Upcoming Classes for 2011

I am offering a number of group classes in the new year. If you're new to the Technique and want more information before you jump in start with a free introductory workshop, new and returning students here's an opportunity to immerse yourself in a 5-class 5-week course, or if you're already a student of the Technique try one of the winter refresher workshops.
Michael Phelps, left, lengthens his spine, lets his neck be free and head release...to win this race! 
(Notice the pulling back of the head of his competitor).

Free Introductory Class
This class is now full. Contact me to be put on the waiting list.
Thursday January 27th, from 6-7:15pm
Seating is limited. Advanced registration required.

This class will introduce the Technique with hands-on demonstrations, discussion, observation, and group activities. A great introduction to Alexander and a wonderful way to get more information on how Alexander Technique might be of benefit to you.  

5-Week Group Class
This class is now full. Interested in taking this class next time it's offered? Sign up for the mailing list or contact me for more information.
Thursday evenings February 3 - March 3, from 6-7:15pm
$195 ( includes one 45 minute private lesson)
Class size is limited to 6. Advanced registration required.
New and returning students are welcome.

A wonderful learning environment for new students and a great opportunity for returning students to deepen their understanding. In addition to group activities and discussion, the small group format allows for hands-on individualized attention. Students also benefit from the chance to observe others in the process of change. Each week we'll work with a different aspect of the Technique and its application to a diverse range of activities. 

Special Workshop: Enjoying Outdoor Activities With Ease
From Walking, Running and Hiking to Bird Watching

Saturday April 2nd from 2:30-4:30pm
Workshop fee: $40
Advanced registration required.

A Winter Refresher Workshop for students with previous experience only. This offers a great opportunity for private students to experience a group class setting and observe fellow students in the process of change. For group class alumni it's a chance to refresh awareness and continue to explore the Technique.

In preparation for Spring, this class will deal specifically with outdoor activities like walking, running, hiking (we'll use stairs), biking, and observing nature (yes, we can bring excess tension even to the simple act of looking). We'll look at the mechanics of these activities, notice how we often interfere with easy forward motion and learn strategies for moving with greater ease. Students will have the opportunity to work on a related activity of choice. Bring your walking/running shoes.

For further information and to register: rachelbernsen@gmail.com
or call 917.531.4484
All classes will take place at Erector Square
315 Peck St. New Haven, CT. Directions


Sitting Longer, More Easefully and Without Pain

When my students arrive for their lessons each week I often ask them to share with me how they are integrating the Alexander Technique into their everyday lives. This question acts as a gentle reminder to keep alive what they've learned between lessons. My students share questions, observations and new experiences of being in their body.

Not infrequently students notice positive changes in their experience of sitting. Many of those I teach are professionals or academics who spend much of their day sitting in an office, traveling, sitting in conferences, and doing research on their computers so this change is very very important for them.

After a long period of traveling for work, a student recently noticed that sitting was now easier and that she could do it for much longer periods without discomfort. She felt she had gained the tools to deal with fatigue when sitting and now slumping felt like work! Instead of going into her slumping habit when tired she was able to access a more balanced way to sit that put less stress on her system and kept her back from aching.

Another student reported succinctly she was now able to sit longer, with more ease and less pain.

Click Here to read a recent feature from the New York Times Opinion Pages about the dilemma of too much sitting in our lives. The first contributor, Galen Cranz, is an Alexander Teacher!

Click Here to see a video on the Alexander Technique from the Mayo Clinic. Although it doesn't address the activity of sitting directly, I'm posting this video again because it talks clearly about Alexander Technique's effectiveness in dealing with poor postural habits, ones that can get in our way of sitting comfortably!


From the students point of view

A student of mine is on a journey toward becoming pain free. She chronicles her road to this end on her blog and recently wrote a fantastic post about taking lessons with me in the Alexander Technique. She clearly and articulately describes each of her 10 lessons, detailing her experience lesson by lesson, detailing our activities, reporting on her progress and sharing observations.
Curious about what lessons are like and how AT can affect change? Here are one student's reflections.
Click here to read her post.



With Rachel Bernsen

6-Monday evenings Sept 13 – Oct 25 (no class Oct 11)
Shoreline Center for Wholistic Health
35 Boston St. Guilford, CT

$240 fee includes one 45-minute private lesson (all private lessons will take place at my teaching studio in New Haven).

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 finds Alexander Technique more effective for treating back pain than other conventional or alternative therapies.

Benefits of the Technique include
-relief from pain
-stress reduction
-increased range of motion
-improved coordination and balance, and much more.

Join Rachel in a small, friendly group class environment. We’ll explore this work with group activities, hands-on demonstrations, and discussion. Walking, reaching, sitting, and standing can be transformed when we engage our mind, creating the opportunity for change.

Advanced registration required. Class limited to 8 students

For more info and to register: rachelbernsen@gmail.com or 917.531.4484


Pix from my teaching studio wall

I have a growing collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and photocopies made from favorite books that hang on the inside of the door of my teaching studio. All are there because they inspire. Each photograph uniquely represents a quality of presence, vitality, and availability. Although suspended in time by virtue of being captured in a photograph, each subject is clearly moving in many different directions at once, going out and up into movement. It's exciting to see all those oppositions engaged. It's the dynamic quality we all know so well in our favorite athlete, dancer, infant...

