The Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a 120 year old method for improving balance and coordination, decreasing pain and tension and improving posture for the long-term. Starting with F.M. Alexander's work in the early 1900's, Alexander Technique teachers have combined specialized hands-on work and verbal instruction to help people from all walks of life learn how to live with comfort and ease. Teaching people how to observe and improve their own movement and posture often leads to improved athletic ability, better artistic performance in theater and music, increased mobility and coordination in daily activity, heightened alertness, and relief from chronic pain.
"Abbie has taught me what I can do to be mindful of my body and live free of back pain and headaches. She tailors her lessons to my exact needs, and I don't know what I would have done without her!"
Andrea Griswold, Middle School Teacher, Shelburne Falls, MA
Alexander Technique and Physical Therapy
With thirty years of experience with the Alexander Technique and medical experience with physical therapy, I work to help each student develop and implement an individual plan for maintaining a healthy and well functioning body throughout one's life.
Schedule a lesson: firstname.lastname@example.org 413-478-7600
Who Takes Alexander Lessons?
Musicians and Actors
People who sit long hours at desks and computers
People recovering from injuries and surgery
People wanting to improve their balance
People recovering from concussions
People living with chronic pain
People of all ages interested in regaining the pleasure and ease of movement observable in a young child
Schedule a lesson
"Taking Alexander lessons with Abbie, I became much more aware of how being mindful of my posture could have a broader set of health benefits. While the early effects are a reduction in stress and pain, the longer term effects are greater energy and increased physical and psychological well-being."
Susan Mosler, MD, Hadley, MA
My Background as an Alexander Teacher
Originally from New Jersey, I attended college in Boston, where I received a BA from Tufts University and a studio diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. I still divide my time between my work as an AT/PT practitioner and my art practice as a studio painter.
At the age of twenty five I was involved in a car accident, which left my car totaled, and me with neck and back pain and severe headaches. I was unable to work while suffering with these chronic symptoms. I tried everything I found available in Boston in 1985. That included physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic work. A year and a half later, still in pain and at my wit's end, I decided to seriously consider the suggestion of a friend and try something called the Alexander Technique (AT). "Just look at my 83 year old mother! Just like you, she had a car accident years ago and was miserable until taking some AT lessons, now she is better than before!" Skeptical, I nevertheless decided to give AT a try. What I experienced was hands-on work that lead quickly to mysterious and dramatic relief from my symptoms.
My lessons helped to reduce my symptoms and helped me understand why I was suffering. Through these initial lessons I learned how to think and move in more comfortable ways and to my surprise, to use my mind and body with an ease I hadn't known in a long time. I discovered that chronic pain is often not the direct result of injury, but caused by maladaptive habits that develop to compensate for injury. These habits need to be unlearned and replaced by healthy ones, and this is where the Alexander teacher can be of tremendous help. As much as I wanted to help myself and be better, I needed the skills offered by my teacher to accurately assess and help me improve my posture and movement habits. This close collaboration between student and teacher resulted in lasting and positive change.
After taking lessons from several teachers in Boston and Providence, I decided to make the Alexander Technique my career. I moved to Northampton, MA to join a then new three-year teacher training program, run by Missy Vineyard, called the Alexander Technique School of New England (since closed). Then twelve years ago I wished to broaden my knowledge and diagnostic skills and completed a masters degree in physical therapy at American International College in Springfield. Once licensed as a PT, I worked part time at a nearby orthopedic clinic and also maintained a private practice in Florence, Northampton, where I offer Alexander Technique instruction informed by my PT experience.
In 2011 life changed pretty dramatically. I suffered a blow to the head which left me struggling for several years with post concussive syndrome. I had to leave my position at the PT clinic because I suffered from visual and auditory problems and fatigue, leaving me unable to complete medical charts or keep up with the pace at a busy workplace. However, there was a silver lining. Just as my car accident years ago led me to AT, my brain injury led me to learn about the brain and to explore many new modalities for recovery.
