At the beginning of this year I started lessons with you, primarily expecting to improve my physical health. I am leaving now with a glimpse of an understanding of how body and mind are connected, how important it is to stop, be quiet, listen, be patient and get rid of expectations to just experience the moment.
Thank you so much for introducing me to a different way to approach daily challenges and life in general. You have been a generous, patient and friendly teacher. Esther
I came to the Technique after hearing about the research study which showed that it could help people with back pain – I had chronic back pain for nearly ten years after an accident. I knew that I was sitting and walking badly, which didn’t help, but I didn’t know how to change. Sandra’s clear and structured explanations of the ‘natural’ use of our bones and muscles in movement, and of our habits of mind and attitude which form our body ‘posture’, enabled me gradually to become aware of my own tensions, and to unwind and rebalance both mind and body. The back pain is 90% better, and when it recurs I notice what I am doing to bring it on, and I have tools which enable me to come back to ease and alignment. This took me about six months to learn, but was more worthwhile than any other treatments. I continue with occasional ‘top-up’ lessons and I continue to learn. I love doing semi-supine, because I know it helps me stay pain-free and strong – just by lying down!
Phil M, accountant
When I first started AT I thought it would miraculously improve the poor posture that I’ve developed over decades. It didn’t do that, but it DID give me the tools to be aware of my posture and to understand how I can alleviate some of my ‘bad’ habits. I now know, thanks to Sandra’s help and observation that a lot of my problems stem from pushing my neck forward, which puts everything else out of alignment. That was definitely a ‘lightbulb’ moment!
There are many benefits of practising AT, some unexpected. For instance, I can sit through a long meeting more comfortably. No more slumped shoulders, crossed legs and stiff neck. Another benefit is understanding the need to make actions more measured and mindful (though there’s still a lot of work to do on that). These are the sort of little things that put together start to make a big difference to wellbeing. The best bit, though, is lying down for 20 minutes each day, letting tensions and tightness fall away and feeling those bones say ‘thank you’!
I first came across AT at Dartington College of Arts in 1984. The trainees at the Totnes training college came to us to practice and so we got free group lessons. After the first lesson I felt like I was flying, everything felt really light and easy, and I was hooked. AT is so simple and so gentle that it is really amazing it can have such a huge impact. Since that first time I have had lessons on and off. When I had a major neurological incident in 2009 I think my experience with AT has helped me recover some of the movement in my legs, because of my heightened body awareness built up over years of involvement with the technique. I started lessons with Sandra about three years or so ago and find her approach very pleasant. The way she works is very responsive to my needs of the moment. She uses some very powerful imagery to help let go of unnecessary muscular involvement and I always feel better after a lesson.
For many years I had a problem with pain in my arms and numbness in my hands which would often happen during sleep. I knew the problem was connected with tension in my shoulders but none of the various therapies and exercises that I tried gave a lasting solution. Then I came to hear about Alexander Technique from a friend and after taking sessions with Sandra I was able to enjoy mostly good sleep. It’s not that the problem has gone away but the important thing for me is that Sandra taught me how to fully relax my shoulders especially at night. I wasn’t at all aware that I was somehow hunching my shoulders thus causing restriction in flow of blood through my arms and this is what was causing the discomfort.
I’d wanted to improve my posture for years, but I’d also had problems with my neck, leading to light-headedness/dizziness, and with teeth gripping and grinding. AT has made me think differently, as well as being a protective practice I’ve threaded into my everyday life. My neck problem has improved out of all recognition – no more dizziness. I also have more of a sense of control; I know that if I’m tense or stressed or if I can’t sleep, I can actually do something to feel better – I can quickly feel more relaxed. It’s also changed how I interact with the world around me: I don’t go rushing through doors now, for example – there’s a momentary pause while my body adjusts to the contact I’m going to have. This makes progress through my day a bit calmer, a bit ‘softer’ if you like. It’s difficult to describe if you’ve not done it!
Of course, to arrive at this type of change takes time – AT is not an overnight fix. I think it took me 18 lessons before I had a revelation about its impact on my wider life, though there were lots of small positive steps along the way. It’s also not a ‘cure’ in itself; it’s rather a way of learning to live differently, one that requires engagement.