Here are a few...clockwise from top: image of a baby from Michael Gelb's Body Learning; Rafael Nadal; Jim Rice(who played football in the early years)folding and expanding all at the same time.

Amazing fingers to toes connection in order to reach to catch that ball! Unknown baseball player

Image of baby from Michael Gelb's Body Learning
. Beautiful internal diagonal spiral connections from opposite feet to fingertips, top of head to heel.

Serena Williams, reaching through all her limbs and beautifully folding at her hip joints for a powerful return.

And of course Merce Cunningham. Here he has an infant like curiosity, his whole body follows his eyes. He's totally engaged.


Study finds AT highly effective for surgeons

I just received this article from a fellow teacher on the results of a small study on the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique for laparoscopic surgeons. What they found was that it markedly improved the surgeons posture, balance, coordination, endurance, and overall surgical skills.
The study was undertaken in order to find ways to deal with recurring and chronic neck, shoulder and back pain experienced by surgeons. A surgeon's work is highly demanding. In addition to requiring highly refined motor coordination skills it often involves standing and leaning in over patients for hours at a time, taking a toll on these areas of the body.


AUA 2010 - The impact of the Alexander Technique in improving posture during minimally invasive surgery - Session Highlights
Monday, 07 June 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA USA (UroToday.com) - It has long been recognized that laparoscopy presents challenging ergonomic issues for the surgeon. Previous investigators have found that neck, shoulder and back pain in the surgeon can all be associated and related directly to laparoscopic surgery. Researchers from Cincinnati, Ohio utilized the Alexander Technique (AT) as a process of psychophysical re-education of one’s body in order to improve postural balance and coordination and to evaluate the efficacy of this in improving posture during the performance of laparoscopic surgery.

They performed a prospective study on 8 subjects who served as their own controls, and underwent PreAT-Test of basic laparoscopic skill assessment, PreAT-Test of postural co-ordination, the planned AT education session and then PostAT basic laparoscopic skill assessment and postural co-ordination. All of the subjects reported a subjective improvement in their overall posture following the AT training session. There was a statistically significant difference in the PostAT Posture scores for the neck, spine, shoulder, hands and fingers in the subjects. The subjects also demonstrated improved ergonomics and improved ability to complete the skill sets with the PostAT load time test, suturing and cutting demonstrating statistically significant differences.

This AT training program resulted in significant improvement in posture, trunk endurance and surgical ergonomics and was accompanied by reduction and perceived discomfort when performing basic laparoscopic skills. This is certainly interesting information and warrants further investigation in other aspects of surgery. Perhaps the Alexander Technique of psychophysical re-education of the body will become part of surgical training.

Presented by Pramod Reddy, Trisha Reddy, Paul Noh, and Krishnanath Gaitonde the American Urological Association (AUA) Annual Meeting - May 29 - June 3, 2010 - Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA USA

Reported for UroToday by Jason Lee, MD, FRCSC, Department of Urology, University of California, Irvine, CA.


Free Introductory Class in Guilford

Please contact me if you'd like to be added to the wait list.

Thursday April 29
The Shoreline Center for Wholistic Health
35 Boston St. Guilford, CT
Class size is limited. Contact Rachel to reserve your spot.

Rachel will introduce the Alexander Technique through hands-on demonstrations, discussion, and group activities.


Interview about Alexander on: thefrisky.com

Click Here to see an interview I did about using the Alexander Technique as a tool to enhance sexual pleasure.


Working with sleeping habits

Here is a testimonial from a student who participated in one of my small group classes last Fall:

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

In one of my recent group classes we devoted some time to looking at how we sleep and what positions we sleep in. I had the students bring in their pillows and I worked with each of the students sleeping patterns individually as the rest of the group observed. We observed habits such as sleeping with tightened fists (sometimes holding on to a pillow), or wound up in a tight fetal-like position.

It's important to remember that the habits of tension we carry around with us during the day can often stay with us when we sleep. The modifications we made to their sleeping positions in class helped many of the students feel more supported, enabling them to let go of unnecessary tension and better relax into sleep.


Click here to watch a video about the Alexander Technique

This video is a great introduction to the Technique. It centers around the results of a large clinical study done in the UK. Published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2008, the study found Alexander Technique highly effective for treating back pain. It showed that participants experienced significant reduction in their level of pain or became pain free after studying the Technique.


Offering a second workshop at Fresh Yoga

The class in November filled up quickly and it was a wonderful experience to bring this work into people's yoga practice, and to teach in Fresh Yoga's wonderful new space in 9th Square...so we're doing it again!

Alexander Technique and Yoga - Focus on Shoulder Girdle and Arms
Sunday January 24th, 2010(happy new year!)
Fresh Yoga at 9th Square, 49 Orange St, New Haven, CT
Workshop is limited to 20 people

I'll introduce the principles of the Alexander Technique through its application to basic poses. In this class we’ll focus on finding freedom in the shoulder girdle and arms in weight bearing and in shoulder and chest opening asanas. Explore how the practice of yoga can be transformed when we engage our mind, creating opportunity for change.
For more information and to register go to: freshyoga.com