“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
What is the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique helps people feel and function better. It is used for chronic pain relief, stress reduction, and for improved performance in a wide variety of activities. Experientially, people commonly report they feel more alert, energetic, quiet, and grounded after an Alexander lesson.
The Technique uses touch and verbal instruction to reorganize patterns of chronic tension that have become a fixed part of how we support ourselves in moving, breathing, and being in the world. It is neither a set of exercises nor a series of relaxation treatments. Rather, it is the repeated discovery of a specific dynamic vitality which gradually results in improved functioning of postural support, breathing, and movement.
Practically, The Alexander Technique encourages a redistribution of muscle tone. By consciously organizing the primary coordination of the head, neck, back, and limbs, the Technique offers overused surface muscles a needed break, while indirectly coaxing deeper layers of musculature into more activity.
A typical Alexander lesson usually involves chair work - a rich study of breathing, posture, and movement.
Clay Schaub is an Alexander Technique Teacher and jazz bassist working in Chicago & Milwaukee. He trained under the direction of John Nicholls and Nanette Walsh at ATNYC in Manhattan, completing a 3-year 1600 hour AmSAT Certification Program in June of 2012. He has worked as an assistant trainer of Alexander teachers for more than 8 years, on several different courses - ATNYC, ATMKE, and ATTiC. Clay first came to the technique in 2002, after years of struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome and other performance related injuries. He works frequently with musicians, actors, dancers, and people with chronic pain.
Who can it help?
People in Chronic Pain: Bad Backs, Occupational Overuse Injuries, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, TMJ, Breathing Difficulties, Depression, Anxiety, etc. (See below for a British Medical Journal study on the technique & Back Pain, and the technique at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis)
Performers: Musicians, Dancers, and Actors have long used the Technique to help them find more grace, freedom, and control in their art. The Technique is ensconced in such institutions as The Juilliard School, The New School, New York University, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, San Francisco Conservatory, & New England Conservatory, among others.
Stress Management: The Technique can be a powerful tool to cope with the daily demands of modern life. Many people find that after a series of lessons, they are a bit more capable of choosing how they behave under taxing situations, and perhaps more importantly, of recovering more effectively from the inevitable strains of daily life.
Mind-Body Disciplines: The Alexander Technique can cultivate an alert stillness and an awareness reminiscent of such practices as Zen Meditation, Centering Prayer, & Tai Chi Chuan. Bringing the Technique to these unique and distinct traditions offers the possibility of some surprisingly rich and rewarding parallels.
Weekly Drop-In Class
Alexander Technique At The Delaware House
Every Thursday 6:00-7:00pm
Resumes January 6th, 2022
Offering low cost Alexander work to the Milwaukee community, this weekly drop-in class is an excellent introduction to the Alexander Technique. Primarily a hands-on experiential class, participants can expect 15min of chair work, 15 min of table work, a guided lie-down, and a brief discussion. Clay is usually joined for this class by several other teachers from the Milwaukee Alexander Technique community. It's fun!
Open to everyone - of particular interest to performers, musicians, dancers, singers, actors, and people in chronic pain.
Vaccine Status Requested
"A PERSON HELD TO A FIXED POSITION CANNOT GROW." -F.M. Alexander
The Delaware House (upstairs)
2499 S Delaware Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Thursdays from 6 to 7pm
FREE / $15 suggested
To pre-register, or for more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
To schedule private lessons with Clay Schaub, please email or call:
Clay teaches in Bayview, off of the Port of Milwaukee exit on I-794, 7 minutes drive from downtown Milwaukee, or three blocks from the 15 and 52 bus lines running along S Kinnickkinnick Avenue.
Typically, students take weekly 45-minute lessons. Should you be interested in more frequent lessons, a half hour lesson twice a week also works very very well.
Should the fee become a financial hardship, please do not hesitate to let me know, as I do offer a sliding scale for those with real interest and need.
INTRODUCTORY VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS
I recently gave two introductory Alexander Technique Workshops for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. The first was part of an Advanced Chamber Music Institute intensive; the second was part of the Conservatory's annual Jazz Fest. Both workshops approached the topic: 'The Alexander Technique - Body Awareness for Injury Prevention and Performance.'
Due to the pandemic, the virtual nature of these events forced me to get creative about how to present the Technique - completely without the hands-on component that is so central to our work. I offer the workshop materials here at the participant's request. Thank you for your interest!
Here you can Download Workshop Materials:
Above: BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL STUDY - Back Pain and The Alexander Technique. Participants received a series of 24 Lessons from STAT Certified Teachers in England in 2008.
Above: The Alexander Technique in Education
Introductory video courtesy of STAT & the FM Alexander Trust, via Judith Kleinman, AT instructor at The Royal College of Music.
F.M. Alexander working with a young pupil in "monkey" with hands monitoring the freedom of the low ribs.
