Jonathan Leathwood teaching the lunge to a student in an Alexander Technique lesson

The Alexander Technique

Welcome to the website for Jonathan Leathwood, an AmSAT-certified teacher of the Alexander Technique based in Denver, Colorado.

What is the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique is a method for gaining poise in all our activities. Through a series of lessons, you will learn how to recognize harmful patterns of movement and thought and how to undo them.

The Alexander Technique teaches a kind of master skill: the coordination you gain is transferable to any activity, new or old. In this new context, such concepts as posture, relaxation, concentration, connection, holism, and mindfulness gain fresh meaning.

The American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey described the Technique as “thinking in activity.” We have all been told to think before we act, and the Technique gives us a means for doing so; but it also teaches us how to sustain our thinking while we act—to make a constructive intervention in full flight.

Would you like to work on any of the following?

  • relieving pain and tension—notably back pain
  • posture, movement, and presentation
  • voice and breathing
  • a specialized skill or craft that requires superb coordination: music, fine arts, drama, sport, and so on
  • dealing with a sedentary lifestyle
  • psychological stress
  • inner growth
  • mindfulness

If so, the Alexander Technique might be for you. The list of applications is practically endless. I would be glad to talk with you about how the Alexander Technique might help you with your individual goals [contact].

How do I learn it?

The most effective way to learn the Alexander Technique is to take private lessons from an internationally certified teacher.

In a lesson, I will use my training as an Alexander teacher to guide your movements with my hands, using gentle and non-invasive touch to help you move with less tension and effort. At the same time, I will use words to help guide your thoughts, instructing you in the fundamental principles—mental and physical—that underly easy movement.

Is it medicine?

The Alexander Technique is an educational process whose domain is not treatments but lessons. We will learn how to make practical changes that will allow you to move more easily, and you will make the underlying principles your own. [More…]

Still, the Alexander Technique has therapeutic value. It is a premise of the Technique that use affects functioning. If we constantly misuse a tool, it becomes damaged: when a part of the body does work that could be more easily done by another part, eventually we pay a price both physically and mentally. When we recoordinate ourselves, a remarkable process can begin, not just of healing but of growth.

The Alexander Technique has attracted much interest in the medical world. A good compendium of peer-reviewed studies to date is here on the website of the American Society for the Alexander Technique. Two recent highlights:

Back pain In 2008, the British Medical Journal published a robust study of how the Alexander Technique can relieve back pain: BMJ 2008. The following video combines discussion of the BMJ study with an introduction to the technique:

Parkinson’s disease The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released their 2017 guidelines, recommending Alexander technique to those with Parkinson’s as a non-pharmacological management intervention for motor symptoms (see §1.74 in the link above).

Why the name?

The Technique is named after its founder, F.M. Alexander (1869–1955), an actor who developed vocal problems and eventually overcame them by developing a radically holistic approach. Over about fifty years of teaching experience, Alexander transformed his approach into a subtle and sophisticated teaching method.