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Although it can be helpful at first to learn the principles and philosophy of the Alexander Technique in groups sessions or by reading books, this does not take the place of individual lessons, where a deeper understanding of the Alexander Technique can be achieved. Each one of us is unique and therefore we also have unique habits to recognise and let go of.
The length of time a lesson will last varies from teacher to teacher, but the average is between 30 and 45 minutes - this is because most students can only maintain the level of attention required for the changes to take place for this amount of time. The number of lessons needed can vary dramatically from person to person, depending on how ingrained your physical or emotional habits are, as well as on what you are hoping to achieve from the lessons.
A basic course will consist of about ten lessons, but people may have up to thirty lessons to learn the subject thoroughly. For the first two or three weeks it can be advantageous to have two lessons a week, but later on when you are more familiar with the principles of the Technique you will be able to apply them on your own, and you may only need a lesson once every two to three weeks.
What takes place during an Alexander lesson will vary depending on your own requirements and the way your teacher chooses to put across the information. If the teacher has not been personally recommended by a friend, it is worth having one lesson from two or three different teachers to see which will suit you best. Various organisations will supply a list of qualified teachers and their details can be found in the Finding a Teacher section.
Your first lesson may be slightly longer than subsequent lessons, and you will often be asked about any medical problems and your general state of health. Your teacher may also want to know why you have come for lessons and what your expectations are. You do not have to have anything wrong with you to benefit from the Technique, but if you do it would be helpful at this point to mention any accident or trauma that you feel may have contributed to any pain or condition from which you may be suffering. Some teaches also take a few minutes to discuss the principles and history behind the Technique. You will not need to remove any clothes apart from perhaps your shoes.
The technique is a 'hands-on' education and your teacher will gently move your limbs or head while asking you not to help. As they do this they will be checking your body for excessive or inappropriate muscle tension. This may be done while you are sitting, standing or lying on a treatment table. At the end of your first session your teacher will advise you as to how many lessons you are likely to need and how often you need to come.
The hardest aspect of an Alexander lesson to communicate in words is the feeling that people have: the experience of the Alexander Technique can never be described in a book or conveyed using speech. It is a wonderful feeling of lightness and ease that allows all parts of the body to work in unison with each other. It gives many people a sense of peace and oneness that they had forgotten was possible. Some people describe the feeling as 'walking on air', or 'having all the joints well oiled'; it is simply the feeling of letting your body work as nature intended without the interference that is practically universal in Western society today. Although the experience can differ for each individual, many people describe it as a weightless sensation, or as though all their worries have been suddenly lifted off their shoulders. One of my pupils poetically described it as 'the champagne feeling'. Following your first lesson this feeling may only last for a short time after the lesson finishes, but with subsequent lessons this wonderful feeling will last for longer and longer periods.