Every Day Movements

EXPLORING MOVEMENT THROUGH GROUP ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE CLASSES

Wednesday mornings at English Yoga Berlin

Group Alexander Technique classes in Berlin

Our habits permeate our daily lives, from the way we squeeze a lemon and carry a child in our arms to sitting in front of our computers, pouring tea, and climbing stairs. In this group Alexander Technique classes, we will examine these everyday movements through the lens of the Alexander Technique. We will explore ways to interrupt habitual patterns and introduce a newfound ease into our actions.

How does the course work?

We begin by delving into the Alexander Technique directions while in a semi-supine position. We familiarize ourselves with the five fundamental principles of the Alexander Technique. With each session, we select a specific action and look at the ways how we shape our bodies to perform it. Our focus is on maintaining our primary control and adapting our actions to serve us, rather than contorting ourselves to complete the task.

The teachings are delivered in an engaging manner through interactive games, observation, partner work, and self-awareness exercises.

For whom?

This class is open to all, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced student. While having prior experience with private Alexander Technique classes can be helpful, it’s not a requirement for participation.

In my experience, individuals who benefit the most from the Alexander Technique combine private and group classes. Private sessions allow us to address your unique habits and guide you towards a more effortless way of being. In group classes, students can explore new ways of incorporating these principles into their lives while honing their self-awareness skills.

When?

Class Schedule:

  • Wednesdays from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at English Yoga Berlin

This course begins on January 10th, 2024.

Price

This group Alexander Technique classes are available in two formats:

  • 6-week modules: €65 for the six classes
  • Drop-in class: €15

If you have any further questions or wish to register, please feel free to reach out:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

Pinelopi embarked on her yoga journey in 1999, completing a 600-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course in Valencia, Spain. She founded English Yoga Berlin in 2010, and now has over 15 years of experience as a full-time yoga teacher.

She deepened her knowledge by studying Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff. Additionally, she trained with David Moore and attended his “Injury-free yoga” workshops, integrating the Alexander Technique into yoga poses. This comprehensive training enriched her expertise in both fields.

In January of 2023, Pinelopi achieved a significant milestone by becoming a certified Alexander Technique teacher. This was an intensive training for 3.3 years, totaling 1600 hours of dedicated study with Jorg Aßhoff.

Pinelopi’s ergonomic consultations integrate anatomy, Alexander Technique, and yoga’s mind-body understanding. Her holistic approach optimizes well-being in the workplace through comprehensive guidance.

She has completed a 3 day training on “Understanding Trauma for Safer Spaces” with Legacy Motion, and is now studying “Somatic Embodiment and Regulation Strategies” with Linda Thai. Her meditation philosophy is deeply inspired by Tara Brach, especially the RAIN meditation.

Cycling and the Alexander Technique Workshop:

Discover Balance and Efficiency

Are you finding yourself exerting more effort than necessary while cycling? Are you tightly gripping the handlebars? Do you notice restricted breathing or discomfort in your back and shoulders? In bustling Berlin, cycling is a part of our daily routine, yet we often carry our ingrained habits onto our bicycles. These patterns can hinder our progress, even as we pedal towards our destinations. But what if there’s a way to make your cycling experience smoother and more effortless?

Dear Wonderful Community,

I’m excited to let you know that a special workshop awaits, where the transformative power of the Alexander Technique meets the world of cycling. Over the past four years, I’ve immersed myself in the technique while cycling daily through vibrant Berlin, experiencing heightened ease and a newfound sense of effortlessness. Now, I’m eager to spread this knowledge and share it with you.

Where:

Tempelhofer Feld (Meet at the Tempelhofer Damm entrance; specific spot to be announced)

Date: This workshop was on Sunday, September 3rd, 2023 at 11:30 am.

****If you missed the workshop and would like to have come, sign up to the newsletter to find out when it will happen again. Alternatively, if you have a group of people that you would like to take this workshop privately, write me an email and we can organize a date!

