Alexander Technique
Joan Frost ACAT, AmSAT

MY ALEXANDER STORY

Due to a brace I wore on my legs in the first few years of my life and to bad gymnastics training as a child, by my early teens I had developed a severe sway back and bulging rib cage.  I wore baggy peasant blouses to hide my shape and couldn’t stand for long without extreme lower back pain.  Additionally, an accident to my upper back at the age of nine rendered it impossible to sit unsupported for long before my back became hot, then numb.  I had to give up my piano lessons, and typing papers in college was agony.  My mother had taken me to an assortment of doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists, but nothing had helped.  I was resigned to living a diminished life with constantly recurring pain.

When I was physically active, I felt better.  I turned to majoring in dance at the University of California at Santa Cruz and through my learning of anatomy and kinesiology there, my sway back began to lessen. I got rid of the peasant blouses. 

Upon graduation in 1975, I moved to New York to further my dance training.  In the course of my immersion in the New York City modern dance scene, a friend and fellow dancer told me my neck was very forward and that I should really study the Alexander Technique.  I reached back and felt my neck and to my surprise found she was right. 

At first, the Alexander lessons seemed mysterious.  The closest I could relate to them was previous readings in Eastern philosophy, particularly Zen.  Also, the teacher saw deleterious movement patterns that I didn’t have a clue about, yet something in me had the sense that she was right.  For the first time in my life, my upper back started changing.  The pain between my shoulder blades began to dissipate.

Sitting on a mountainside in Sardinia overlooking the ocean, I realized I wanted to become a teacher of this work.  I came home, signed up for enough lessons to total the requisite thirty, and enrolled in the intensive three year training program at The American Center for the Alexander Technique in New York City. 

Now I am essentially pain-free and can sit for hours without back support.  (I sit at my computer on a stool.)  I am amazed at the large rocks I am able to pull up and move in my garden.  And people have remarked at my unconsidered standing on one foot to put the other sock and shoe on.  In my yoga class, balance is my strongest suit.

The Alexander Technique has helped me become less reactive and more present both to myself and to the world around me.  Most wonderfully, I feel good, really good, most of the time.  I feel grateful to my friend who persuaded me to study, my fine teachers, and to Mr. Alexander for developing this work which has contributed so greatly to my sense of well-being.