Alexander Technique small group class

5-week Group Class
January 4 - February 1, 2010


Monday evenings (class will meet on Jan 18, MLK day)
1/4, 1/11, 1/18, 1/25, 2/1
Center for the Arts at Christ Church in downtown New Haven

$185 (includes one 45 minute private lesson)
Class size is limited to 6
Advanced registration is required

Over 100 years ago F.M. Alexander was looking for a way to resolve recurring vocal problems. Today the Technique is proven effective for relieving chronic and recurring back pain (as shown in a 2008 study in the British Medical Journal), injury prevention and recovery, enhancing performance skills, stress reduction and much more.

Join Rachel in a small friendly group class environment. Students will participate in group activities, demonstrations, and discussion. Each student will receive individualized attention and have the opportunity to observe others in the learning process.

Walking, bending, speaking, and other daily activities can be transformed when we shift our awareness, creating the opportunity for change.

Testimonials from past group class students:

"I'm falling asleep faster and sleeping more deeply, and waking up with much less back pain."
-Kevin Bailey, IT Manager and singer

"Rachel brings her experience, professionalism, training and compassion into this learning situation. She so obviously cares about this work and about sharing it with others, so others can move forward and improve the quality of their own lives. Rachel shares her own story as a performing artist and what this work has done for her art. Throughout my experiences in Rachel's classes, I have continuously been blown away by the metaphorical resonance of this work; the Alexander Technique is life. I am extremely grateful to have had Rachel introduce this important work to me; it has changed my life."
-Janet Zamparo, Professor of English Literature and singer

"The Alexander Technique helps me relax and feel more comfortable in my body. I am more at peace in my own body."
-Bohdana Smyrnova, Filmmaker

To register:
Contact Rachel


link to blog post about Alexander & Yoga workshop

My friend, student and Rolfing Practitioner, Brooke Thomas, took my workshop last Saturday 11/21 at Fresh Yoga and it inspired her to write a very interesting and personal reflection on her own path to wellness.



Free Introductory Class Nov 9th - Reminder to reserve your spot!

Monday November 9th from 6:15-7:30pm
Erector Square, New Haven

Join Rachel for an introduction to the Alexander Technique in a friendly low-key environment. The class will consist of discussion, group activities and hands-on demonstrations.

Seating is limited for this class and it's filling up quickly.
Advanced registration is required to reserve your spot.

Workshop in Alexander Technique and Yoga

Click here for more information

I'll be teaching this workshop on
Saturday November 21st 1:30-3pm
at Fresh Yoga - in their new Ninth Square space.
space is limited. Advanced registration required

This workshop will focus on enhancing your yoga practice through the application of the Alexander Technique!


A recent article about the Alexander Technique

I am currently writing a regular article on practice building, featured in each issue of the AmSAT News, a tri-annual news and journalistic publication of the American Society for the Alexander Technique. Here's my latest installment:

Building a practice in the Alexander Technique

Focus on Kitty Breen from Cambridge, MA

By Rachel Bernsen

Originally published in the AmSAT News, Issue No. 80, Summer 2009

Kitty Breen had a successful career in the non-profit and business world before she decided to become a full time Alexander Teacher. She trained as a teacher in order to heal debilitating back pain resulting from a car accident as a teenager. Two weeks after graduating from teacher training in 1992, no longer in pain, she entered a graduate management program at Yale. After a number of years in Education Philanthropy she decided to teach the Technique full time, but found she couldn’t make a living as an AT teacher. She was dismayed that something so seminal in her own life couldn’t translate into a living wage. She changed her strategy by rethinking her personal mission, asking herself, “What is important to me about this, if not the money.”

Kitty found that it was important for her to separate out the need to make a living (although admittedly a necessity) from what she saw as her real goal: to relieve suffering from pain and to give back the benefit of what she received from this work. Clarifying her goals left her more confident to promote the work instead of herself, or her practice.

Now in her sixth year of full time teaching, her practice is thriving. Her teaching has focused on people with chronic and acute pain, and her attention to this demographic has led to partnerships with members of the medical community. Breen has cultivated her relationships with doctors and hospitals carefully, waiting until she felt assured in her presentation, use, and knowledge of her practice.