What I discovered most dramatically is the largely unrecognized value AT lessons can play as part of a treatment plan for concussion. Among my current students are several who are learning to utilize AT to help with their concussion symptoms and finding significant relief. As students discover, AT has much to offer toward improving one's visual and vestibular systems and one's spatial awareness. AT also addresses components of balance and coordination often compromised by head and other types of injury and illness. In addition, AT offers constructive and simple methods for resting the mind and body, which I believe to be essential for successful recovery from injury.
For several years I have been practicing Dragon and Tiger Chi Gong, which I find to complement my AT practice. When appropriate and when there is interest, I integrate some of what I have learned of this ancient Chinese practice into my Alexander lessons. Conversely, students often bring their own interests with them to lessons. Whether it be their flute, tennis racquet, computer or walking sticks, we work together to apply a mindful, Alexander approach to one's daily activities.
"I came to Abbie to see if the Alexander Technique could help me with the post concussive symptoms I had been struggling with for a while. I am very impressed by the knowledge, compassion, experience and intuition she brings to her teaching. Her lessons have been instrumental in gaining relief from my symptoms and helping me to move forward to the next level of recovery. Learning to move in a manner appropriate for my body, from such a skilled teacher, has been an immeasurable gift."
Judee Rainville, Financial Advisor and Yoga Practitioner, Northampton
AT Private Practice
Since 1992 I have maintained a private Alexander Teaching practice in Northampton, where I work with people of many different ages and capabilities, in both individual and small group sessions.
Guest AT Instructor
Over the years I have taught in a variety of settings in and around the Pioneer Valley. These venues include: Cooley Dickinson Hospital, UMass Amherst Music Dept., Mt. Holyoke Music Dept., Smith College, Greenwood Music Camp, Springfield Parkinson's Support Group, Northampton Fibromyalgia Support Group, fitness centers, equestrian centers and retirement and senior communities. I have offered privately arranged classes at people's homes and workplaces.
Orthopedic Physical Therapist
I was employed as a PT at Orthopedic Physical Therapy and the Body Shoppe Fitness Center in Greenfield. I have also taught falls prevention classes at senior facilities. Now mostly in private practice, I integrate when appropriate, physical therapy with Alexander technique instruction and hands-on work.
Over many months of her work with me, Abbie re-oriented not only the way I thought about my body - its strengths - but especially the poor habits I had acquired over the years. For example, before my sessions with Abbie, I had frequent and debilitating back pain. This is no longer true. In addition, I usually manage as a routine, daily walks (with the proper stride) and lengthening/stretching exercises. I recommend her without reservation.
Travis L. Crosby, Author and Professor, Northampton, MA
Even after a relatively successful hip replacement surgery, I waddled rather than strode, my gait more sway than purposeful walk. Hoping to learn to walk with more ease, I sought Abbie's expertise. She instantly pegged me as an over thinking talkative type who lived full time above the neck. Under her tutelage I wised up to my bodily tensions and their effects on my posture and movements, whether I was standing in line, pulling on my stockings, or even chatting across a table with someone who made me uptight. Abbie's hands read my body. While mindfulness is the current buzzword, I would substitute "bodyfulness." After our lessons, it's as if I've clicked into place, wholly embodied, lighter, freer, fresher, taller, alive to my own innate poise and presence.
Deb Gorlin, Poet and College Writing Instructor, Amherst
AT lessons with Abbie taught me that some of my aches and pains were a result of my own doing, from body habits developed over time, which I didn't realize were counterproductive and inefficient. Through her gentle suggestions and body work, I have been steadily improving my posture and body awareness, and my aches and pains are now negligible.
Michael Goldman, Translator and former Carpenter, Florence, MA
"Although initially skeptical, I have found my work with Abbie not only helpful, but fascinating on multiple levels. Moreover, I greatly appreciate Abbie's personal qualities: she is extremely knowledgeable and confident, while maintaining a curiosity and openness to feedback, handling questioning and challenges gracefully and compassionately."
Suzanne Artemieff, Psychotherapist and Meditator, Conway, MA
Links and Resources
Books about the Alexander Technique
Other Recommended Practioners:
Julie Feinland, Acupunturist, Northampton,
Jill Geiger, Boston Alexander Teacher,
Amy Rothenberg, Licensed naturopathic doctor, Enfield, CT,