mr Blobby, only me looking like a loose limbed ape woman with arms dangling, hands hanging ungainly at my side and head slightly forward. It’s certainly a peculiar feeling to sit down and get up without ‘doing’ anything, letting Kingsley somehow do it for you by leading your head with his hands on your neck.

Noel does a similar trick while I am lying on a table. The fact that I am lying on a hard, flat surface allows him to gently lift and reposition arms, legs and shoulders on the surface in order to lengthen and expand the body. ‘Loose and expansive’ are key words in our conversation, along with ‘tall and relaxed’.

Is it for you?

If you are vertically challenged, Kingsley claims the technique can make you up to two inches taller. It is also recommended if you want to improve your posture and breathing, become calmer, or for neck pain, backache or sciatica.

A testimonial from a 103-year-old client of Kingsley’s says, ‘I feel taller, my breathing is easier and also being looser helps me to maintain my balance in those winter winds, which previously threatened to blow me over.’ See? It’s never too late to change.

And the saddle?

I didn’t need it – it’s for people with hip problems.