Duration:

Approximately one hour

What to Bring:

Your trusty bicycles and any necessary safety gear

What Awaits You:

During the workshop, you’ll embark on a journey to:

  • recognize your cycling habits
  • learn how to pause as a means of interrupting the habit
  • experiment with different ways of cycling that reduce effort while increasing ease

Price:

Participation comes at a price of 25 Euro (19% VAT is included)

How to Secure Your Spot:

Write me an email at:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

A Note on Capacity:

While Tempelhofer Feld is vast and seemingly endless, my commitment to offering personalized attention means I am limiting participation to a cozy group of 10. To ensure your spot, it’s advisable to secure your place as soon as you’re able.

Thank you for being a part of this community, and I look forward to embarking on this journey of discovery and growth with you.

Warm regards, Pinelopi

Testimonials:

This workshop was a good and very enjoyable practice of riding the bike with less tension and effort. And it gave me some very helpful suggestions and tools based on the Alexander Technique to experiment with – like the reminder to let the neck be free and think of lifting the legs instead of pushing them down.

Andra Vaida

Pinelopi embarked on her yoga journey in 1999, completing a 600-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course in Valencia, Spain. She founded English Yoga Berlin in 2010, and now has over 15 years of experience as a full-time yoga teacher.

She deepened her knowledge by studying Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff. Additionally, she trained with David Moore and attended his “Injury-free yoga” workshops, integrating the Alexander Technique into yoga poses. This comprehensive training enriched her expertise in both fields.

In January of 2023, Pinelopi achieved a significant milestone by becoming a certified Alexander Technique teacher. This was an intensive training for 3.3 years, totaling 1600 hours of dedicated study with Jorg Aßhoff.

Pinelopi’s ergonomic consultations integrate anatomy, Alexander Technique, and yoga’s mind-body understanding. Her holistic approach optimizes well-being in the workplace through comprehensive guidance.

She has completed a 3 day training on “Understanding Trauma for Safer Spaces” with Legacy Motion, and is now studying “Somatic Embodiment and Regulation Strategies” with Linda Thai. Her meditation philosophy is deeply inspired by Tara Brach, especially the RAIN meditation.

Pinelopi

Vibration Workshop

A joyful journey through the sounds and vibrations of our bodies based on the principles of the Alexander Technique

We welcome you to this Vibration Workshop to delve into the realm of sound within our bodies. Often, we overlook the fact that speech, song, and chant all begin with vibration. In many ancient wisdom traditions, creation itself is said to have begun with sound and vibration. We have grown and been born amidst these vibrations, including the act of listening.

In our daily lives, we tend to forget about this fundamental truth and become disconnected from our origins. We do not take the time to listen to ourselves, and we habitually think and speak without being in contact with our bodies. But what if we were to pause, inhibit our actions, and become conscious of what we are doing? What if we could experience that we could do less? What if we got to know what supporting systems we have in us?

There is a prevailing belief in our society that reaching our goals requires a considerable effort. However, what if we were wrong? What if we could accomplish things with ease? What if we could trust our bodies and acquire the tools to support that trust? And what if we were to rediscover our natural voice? If we were to explore the spaces of sound within our bodies, what kind of voice might we uncover?

What unique sound would it make?

This Vibration Workshop includes?

  • Vocal awakening sessions for the body: including shaking and buzzing
  • awareness and inhibition exercises and games, with partners and without
  • a guided Chakra vowel session where we learn how our thoughts can guide our voice
  • Alexander Technique hands on work of Pinelopi and Sibylle, mirroring what is happening in our bodies

When?

Saturday July 8th, 10.30-13.30

For whom is this Vibration Workshop for?

This is for anybody who likes to express themself with their voice. You do not have to be an experienced speaker or singer to join… be curious and open to discovery!

Maximum 12 participants

Where?

English Yoga Berlin Görlitzerstr. 39. 10967 Berlin

Price and how to Register?