She offers a complementary lesson to doctors who attend her presentations. Dr. Don Levy, who spoke at the 2008 AGM and is head of the Osher Clinical Center for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has become a mentor of Breen’s; he is also one of her students and overcame back pain through regular lessons. Kitty is also now in Osher’s referral network.

In addition to private lessons, which are the foundation of her work, Kitty has organized her practice into several courses as part of “The Educated Back”™ series. “Back to Basics”™ is an 8-week course that includes one group class and one private lesson per week. She also offers a 6-week continuing education course called “Back on Track”™ that follows the same format. She feels this model is much more successful than just a group class or just private lessons, particularly for those suffering from back pain. Another success has been her introductory 2-hour course called “Freedom From Back Pain”™, which includes one private lesson. It is a prerequisite for the “Educated Back”™ series but is also designed to be useful to those who may not be interested or able to pursue ongoing lessons or classes.

Kitty’s syllabi are the result of many years of thoughtful research (her presentation at the 2008 Int’l Congress addresses this research) and feedback from her students, all of whom she asks to fill out comprehensive evaluation forms.

These programs provide students the tools they need to resolve their pain in an efficient and economical manner; their successful implementation has allowed Kitty to realize her goal in serving others while supporting herself.


Next Introductory Class is Monday November 9!

FREE introductory class in the Alexander Technique.
Monday November 9, from 6:15-7:30pm

Location: Erector Square in New Haven

Join Rachel in a friendly group class environment. Rachel will introduce the Technique through discussion, hands-on demonstrations, and group activities.

These introductory classes are always well attended and space is limited so, please reserve your spot.

To register or for more information: Contact Rachel


Great reading on the Alexander Technique!

Here's 3 to get you started:

Back Trouble
, A New Approach to Prevention and Recovery by Deborah Caplan
A practical guide to the principles of AT. Great photos and visual aids, anatomical drawings etc. Not just for people struggling with back pain. Great for all students of this work. Written by a prominent Alexander Teacher who taught the Technique at Juilliard for many years and was the co-founder of the American Center for the Alexander Technique (ACAT), the oldest teacher training program in the US.

Body Learning by Michael Gelb
A great readable introduction to the Alexander Technique. Philosophical musings and practical information rolled into one. Shares his own journey with this work. Great photographs (with a few exceptions). Written by an Alexander Teacher and a Consultant to business and professional groups world wide.

How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live, Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self Mastery. By Missy Vineyard
Missy shares her knowledge of neuroscience, stories of her students: their breakthroughs and struggles, and her experience as a teacher and director of the Alexander Technique School of New England (ATSNE). The book also includes guidelines for self-experiments. It's a wonderful book but not %100 recommended as your first read on the Alexander Technique. (Read it along with other texts or while taking lessons or classes).

More recommended reading to come...

All the links above are to AmSAT Books. Used copies of most of these texts can be found on Amazon.


I'm teaching Alexander in NYC at Movement Research starting Sept 2nd

Every Wednesday 12:30-2pm
Sept 2nd - Oct 28th
at Movement Research at Eden's Expressway
537 Broadway, 4th flr. (bet. Prince & Spring)

Group class for dance artists.

$13 single class
Class cards available -- good for all Movement Research classes


Alexander Technique & Stretching Class

The Alexander Technique & Stretching
Sept 13 - Oct 11 (no class on 9/27)

4-class series
Sunday evenings from 5-6:15pm

At The Center for the Arts at Christ Church in New Haven
84 Broadway (Entrance on Elm St.)

$100 for all 4 classes
class size limited to 8
Advanced registration required--contact Rachel to register

Whether you stretch after exercise or as part of an injury recovery program, the Alexander Technique can help you maximize the benefit of your stretching routine.

The Alexander Technique can help you undo excess muscular tension that gets in the way of effective muscular release. Proven to increase range of motion, it teaches you to release into the stretch instead of strain.

Join Rachel in a friendly class environment. downward dog, forward bend, stretching quads and hamstrings, and low back releasing can be transformed when we shift our awareness.

Students may bring their own yoga or floor mat.