"For Alexander it was more a matter of consciousness and thinking and rationality. First of all, he saw it as a means of self-help, of the need to recognize what is wrong, and then the importance of refraining from doing the wrong thing. To this end, the study of the proper use of the 'body' was essential; but to know how the mechanisms work, that 'the head must go forward-and-up,' that 'the back must lengthen-and-widen' was useless without a knowledge of how to think, of how to use the brain, how to consciously inhibit or withold consent and direct; that is, to employ conscious volition to ensure the correct working of the whole."
-Walter Carrington from the Foreward to 'Man's Supreme Inheritance'
Alexander Technique Saddle Work:
Here is a Transcription of Walter Carrington from the Film 'The Alexander Technique Today,' working with a student seated on an English saddle on a sawhorse/trestle.
(Begins at 1 hr, 14min, 45sec)
Walter: First of all, you see, you’re sitting right back on the saddle at the moment. Now, I want to get you sitting in the saddle so that your sit bones are in the deepest part of the saddle. And what we’re going to do is this- I’m coming around in front of you, and I’m taking your knees, and I’m lifting them up, and now you can take hold of the saddle with your hands and lift yourself right forward. That’s it. And even a little bit further forward, so that you might think that that was too far forward, but we’ll be alright because I just let your legs go- so. And I just then come and I just take your hips, and I just bring you a tiny little bit further back on your seat bones and I think you’re alright there aren’t you- that’s quite comfortable.
Now, having got you into the deepest part of the saddle, we’re now ready to start work. And the first thing I do is I come around and I take one leg, and I take the hamstrings under the knees, with my fingers, and I lengthen the hamstrings. And you let me lengthen the hamstrings, you let the leg free like that. Now the hamstrings, of course, are attached to the seat bones, so that as I draw her knee towards me, I’m encouraging this right seat bone to come a little further forward in the saddle- a little bit more underneath her. And there we’ve got excellent lengthening there, and the leg is free. I put my hand underneath, like so, I turn the leg from the hip joint, and it goes down quite elegantly there beside the saddle. I now come and I do exactly the same thing as the other leg, and again its the hamstrings- that’s it. From the seat bone, drawing the seat bone underneath, lengthening the thigh. And so, and so, and continuing to keep the length, I turn the thigh and the leg goes so. Now gravity will take care of the legs now, we’re not interested in the legs.
Now, the next thing then, that I’ve got to do quite simply is to come around to the back. I now come and I put my hands on the crest of the pelvis, and I put my thumbs actually on the sacrum, and what I’m going to do, Lou, now, is I’m going to press. There, and I’m using quite a bit of weight and you’re letting your legs go freely, you’re letting your seat go. And I’m really pressing her seat bones down into the saddle. Right. And now, Lou, all you’ve got to do now is you’re going to think of letting your head go forward and up, and you’re just going to come back from the hip joints to my back hand- there you are. There we go. There you are. You see as you come back- there that’s it- we get more lengthening there. You see just allow me to move you there now- there you are. That is now very free. We’ve got her organized from her seat bones. We’ve got the whole of her torso lengthening and widening, her head’s going forward and up, and that’s very nice. And the legs, you see, the legs don’t come into it.
Now, the origin of this was we had a little girl years ago who got spina bifida, and consequently she couldn’t stand or use her legs. And, in order to work with her we found that if we could sit her on a toy donkey she could sit rather like this, and then we could work on her in a similar sort of way.
Interviewer: Was this in the time of Alexander?
Walter: This was after the little girl had come to Alexander, but we had started to work on her in this way after Alexander died. And as she grew, we found that it was necessary to get something larger, so we had a wooden trestle made to continue to work in the same way. And then somebody suggested that if we were going to use the trestle, why not use a saddle, because saddles are made for that purpose. So that’s how we came to get the saddle, because of course, the saddle does give the proper support to the seat bones, and then you can get just what I’ve demonstrated, and we find now-a-days, that this is a very good thing for people who’ve got leg problems. We can get more lengthening of the leg, more freedom of the hip joints, freedom of the knees, freedom of
the ankles, in this way than we can even working on them lying down. It’s very very good from that point of view. And, of course, for people who are riders, or people who want to ride, if you can do some of this work with them before they get on a horse, you’ve got 50% of the problem solved before you begin. So, we have found this extremely valuable.
An Alexander Technique sawhorse, or trestle, is a wonderful tool to help free the legs and breathing. In 2017, I started building Alexander Technique sawhorses at the request of a few of my students who were seriously interested in Natural Horsemanship and Classical Dressage. I was unable to find any for purchase on the internet, so it was out to the garage...
Interested In Purchasing a Sawhorse?
Sawhorse with Saddle Pad $230
Available in Several Designs, Colors, and Heights
Alexander Technique Resources