48 € for the three hour workshop

Early bird price: 40€ if you register before June 8th, 2023. To register please write an email to:

sibyllegfellner (at) gmail (dot) com

About the Teachers:

Sibylle Gfellner is an experienced teacher of the Alexander Technique and an assistant at the Alexander-Technik Schule in Berlin. She has also received training in bodilance (from Petra Kunz Blunert) and Bewegungsevolution (from Martina Kunstwald). Sibylle has worked on several projects with Community Schools, Hochschulsport (HU), and SPZ Charité, helping children with chronic headaches.

Finding her own voice has always been a deep longing for Sibylle. She studied theatre at INAC in Berlin and singing and had the opportunity to work with the director Carlos Medina, where she first came into contact with chakra voweling. Her research has led her on a journey from classical music (with Sam Thiel) to new music (with Fatima Miranda), as well as yodeling (with Ingrid Hammer) and Georgian singing (with Frank Kane).A great source of inspiration for Sibylle is Shrikrishna, a master of Pranayama meditation.

Beginning her yoga journey in 1999, Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain.  For the last decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. She studied Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff, and “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses with  David Moore.  She is also an Alexander Technique teacher, and has recently graduated from Jörg Aßhoff‘s school in Berlin. Through a combination of her knowledge of anatomy and the Alexander Technique, she regularly offers companies ergonomic consultations and grounding workshops. One of her greatest inspiration is Tara Brach and her teachings.

Retreat on Yoga and The Alexander Technique

ONLY TWO SPACES LEFT- join this beautiful opportunity now!

Email Pinelopi : pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

Friday June 16th, 2023 15:00- Sunday June 18th, 2023 14:00

Yoga and the Alexander Technique are a powerful combination that can improve body awareness and break ingrained habits that affect our movements. The Alexander Technique provides small adjustments to improve coordination and overall body function, while yoga enhances strength and flexibility. By integrating these practices, individuals can move mindfully and reduce stress and tension in their bodies. Practicing yoga with the principles of the Alexander Technique can help individuals move more efficiently and avoid unnecessary strain in everyday life.

Where?

Rosenwaldhof– This retreat on “Yoga and the Alexander Technique” will take place in a beautiful place in Brandenburg, 1.5 hours South-east of Berlin, on the river Havel, surrounded by nature.

What is included in the “Yoga and Alexander Technique” retreat:

  • Three Hatha Yoga Sessions
  • Meditations
  • An introduction to the Alexander Technique with Jörg Aßhoff
  • Mandala stone painting
  • Mindfulness Walks
  • Delicious vegetarian/ vegan meals, tea, coffee and fruit
  • Fun awareness games
  • Bonfire, star gazing, and perhaps even swimming (if weather permits)

Prices:

The full cost of the inclusive retreat is 306 –  426€ (depending on your accommodation preference)

Accommodation options plus delicious food:

  • Shared double room with private bathroom
  • Single room with shared bathroom
  • Single room with private bathroom
  • camping with shared bathroom

Please note that payments to Pinelopi for the tuition (200€ incl.19%VAT) and Rosenwaldhof for lodgings and food (136€-226€) will happen separately .

Early registration discount:  Tuition to Pinelopi costs 155€ if you register for the yoga retreat before May 1st, 2023. To reserve your space, please send an email and deposit 50 Euro by bank transfer or paypal.

*The deposit is fully refundable if a cancellation occurs before May 15th, 2023, and 50% refundable if cancellation occurs before May 25th, 2023. After which no refund is possible.

Since space is limited, register early before the spots fill up!

For more details, please write to:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

Worried about canceling due to corona?

I completely understand. You could purchase a “Reiserücktrittsversicherung” (travel insurance) or “Seminarrücktritts-Versicherung” that can reimburse you in case of sickness. In the unlikely case that I get corona and am unable to come, you will get the tuition money back and can still go and enjoy Rosenwaldhof, the lakes and forest, and the wonderful food and accommodation.

