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Thorsons Introductory Guide to the Alexander Technique: Review by John Naylor.

AT Focus: 
Alexander Technique
Article, essay
Article, citation and copright
Article Text: 
Written at the request of the publisher, Jonathan Drake’s new compact guide is part of a series of Introductory Guides published by Thorsons with eleven other titles ranging from Acupuncture to Shiastsu. It is an honest and sincere attempt to provide an informative, short and readable compilation of essential information which would enable an intelligent reader to make an informed judgement about what the Techniqueis, and what it has to offer. This is compared with the help offered by a range of other “complementary therapies” currently available.

Whether we like it or not and in spite of our protests to the contrary, the Alexander Technique has become firmly established in the public mind under the “Complementary Medicine” umbrella, and its therapeutic benefits are largely responsible for the Technique gaining credibility with the general public. The author’s opening makes his position dear: “It is first and foremost to do with self-discovery and re-education”.

In writing anything about the Technique it is always difficult to judge how one’s words are going to be understood by someone with no direct experience, but the essentials of what the Technique is and is not are clearly presented throughout the book. Chapter 4 – “How the Technique Works” – is a concise and very useful survey of evidence from various authors and scientific sources of how the mechanisms work; a handy recapitulation for teachers perhaps?

“The Technique and the Healing Arts” (Chapter 6) may prove contentious in its attempt to place the Alexander Technique in a wider context. For example, the plea for a “more informed contact between osteopaths, chiropractors and Alexander teachers and a better appreciation of the contributions each can make” in the light of the arguments and counter-arguments put forward by the author, seems entirely reasonable and in line with the experience of an increasing number of Alexander teachers. Additional help within the overall context of a commitment to the Alexander Technique can be very productive and sometimes makes it more possible to bring about a degree of co-ordinated balance that otherwise proves elusive.

The book has one rather indigestible diagram (re-printed from the author’s Body Know-How) and seven line drawing illustrations (including a delightful one of an eight month-old toddler), but other than as emblems which serve to break up the text, I am not sure how helpful they will prove to the uninitiated.

The appearance of a new book on the Technique in bookshops always leads to an increase in the number of people enquiring about lessons and I think this little book will prove a welcome addition to the information already available to the public – not least for the balanced assessment it provides.

© John Naylor. Reproduced with permission.

This edition © Mouritz 2005-2014. All rights reserved.