All Alexander Teachers share a fundamental set of skills, but teachers develop their own style and preferred tools over time. The form your lessons will take will be unique to you—your learning style and needs—and your teacher. Here are typical answers to a few general questions, but there are as many answers as teachers.
Click on a question to find out more.
- What are the professional standards for a teacher of the Alexander Technique?
- How long will each lesson last?
- How frequent should my lessons be?
- What happens in an Alexander Technique lesson?
- How many lessons will I need?
- What should I wear to the lesson?
- Once the lesson is over, are there any activities I should avoid?
- Will I be given exercises to do at home?
- Are there any books I will need to get?
Rigorous standards for certification of Alexander Technique teachers were set in London in the middle of the twentieth century; today in the United States, these same standards are upheld nationally by the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT) and internationally by Alexander Technique Affiliated Societies (ATAS).
To achieve certification, teachers must train for at least 1600 hours in an AmSAT-approved course over a minimum of three years; to maintain certification, they must engage in and document regular postgraduate training; finally, they must abide by AmSAT’s Professional Code of Conduct.
This varies by teacher, but lessons typically last 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Ask your teacher for their recommendation.
Students find that they progress most rapidly when lessons are scheduled at least weekly: when more time passes, the patterns you are seeking to change reassert themselves more strongly and there may be less progress from lesson to lesson. Depending on your needs and your teacher’s recommendation, you may find short but more frequent lessons especially effective.
An Alexander Technique teacher will personalize your lessons to address your needs and interests. You will never be asked to persist with an activity you find uncomfortable. Three main kinds of activity are typical:
- Fundamental, universal movements, such as sitting, standing, bending, walking, grasping an object, speaking, and so on. When we improve in these movements, we lay the foundation to improve any activity.
- Tablework: the student lies down on a table and the teacher guides the student in simple movements, informed by thought and awareness. The purpose of the table is to allow the large muscles of the back to rest while continuing to work on the principles of the technique.
- An activity from your daily life that you are hoping to improve in.
When or if one of these types of activity is introduced depends on your teacher and your learning process. Whatever the activity, however, the emphasis will be on not what you do, but how you do it. Your teacher will help you recognize underlying patterns—those that support and those that interfere—that you bring to your activities so that you can discover how to go about them with the greatest ease and freedom of movement.
This is best answered in stages:
- It is advisable to take more than one lesson before deciding whether the Alexander Technique is for you;
- 20–30 lessons make up a wide-ranging course in which many kinds of activities and types of movement can be thoroughly explored;
- as with any skill, there is no limit to how far one can advance in the Alexander Technique; a small percentage of students continue to study intensively in lessons and workshops, or even train to become teachers themselves.
Come in your everyday clothes. The only clothing that could cause a problem would be clothing that is particularly restrictive to movements such as raising your arms, taking a wide stance, and so on.
One possible activity in an Alexander Technique lesson involves lying down on a table, so women might feel most comfortable wearing pants. If you are wearing a skirt, the teacher might place a blanket over your legs; alternatively, you may choose not to do tablework that day.
We would advise against taking your first Alexander lesson on the same day as a job interview, public performance or similar high-stakes activity, in case you experience an unexpected change and find the unfamiliar sensations distracting.
The purpose of the lessons is to make your life easier: once pupils have taken a few lessons and know what to expect, they often choose to take an Alexander lesson on just these important days because they find that the Technique helps them to be at their best.
If you have the choice, it is good to schedule your Alexander lesson for when you will be able to have a little quiet time afterwards, but it is not essential: many people take lessons in the midst of their busy schedule.
Yes, but it all depends on what is meant by exercises. In the Alexander Technique, the emphasis is on building awareness in order to be able to undo habits that interfere. From time to time, your teacher may suggest activities you can try at home to help you develop this awareness. These won’t take the form of repetitive movements but rather things you can try at moments in your daily life, only as you have time and mental space. When you come for your next lesson, there will be no test!
Not as a requirement, no. Some pupils, however, find it helpful to take time between lessons to learn about the principles of the Technique. Your teacher may suggest some good books, YouTube videos, blogs or podcasts that might support you in your learning. We have put some recommendations for books, YouTube videos, blogs and podcasts here.