About the teachers:

Beginning her yoga journey in 1999, Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain.  For the last decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. She studied Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff, and “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses with  David Moore.  She is also an Alexander Technique teacher, and has recently graduated from Jörg Aßhoff‘s school in Berlin. Her workshops and retreats are inspired by Tara Brach‘s teachings.

Joerg Aßhoff –  is an experienced Alexander Technique Teacher with a 30 year working experience. He is now the director of the Alexander-Technik-Schule in Berlin, teaching the next generation of Alexander Technique teachers. His expertise includes teaching at the University of Performing Arts, Community schools, and speech therapy schools. He practices Zen meditation since 1990 and studied with a Japanese Zen master for a long period of time.

Semi-supine Audio Guides-Part three

Stretching the Leg Without Compromising the Back

This Alexander Technique audio guide on stretching the leg from the semi-supine is part three of a longer series which you can access here. If you like using these guides, please consider contributing with a small donation through paypal.

Photo by Gianpaolo Antonucci on Unsplash

Today we explore how to stretch the leg without hollowing the back. The idea is that we observe the lower back as we stretch the leg and stop before it hollows. Then we give Alexander Technique directions and wait for the body to adapt. Often, when you wait, thinking your directions, and resisting the urge to interfere and wanting to change… a sort of melting occurs on its own. Your body “let´s go” in a different way to the way you use yourself usually. You are welcomed to write me an email and let me know how you experienced this!

Photo by Gianpaolo Antonucci on Unsplash

About the Author:

Hello! I am Pinelopi and I am an Alexander Technique Teacher in Berlin. I completed my training with Jörg Aßhoff over a period of three years and three months (1600 hours). I love giving Alexander Technique classes and uncovering deep habits. My favorite moments are when a student discovers new ways to use themselves and an “A-ha” expression lights up their face! If you want to book a class, contact me. To find out more about my background click here.

For me, the Alexander Technique is a way of life, and as such can be combined with any activity of life. I love to combine it together with the practice of Hatha Yoga. If you would like to see how that works, I invite you to join the “Yoga and Alexander Technique” class starting on March 9th, 2023. The yoga poses do not change, the experience of them does though!

Free Semi-Supine Audio Guides: Directions

Thinking the Basic Alexander Technique Directions through the semi-supine audio

In this free semi-supine audio guide, we explore thinking the basic Alexander Technique directions and observe what kind of effect they have on our selves. These directions are:

  • Let the neck be free.
  • Let the head go forward and up (explained in the guide).
  • Let the back be long and wide.
  • Let the arms and legs be long.

Would you like to listen to more semi supine audio guides? Then you can click here.

About the Author:

I am Pinelopi and I am an Alexander Technique Teacher in Berlin. My training was 1600 hours long with Jörg Aßhoff over a period of three years and three months. I love giving Alexander Technique classes and uncovering deep habits. My favorite moments are when a student discovers new ways to use themselves and an “A-ha” expression lights up their face! If you want to book a class contact me.

Yoga and the Alexander Technique Berlin

We carry our habits everywhere. If we tend to stress our neck before we lift our arm, we will do that regardless whether we are reaching for a box or bringing our arms up into the Warrior pose. The Alexander Technique looks into these deep habits and gives you small impulses that make a big difference in how to access a better coordination with your body as a whole. In this Yoga and the Alexander Technique course we will look at ways we enter yoga poses through the lens of the Alexander Technique, with the intention of uncovering deep habits.

How does the “Yoga and Alexander Technique Berlin” Course work?

Each class will consist of:

  • this course consists of four classes
  • beginning with ten minutes of the semi-supine with hands-on impulses
  • yoga poses
  • looking at how to do the poses with an Alexander Technique lens
  • 10 minute guided relaxation
  • space for questions and comments (optional)
  • this is a studio only class, it will not be streamed online

For Whom?

