Christopher Stevens (1943-2003), British teacher of the Alexander Technique.
Chris Stevens was a yoga teacher, and was the British Wheel of Yoga’s first National Organiser in October 1971. He was instrumental in introducing other yoga teachers – such as Ken Thompson and Ray Evans – to the Alexander Technique.
Stevens and his then wife, Trish Hemingway, trained at the Constructive Teaching Centre 1976–79. He became Assistant Director to Karen Wentworth’s teachers training course in Aalborg, Denmark, 1984–87, and took over the training course in 1987 after Karen Wentworth had graduated the first 12 teachers. Its name was The International School for F. M. Alexander Technique. The course moved to Hamburg in 1991, and later to Cologne where it closed in 1999.
He gave the F. M. Alexander Annual Memorial Lecture in 1988.
He completed his doctoral degree on the effects of functional electrical stimulation on the gait of children with cerebral palsy in 2003 at the University of Surrey.
Stevens’ own research covered the following topics: 1. sit-to-stand movements; 2. postural sway; 3. height and shoulder width changes; and 4. stress related increase in blood pressure.
- These studies included an examination of the influence of the leg position, an analysis of habitual and guided movement patterns (guided by an Alexander teacher) using a force platform and EMG; a comparison of unguided movements.
- These studies included the effect of neck and back splinting on postural stability when standing, a comparison of postural stability between subjects who had training in the Alexander Technique and those who had no training.
- This included the influence of Alexander lessons on static posture.
- This investigated the effects of the Alexander Technique in professional musicians under the stress of performance.
Chris Stevens published a short, snappy introductory book, Alexander Technique, in 1987.
He was editor of a booklet, ‘Medical and Physiological Aspects of the Alexander Technique’.
His F. M. Alexander Annual Memorial Lecture in 1988, ‘Scientific research and its role in teaching the Alexander Technique’ provides a brief summary of scientific research relevant to the Alexander Technique. 
The article, ‘Experimental studies of the F. M. Alexander Technique’, contains a summary of his research into the sit-to-stand movement, measuring trajectories, pressure on a force platform, and sway behaviour. He also reported on measurements of height and shoulder width and blood pressure before and after lessons.
Most of his research into the Technique was summarised in his book Towards a Physiology of the F. M. Alexander Technique.
The article ‘A choice of enquiries’ relates briefly to Benjamin Libet’s work and Rudolf Magnus’s work.
The article ‘Magnus, Coghill and scientific support for the Alexander Technique’ co-authored with Ariane Hesse discusses Rudolf Magnus and George E. Coghill’s discoveries and their relevance for the Alexander Technique.
Over the years Chris Stevens became interested in the role of the body’s support mechanism for the Alexander Technique. The article ‘The primary control: A new look at Alexander’s discovery’ focuses on the supporting reflexes, and how the support mechanism often causes ‘a spontaneous freeing the neck and the head going forward and up as a consequence. The same theme is detected in an extract from a transcript of a conversation between Walter Carrington and Chris Stevens in February 1997, published posthumously in 2006. His last article in 2003 also pursues this line of inquiry. A condensed excerpt from an unfinished book was published as ‘New developments in the Alexander Technique’ in 2004.
A summary of Chris Stevens’ view of the importance of the ‘anti-gravity mechanism’ for the Alexander Technique is given in ‘Chris Stevens and his work in Germany’ by Nadia Kevan.
‘Chris was convinced that the use of the legs and feet influenced the head-neck-torso relationship so fundamentally that it was here where we had to begin in order to maintain a free neck during activity. He called this the ‘down to up’ effect. From this time on he always worked with the feet and the legs first.’
Other writings include:
- Yoga (Know the Game) by Chris Stevens (not mentioning the Technique, but the yoga practice described is clearly influenced by the Technique).
- ‘Alexander and relativity theory’ by Chris Stevens is on the similarities between the insights Alexander derived from his experiences and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
- ‘The developments of the Alexander Technique and evidence of its effects’ in British Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation.
- ‘A new approach to analyzing cervical spinal motion’ by E. Schopphoff and Chris Stevens.
- ‘The influence of initial posture on the sit-to-stand movement’ by C. Stevens, F. Bojsen-Møller, R. W. Soames.
- ‘The science report: Errors don't stop when the paper is finished’ by Chris Stevens in Direction vol. 3, no. 3 edited by Paul Cook (Direction Journal, 2004), pp. 5–6.
- ‘The science report: New thinking on inhibition and primary control’ by Chris Stevens.
- ‘A tale of three conferences’ by Chris Stevens compares three conferences on the Technique in 1988: the 2nd Scandinavian Conference, the NASTAT conference, and the 2nd International Congress.
- ‘On Group Teaching’ by Chris Stevens in which he writes: ‘Frankly, until some careful research is done on the comparative effectiveness of different teachers and their apporaches, we simply don’t know if an approach is ‘good” or “bad”.’
In addition he wrote a number of letters and book reviews.
Chris Stevens’ approach influenced a number of Alexander Technique teachers, see for example the chapter ‘The psycho-physical support system’ in Ron Murdoch’s Born to Sing.
- ‘The support system’ by Nadia Kevan.
- ‘Chris Stevens and his work in Germany’ by Nadia Kevan.
- ‘The Psycho-Physical Support System© and breathing by Nadia Kevan and Ron Murdock is also based on Chris Steven’s work where starting with the feet activates the supporting reflexes; it covers a number of Alexander concepts, the importance of listening, self expression, as well as breathing and voice.
- ‘Chris Stevens’ obituary by Ken Thomson.
- ‘Dr Christopher Hubert Howard Stevens’ by Melanie Rae Nickoloaus.
Christopher Hubert Howard Stevens *14 August 1943 – †12 December 2003.
See also Christopher Stevens’s research.