Fall 5-week Group Class

Alexander Technique Small Group Class
Sept 14 - Oct 19 (no class 10/12)

5 classes + 1 private lesson
Monday evenings 6:15-7:30pm

Location: Erector Square, New Haven

Cost: $185 (includes a 45 minute private lesson)
Enrollment limited to 6
Advanced registration required -- Contact Rachel to register

This class is open to new and returning students.

Over 100 years ago F.M. Alexander was searching for a way to resolve his recurring vocal problems. Now, a study recently published in the British Medical Journal shows that the Alexander Technique is more effective for treating back pain than other conventional or alternative therapies. A recent New York Times article recommends all back pain sufferers try the Technique before more invasive interventions.
People also use the Technique to alleviate stress, improve balance and coordination, enhance, performance skills, increase range of motion, and much more.

Join Rachel in a small friendly group class environment. Here, students observe each other in the learning process, engage in discussions, and participate in group activities. Walking, speaking and other daily activities can be transformed when we engage our mind, creating the opportunity for change.


NEW Alexander Group Class


5-Sessions + 1 private lesson
Monday evenings, 6:15-7:30pm
July 20 - Aug 17, 2009
(July 20, 27 and Aug 3, 10, 17)

Throughout my experiences in Rachel Bernsen's classes, I have continuously been blown away by the metaphorical resonance of this work; the Alexander Technique is life. As a result of this work, I have found freedom in creative expression and in any expression, period. My art, both in performance and the visual, has blossomed. I have found comfort in my body and as a result in my entire self. Alexander Technique is powerfully transformative. The physical results of comfort and health are in and of themselves enormous; however, the spiritual and psychological results for me have been awe inspiring. Rachel brings her experience, professionalism, training and compassion into this learning situation. I am extremely grateful to have had her introduce this important work to me; it has changed my life.
-Janet Zamparo, Singer and Professor of English

Join Rachel in a small and friendly group class environment.
Walking, speaking, and other daily activities can be transformed when we engage our mind, creating the opportunity for change.
Students will receive individualized attention and explore the Technique through demonstrations, activities and discussions.

5-session class fee: $185 (includes one 45-minute private lesson)
Enrollment limited to 6
Advanced registration required. Contact Rachel to register.

Location: Erector Square, New Haven


Free Introductory Class

Thursday July 9, 6:15-7:30pm

Location: Erector Square, New Haven
Space is limited. Please contact Rachel to reserve a spot.

A new study recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has shown the Alexander Technique to be more effective in treating back pain than some conventional or alternative therapies, and with longer lasting results. Students of the Technique report greatly reduced pain and often become pain-free. Doctors familiar with Alexander will often recommend patients try lessons in the Technique first before going on to other more invasive treatments-as discussed in the latest piece about the Alexander Technique in the New York Times (June 1, 2009). (See previous blog post for a direct link to this article)

F.M. Alexander discovered this work over 100 years ago as a way to avoid surgery for chronic voice problems. His self-observations led him to understand that his habits of holding tension throughout his body was contributing to his vocal loss. He was literaly cutting off his vocal chords by tightening his neck.

Alexander Technique can be beneficial in many ways including:
  • relief from chronic pain and stiffness
  • stress management
  • enhanced respiratory function
  • improved balance and coordination
  • injury prevention
  • improved ability in athletic activities
Join Rachel for a free introduction to the Alexander Technique. In a friendly group class environment we'll explore the work with hands-on demonstrations, group activities, and discussion.


Read about Alexander in Dance Magazine

Read a recent article about Alexander Technique for dancers in the May issue of Dance Magazine:

Read the full article here


Beautiful head-neck-back relationship

Michael Phelps (on left) going 'forward and up' to win this race i.e. notice that his head is leading, his whole spine following. (Thanks Jessica Wolf for discovering this pix).


2008 BMJ Published study about effectiveness of AT in treating back pain

In 2008 the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a study that showed the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique in treating back pain. It showed it to be more effective than all other methods of treatment included in the study such as traditional medical treatment, prescribed exercise regimens, and massage. The combination of exercise and Alexander lessons also proved effective.

Here are links to the full study and some recent articles about the study in major US and British Publications:

Click here for the complete BMJ Study

From April's O, The Oprah Magazine

Boston Globe, November 2008

From the Times Online, UK

From BBC News