The Alexander Technique - A Scientist’s Approach [CD]
Interviewed by Stephanie Smith
Published by: David Reed Media (UK)
First published: 2008
Mouritz Description
Chris Stevens was a teacher of the Technique for over 20 years. He researched various aspects of the human support mechanism and their relation to the Technique. This interview with Stephanie Smith was made shortly before his death and summarises his thinking on the Alexander Technique.
Review by Korina Biggs.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this hour-long interview. Chris has an easy and humorous manner and yet it is full of clear scientific explanation. It is mainly Chris speaking with Stephanie prompting him with a few questions.

He starts with a colourful depiction of his own childhood, leading up to becoming an 'adventuresome fella' with a Physics degree. He first heard of the technique when he'd realised that yoga was 'giving him more pain than it was taking out'. After lessons with Paul Collins he became 'hooked' and decided to train at Landsdowne Rd.

He goes on to describe various experiences and anecdotes from his training days, and then from his running of training courses in Denmark and Germany. His own drive to do research on the effects of the Alexander Technique led to a series of experiments, which he details in terms of their successes and frustrations. A highlight was the publication in the European Journal of Applied Physiology 1989 of a sit to stand experiment. He also studied postural sway, height and shoulder width, and blood pressure.

What became significant was that his research showed that splinting the neck and back had little effect on postural sway and this led him to question the primacy of the neck. His re-reading of Use of the Self and other material confirmed this. He realised that what was important was the inhibition of the interferences of the supporting reflexes, which broadly meant that only when the feet and legs were free could the neck be truly free.

Chris not only gives a clear scientific explanation of his way of interpreting FM's work, (and indeed goes on to give his definitions of 'inhibition', 'inhibitory direction', 'direction', 'primary' and 'control'), but he also gives his understanding of applying it to one's mental attitude. Not to react over-quickly so that we can 'make a response not clouded by our past', and an attitude of 'here I am doing my best and here you are doing your best and then to actually do your best'. The interview finishes off with more of a chat between Chris and Stephanie in which she wants to know whether since working with him her teaching as changed. This prompts a useful description of what happens to our 'movement muscles' when we interfere or not with our support system. If the listener doesn't know Stephanie then they are unlikely to understand what Chris refers to as the terrible insult that's been done to her leg.

My listening of the interview was in the light of having gone to several of Chris' workshops a couple of years before he died, and more recently to Stephanie's that draw on his work. This made it a poignant reminder and a helpful theoretical backdrop to the practical experience that I had in these workshops and in my teaching since.

2009 © Korina Biggs ( Reproduced with permission.

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