I remember taking my first yoga class, during a personal period of uncertainty and upheaval, and immediately feeling a profound connection to self through the practice as well as a sense that ‘everything is going to be okay’. My teacher, Martha, exuded kindness and encouragement and her personal yoga practice of twenty plus years permeated her presence: there was a vibrancy and glow to her physically and in the quality of her attention. I had taken yoga previously on VHS tapes but there was something special about stepping onto the mat in a warm, breezy studio, away from the bustle of the city, with other students and a live teacher. Many classes followed and I eventually branched out to enjoying vinyasa yoga classes. Classes where music was paired with the yoga practice made me feel like a special choreography was unfolding on the mat and enhanced the connectivity of movements.
Over time, I continued to enjoy taking yoga classes and became a certified teacher. Yoga itself grew more and more popular in the mainstream. While yoga was very beneficial to me, I observed that “off the mat,” I still had habits of stress and tension in everyday activities. Also, on the mat, a rigorous vinyasa practice with little attention to alignment was leading to at first on- and off-again lower back difficulties and eventually chronic pain. I sought out and learned a lot from alignment-based yoga teachings as well as helpful modalities such as massage, chiropractics, and acupuncture but still felt that something was missing. A massage therapist friend suggested I take an Alexander Technique lesson. “What’s that?” I asked. She said, “I don’t know how to explain it to you but you will love it!”
I took my friend’s advice and through my study of the Alexander Technique, was introduced to a simple yet profound and intelligent method for understanding my movements, habits, reactions and choices in everyday living. For me, the connection of mind and body articulated so beautifully in yoga was embodied and expanded upon in a wider sense through Alexander Technique work. My back troubles improved and that was not all – AT offered endless more possibilities to explore stillness, movement, and being in the world. The three years I subsequently spent in the Alexander Technique teacher training was a tremendously meaningful and rewarding time of personal growth and development. I also learned an extensive amount of practical knowledge about human anatomy, movement (including natural breath coordination), and techniques to promote awareness, self-knowledge and ease. The gift of Alexander Technique is something I use every day in all aspects of my life. I also teach yoga through the lens of Alexander Technique, which I have found to be a very valuable way to practice and learn about yoga.
My personal experiences – my challenges, my learning processes, and my breakthroughs – are what I bring to the mat when I teach yoga and to Alexander Technique lessons for my students. I believe each student brings her/his own intelligence, self-knowing, curiosity and interests to the class or lesson as well. When we meet and have a mutual interest in movement, awareness, and exploration, a synergy is created. This is the spark I felt when I was introduced to yoga and later to the Alexander Technique and I look forward to the possibility of sharing that spark with you.