This course is for anybody who is interested in yoga or who is interested in the Alexander Technique. It is designed in a way that you can participate, regardless of your level of experience.

What to bring?

Mats, blankets and chairs are provided at the studio. For hygiene, it is best if you bring your own equipment, but you are welcome to use ours too!

When?

Every Thursday 8pm starting on March 9th to March 30th, 2023.

Duration: 1hour and 15 minutes.

Price: 40 euro if you sign up for the 4 classes, 14 euro if you want a drop in class.

Where?

English Yoga Berlin Görlitzerstr. 39 – Berlin

How to Sign up?

About the Teacher:

Beginning her yoga journey in 1999, Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain.  For the last decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. She studied Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff, and “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses with  David Moore.  She is an Alexander Technique teacher and has graduated from Jörg Aßhoff‘s school in Berlin.

Design the meditation Posture that fits your specific body

How to find a meditation posture with less tension through the help of the Alexander Technique

Is your back in pain when you meditate? Do your legs go numb within the first minutes or get ankle pain? Do your shoulders tense up and affect the back of your neck? Have you had a meditation teacher tell you to simply sit through the discomfort without giving you individual support for your posture?

All these things are habitual when sitting in meditation, but are they actually necessary? Freeing the mind of thoughts is difficult enough, so why not spending some time understanding how to make the posture more suitable to your individual needs?

We all have different types of flexibility, postural habits and body structures. Suggesting a one-solution fits all is not helpful in the long run. This is why we created a workshop to give both general and personalized tips on how to make the posture work for your specific body by applying Alexander Technique principles to your meditation posture.

This workshop includes:

  • Looking at the postural habits that bring about pain.
  • Understanding how to engage the feet while meditating.
  • Finding your personal meditation posture in sitting and in walking with the help of an experienced Alexander Technique teacher plus an experienced yoga teacher
  • 20 minute meditation session where you can try-out your new found knowledge

When?

Sunday October 16th, 2022 – 11.00 -13.00

For whom?

This is for anyone who would like to reach a position more at ease while meditating. You do not have to be an experienced meditator to join… to be curious is enough!

Maximum 12 participants

Where?

English Yoga Berlin – Görlitzerstr. 39. 10967 Berlin

Price: 45 Euro

Early registration discount: 10 € discount if you register before September 20th, 2022. The workshop is refundable unless cancellation occurs later that October 4th, 2022, after which 50% refund. After October 4th, 2022, no more refunds are possible. Please register before the spots fill up!

What to bring:

Materials will be provided at the studio. However, you are also welcomed to bring your own cushion or meditation bench.

How to sign up:

Please write an email to:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

or

book directly your place here.

About the Teachers:

Joerg Aßhoff –  is an experienced Alexander Technique Teacher with a 30 year working experience. He is now the director of the Alexander-Technik-Schule in Berlin, teaching the next generation of Alexander Technique teachers. His expertise includes teaching at the University of Performing Arts, Community schools, and speech therapy schools. He practices Zen meditation since 1990 and studied with a Japanese Zen master for a long period of time.

Pinelopi Sioni is in her third year of the Alexander Technique teacher training course, studying with Jörg Aßhoff in Berlin. She completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain. For over a decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. She then studied Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff;“Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses with David Moore. Her workshops and retreats are inspired by Tara Brach‘s teachings.

The Alexander Technique and my Feet

As a person born with a club foot and having received corrective surgery as a baby, my feet have always been a sensitive spot for me. The way I learned to use my body as a child was a way to protect myself from pain and from movements that felt impossible to do. As a result, these habits of use developed into a very particular way of movement that brought me into decades of chronic pain. It has not been all bad. The pain brought me into yoga and stretching of very tight muscles. That in turn, brought me into the Alexander Technique and a deeper understanding of what it is I do that increases the tightness of those muscles.

The Alexander Technique does not deal directly with a single part of the body. A teacher will always work with the body as a whole, and that will have an effect on a specific part in an indirect manner. In short, one could say that for an Alexander Technique teacher, “Feet are never just feet. Feet are a reflection of the whole body.”

