Walking Tall

 

I set out to meet with Susanna Scouller, a teacher at the Pimlico Centre for the Alexander Technique. Nestled between beautiful Georgian homes on Moreton St,   I waited in what was quite possibly the quaintest café just opposite prior to our meeting. Whilst I enjoyed the peaceful clinking of tea served in proper china I found it hard not to google anything on the technique and was saved by the distractions of a blueberry muffin.

 

My own insights were loosely related to a fad based celebrity culture of use. I cast my mind back to the many therapies and techniques I had encountered over the years either through bad keyboard habits straight through to post-childbirth and winced at the memories of pain and relief.

With back pain still being reported as one of the highest sickness related problems at work relating to poor posture it is easy to understand why therapies and treatments are plentiful in city circles. So what made this technique different or better even? It was time to find out, I finished my tea, walked a little taller and walked through the doors of Pimlico Centre.

My immediate impression when I met Susanna was how confident she stood, her frame projected a level of comfort that neither looked forced or practiced, just present. I was ushered onto the table greeted by a delightful electric blanket and felt utterly relaxed, well at least my mind did but my muscles were speaking a very different language.

AT is complementary to health in a way that differs from many other therapies, firstly there is no therapist, and this removes the dependency in a typical client and therapist role. This vital introduction set the scene for me, as I immediately went into student mode. Susanna’s guidance or ‘direction’ came through placing her hands on my muscles and creating a sense of awareness to response. It was neither massage nor exercise, but it left me feeling invigorated and relaxed.

Developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, an actor himself, to teach people greater awareness of their postural habits, and 'use' of themselves in all of their movements whether every day chores or specialised skills. 

 

Susanna herself was introduced to the technique through her own personal health reasons. Having been diagnosed with mild MS in her twenties she exhausted all avenues to improve her chronic back and neck pain before finding AT.  She firmly believes her case of MS has remained a mild one due to its intervention.

 

As we chatted the session drew to a close and Susanna guided me through a last ‘direction.’ There are many light-bulb moments in life and this was one for my head literally, I left feeling very aware of my head and the pressure release as I tilted back a little and moved my eye-line to adjust my line of sight. Again a token of awareness imparted by Susanna as she observed I overly extended creating unnecessary pressure.

I walked a little taller back to the tube station, the real test would come on the school-run later that day, but I had a feeling the pressure would be off my head… to begin with at least.

The British Medical Journal published a very successful study about the Alexander Technique and lower back pain a few years ago, this has certainly helped people take a closer look. If you are looking for technique to improve your postural habits or need that extra confidence to stand tall in that dress, then I would highly recommend a session.

 

For further information please visit Susanna's website.

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