I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with back and neck problems. Or just to people who want to feel less stressed and pressured. Sandra is a great teacher – perceptive, open, friendly and willing to challenge. The only disappointment about AT is stopping regular classes when you reach a certain point…. but there are always top-ups!
Paul Tyrer, researcher
I definitely enjoyed my lessons and found the one-to-one sessions especially valuable as we could cover my particular questions. I came to Alexander to improve my posture, but I got out of it much more – a calmer attitude, a feeling that I was in balance and therefore that I was helping my body to work properly, not only now but in the future as I get older.
I came to Alexander technique and to Sandra Riddell via a sports injury therapist who suggested it as a means to better long term back health.
As a result of lessons I now feel more attuned to unnecessary tension and to the ways of moving and being that are detrimental to my spine and in general.
I love the lessons because what you learn not only makes a great deal of sense (Sandra explains things very clearly) but also because they are a really relaxing and calming experience.
I think AT has tremendous potential to improve your wellbeing and to help you develop ways of using your body efficiently and without strain. I intend to continue and see it as a long term investment in my health.
Marysia, speech and language therapist
I first came to Sandra for lessons in the Alexander Technique for help with two specific issues: repetitive strain injury associated with keyboard work and a knee niggle associated with running. The Technique has helped enormously with both; but not in the way I initially expected. Rather than working directly on the problem area (knee, wrists and so on) the Technique emphasises the interconnected nature of the body’s bio-mechanics and stresses the primary importance of the head-neck-back relationship. Through learning to pause and think about what I’m about to do before I do it, I am beginning to change my habits and have returned to typing (although not at my previous rate) and to running. For those, such as I, who choose to read and think about the Technique more deeply there are benefits for many other areas of ones life, perhaps particularly related to avoiding end-gaining. In other words to appreciate what one is doing now rather than eagerly awaiting what will come next. In short Sandra’s knowledge of the Technique and teaching style have helped me at work, rest and play.
George Callaghan, university academic
I didn’t know much about the Alexander Technique until I attended a few “taster sessions” at a support group. Having a very stressful time in my life just now, I thought I’d give it try, though not sure what to expect. WELL – I didn’t realise just how tense I was, and how wonderful it is to feel muscles relaxing during and after treatment. The release of tension through the technique is wonderful – having felt like a coiled up spring to feel the tension being released – it felt as though I was having all my “creases and crinkles” being gently “teased out” Thank you Sandra – much appreciated.
“I found the individual lessons with Sandra very enjoyable, allowing me to extend what I had learned in the group sessions; and putting into practice what I am learning is helping my back. Sandra has a calm approach and certainly lives what she teaches, and she lets you develop at your own pace.”
The Technique is great for unwinding me, but the greatest benefit has been a new interest in my whole ‘way of being’, which means I am often able to notice and make my own choices about how I react to the world around me. Sandra is a capable and generous teacher; I particularly enjoyed being able to choose what activity I wanted to work on once we had covered the basics, and being able to borrow books and articles to follow up various interests. I now apply the Technique to cycling, knitting, speaking in public and gardening, as well as my work and day-to-day activities.
Sophie R, nurse
“I was having problems with my back and neck and suspected it was how I moved that was the problem. Rather than look for a “quick fix” solution I wanted to find a method which would to teach me how to improve the way I moved. That’s why I looked to the Alexander Technique and I have to say I am delighted with the results. It has greatly improved my back problem and totally got rid of my neck problem. It has helped me in other areas of my life too, improving sports performance, dealing with stresses big and small and in helping me to relax and improving sleep. I very much look forward to my lessons and find Sandra’s teaching style non-judgemental, therapeutic, friendly and relaxing.”
I came to the technique with migraine headaches, which reduced almost immediately, and now (after four months of lessons) rarely happen at all. There have been bonus effects, such as a reduction in general stress levels, and a much greater enjoyment of life through learning the joy of more often being present and comfortable in almost everything I do. Sandra’s teaching style is gentle – her hands are magic – and educational as well as therapeutic, and helps you gradually to take charge of your own recovery. Her handouts and email reminders are very helpful to continue practising. When things are very difficult I return for a refresher, and I always enjoy my lessons.