So these past three years of intense Alexander Technique have changed my whole body and the way I use it. As a result of these changes, three indirect changes have also occurred at my feet.

My foot grew a size.

Well, I guess it didn’t grow like kids’ feet grow .. but it must have released to fill its true size, because I no longer shop for size 41! I am assuming that I have had a lot of tension in my feet and that has been scrunching them up to a shorter size. At the beginning I thought that this was only me, but then one day when we were talking in class I realized that this has happened to half of the trainees in my course!

Fortunately I am the kind of person who only owns two pair of shoes, and this change did not mean a massive investment into my wardrobe!

Good bye insoles.

As you might imagine, being someone with my kind of history has made me always dependent on medical custom made insoles. Furthermore, after my club foot leg was lengthened it never reached the full length of the other leg. Doctors have told me different kinds of measurements from 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters difference…. apparently enough to create back pain.

I remember talking about insoles during one of our breaks in my first months of training. My teacher was being very cautious about staying completely neutral on the subject of insoles. Other trainees were saying negative comments about insoles… comments I have heard before, such as “Insoles make the feet lazy”. I felt the need to be protective over my insoles and responded loudly how my insoles have reduced my pain (something I still do believe). Inside me, there was turmoil. And somewhere, a little bit of hope. Could it be that I could get rid of them one day? Could it be that the way I walk changes so much that I do not need custom made insoles and shoes?

And then corona happened. Waiting at the doctor’s office for a new prescription of insoles felt reckless. Going to shops to buy new shoes and bringing them to another shop to change their height really did not feel like a high priority when we were isolating and living through a lock down. And so slowly, remembering the conversation I had at the beginning of my course… they left my life. At the beginning, there was pain and confusion in my body. But within two months, I was so surprised to find there was no more pain and that I could do without them. I have now been over a year without insoles. Something I never thought would be possible. And yet!

The way my shoes wear out is different.

In the past, the soles of the shoes I had would wear out quickly. The wear out was uneven. The outer edge of the sole was more worn out than the inner edge, causing a diagonal slant. This would happen within the first four months of having a new pair of shoes. What this means is that I would put more pressure on the outer edge of my feet when I walked, wearing the sole out unevenly.

But this too has changed! I bought new shoes and have been wearing them now for nearly a year. It makes me so happy to look at the soles and still see that they are evenly worn out. No more diagonal slants. My walking has changed. Where I put the pressure is different. And my shoes are proof.

About the Author:

Pinelopi is in her 3rd year of the Alexander Technique teacher training course, studying with Jorg Asshof in Berlin. She is now taking on Alexander Technique tester students. She is working at half price (25€) until she graduates in the spring of 2023.

Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain.  For over a decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. She then studied Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff; and“Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses with David Moore .Her workshops and retreats are inspired by Tara Brach‘s teachings.

How does Alexander Technique Table Work differ to Massage?

During Alexander Technique lessons the student learns how to break deeply embedded habits and create new ones. This happens while working together with a teacher in different positions: sitting; standing; walking; laying down on a massage table (aka table work). While the teacher performs table work, new students often misunderstand this part of the lesson as receiving a massage. However, although there can be similarities, table work differs to massage in many ways.

Direct Versus Indirect Approach

A massage therapist works with a direct approach. What this means is that they often release tension through using a deep tissue touch. They often focus on a specific problem that there client might be feeling in their body, and are working directly to release the tension around that problem. An Alexander Technique (AT) teacher, on the other hand, uses an indirect approach while performing table work. Their touch is a very light touch and does not go into deep tissue release. The release the student experiences is through giving themselves directions while assisted by the teacher’s hands. If a student is experiencing a specific problem, say pain in the shoulder blade, an AT teacher will not work directly with the shoulder blade or nearby muscles. Instead, they will focus on the coordination of the whole body and thus affect the shoulder blade indirectly.

