Guided Lessons for Students of the Alexander Technique Paperback – Sep 2010
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The book begins with an overview of the purpose and objectives of the Technique and a brief but clear glossary of the common terms used. The book is organized with tabbed sections grouping the exercises to illustrate general topics: Practical Applications, Essential Basics, Core Concepts, and Technical Explorations. The new edition is set out in a sequence that is meant to be revisited as the student's understanding of the principles of Alexander Technique deepens and his/her awareness expands.
Each section includes activities for practicing pausing, noticing, inhibiting, directing, and allowing. Featured activities range from standard Alexander lesson-procedures such as sitting, standing, semi-supine position, monkey, and whispered "ah," to practical activities such as putting on socks or steering your car. Each lesson includes a description and explanation of the activity along with points to keep in mind and suggestions for bringing it into daily life. The focus ranges from exploring kinesthesia and composure to discovering "up" direction and the primary control.
The authors envision the student practicing a lesson for about five minutes, several times per day. They suggest flipping to lessons that catch your attention and revisiting sections guided by curiosity, rather than working cover-to-cover.
The appendix provides basic anatomical information, a short resource directory, and a list of Thoughts for the Day--prompts for practicing the Technique during moments of everyday living. While the book does not include historical or biographical accounts, F. M. Alexander is acknowledged by quotes interspersed throughout the text.
My favorite feature is the recurrent Ask Your Teacher icon in the form of a pointing finger. This icon is meant to encourage students to ask their teacher for guidance regarding complex, unconscious habits and otherwise elusive new experiences. The book does not purport to be a "teach yourself" manual, nor does it insist that "teacher knows best," but instead aims to foster a constructive relationship between student and teacher. It is useful for students who wish to practice between lessons and for teachers who want to empower students to explore on their own and to bring personal insights and pertinent questions to lessons.
In addition to designing the current book, Mary Beth Wilker provided the numerous photos that illustrate each activity. As in the original version, Neil Schapera serves as model for the pictures. I admire his ability to demonstrate "poor use" without looking too comical, as well as his skill in exemplifying "good use." Many of the photographs are annotated with words and/or arrows, and along with the straightforward text, they make this book a useful resource.
The nifty tent-style design of the original spiral-bound version allowed the book to stand up on any flat surface and to be read hands-free, but the new edition may be a beneficial addition to your library even if you already have the previous one; some of the text has been revised, expanded or broken up to finer details, exercises have been added and the overall organization of the content is both methodical and user-friendly. These notable improvements in content and organization more than make up for the re-design as a traditionally bound volume.
Helps to create at - home lessons that align the body and mind and allow one to discover a natural ease.