A massage predominantly addresses muscles which then gives a feeling of release to their client. Table work predominantly addresses the nervous system which also gives a feeling of release, through enhancing overall coordination. Both methods provide release. One approaches it directly, the other one approaches it indirectly.

Student Versus Client

In the Alexander Technique we talk of ‘students’ and ‘teachers’. In massage there is the ‘massage therapist’ and ‘the client’. What is the difference?

The Alexander Technique is a learning method and a re-education of our nervous system. When receiving a class there is active participation from the student, even during table work. The teacher’s light touch only gives the student a stimulus inviting them to be active in their release process.

Receiving a massage, on the other hand, tends to be more uni-directional. The massage therapist gives the massage, the client receives it. The massage is something that is done to the client, and requires no active participation from the client. Massage offers an experience to the client, while table work offers a release of undue tension with the purpose to help the student experience and learn to use their body differently.

Let us take the previous example of the pain in the shoulder blade. A massage can work on releasing that pain, but it will not focus on how the student got the pain in the first place. The Alexander Technique will work on recognizing the habits that brought around the issue. It is a learning process, involving a student and a teacher.

Massage often is about relaxation, healing and therapy with a massage therapist providing the experience. An Alexander Technique teacher, is more focused on the learning process of the students and its nervous system. Although the Alexander Technique has therapeutic effects, these are more a by-product of the technique. The focus is learning.

Lying Down Versus Semi Supine

In most massages the clients are laying down on their backs or on their bellies with the legs stretched out.

In table work, the students are laying down in the semi supine pose. This pose is used in order to create the most balanced relationship between our neck, head, and back. Again, the purpose here is the coordination of the whole body.

Skin Contact Versus Clothes

Many massage methods (but definitely not all of them) require you to take your clothes off so that the massage therapist works directly with skin contact and oils. In AT table work, the student keeps their clothes on and there is no direct skin contact. It is, however, recommended that the student wears comfortable clothing that allows the teacher to move the legs and arms easily.

Eyes Open Versus Eyes Closed

From my understanding, in most massages the client can choose what they do with their eyes. It is common for people to close their eyes when they undergo a deep relaxation and a release of tension. Thus, although closing the eyes is not explicitly asked for during massage, it tends to happen on its own.

In the Alexander Technique the student is asked to keep their eyes open during table work – if not for the whole time, then at least most of the time. This was for me, personally, very challenging at the beginning. The reason for open eyes is to learn to let go while remaining present with the world around us. We often get carried away with the visual stimuli in our every day life. Part of the AT re-education includes ‘how can I be with you and stay with myself at the same time?’

So How Does massage differ to Alexander Technique Table Work?

First, let me say that I am using a very general term here when I am referring to massage. Massage comes in many different shapes and forms. There are massages with clothes on and off; massages with different degrees of therapeutic capacities; massages that when done regularly are also creating a re-learning and re-organizing of the body.

The purpose of this article is to try and create a more accurate picture of what to expect during AT table work.

So to sum it all up, here is what to expect:

  • The teacher uses a very light touch creating a stimulus for the student’s body to do the releasing.
  • The teacher will use an indirect approach and will focus on the overall coordination of the body.
  • Even during table work the student is invited to actively participate in the release of tension.
  • Therapeutic effects are by-products of the Alexander Technique. The focus is on re-education, not healing.
  • The student lies down in the semi-supine during table work.
  • Table work happens with clothes on.
  • The student is invited to keep their eyes open.

About the Author:

Pinelopi is in her 3rd year of the Alexander Technique teacher training course, studying with Jorg Asshof in Berlin. She is now taking on Alexander Technique tester students. She is working at half price (25€) until she graduates in the spring of 2023.

Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain.  For over a decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. Currently she is deepening her knowledge through Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy Course,  David Moore’s “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses. Her workshops and retreats are inspired by Tara Brach‘s teachings.