Alexander Technique Centre Ireland Newsletter, Autumn 2016

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Autumn leaves against blue sky

Welcome to the Autumn 2016 edition of the newsletter. We hope you enjoy it! A special welcome if you are new to the Alexander Technique mailing list. We will not fill up your inbox as you will be only sent an e-newsletter about 3-4 times a year.

We must learn to awaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful, but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest art.
  — Henry David Thoreau

Featured in this issue:

Semi Supine Exercise

Person lying down in semi supine position (Alexander Technique)

This exercise is often considered the hallmark of the Alexander Technique. It is simply to lie down on your back with some books underneath your head, your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your hands resting gently on either side of your navel (see the photograph above). The number of books beneath the head will vary from person to person and in some cases from day to day. The best way to find out the right amount is simply to ask your teacher when you start having Alexander lessons. As a rough guide, follow these instructions:

  • Stand against a flat surface such as a wall.
  • Just stand in your normal way (do not try to stand up straight) with your buttock and shoulder blades lightly touching the wall.
  • Get a friend or relative to measure the distance between the door and the back of your head.
  • To this measurement add 2.5cm (1 inch), and this should be roughly the height of books you need.

Remember it is better to have too many books beneath your head than too few, but make sure there is no restriction whatsoever to your breathing or swallowing. It is also better to use paperback books rather than hardback and if the books still feel too hard then place a towel or some thin foam on top of the books.

The reason you have the books underneath the head is to give it support and to help combat the habit of pulling the head back. It should be noted, however, that it is still possible to pull your head back on to the books when you are simply lying there.

The soles of your feet should have as much contact with the ground as possible, with the knees pointing to the ceiling. The feet should be as near to your pelvis as is comfortably possible. The legs may well want to fall in towards each other, or out away from each other. If this is so, follow one of these instructions:

  • If the legs fall inwards then move the feet closer together.
  • If the legs fall outwards then move the feet further away from each other.

This will help to reduce muscle tension in the legs to the absolute minimum.

The back should be in as much contact with the ground as possible, but be sure not to do anything in order to flatten it. The reason the knees are raised is to enable the lower back to release on to the floor in comfort.

As most of us have rounded shoulders, the hands rest on the abdomen so that the shoulders can release backwards.

Try and give yourself 15 - 20 minutes a day to lie in this position. At first lie for five minutes only and then add on another minute each day, until you have built up to 20 minutes. Some of my pupils say they do not have enough time to do this every day. When I tell them years this: if you don't have 20 minutes in a day just do the lying down for 10; and if you don't have 10 minutes in and day then just do it for five; and if you don't have five minutes in a day than that's why you have all the tension problems that you have.

While you are on the floor give yourself the following directions:

  • Allow the neck to be free.
  • Think of the head going forward (think of your nose dropping towards your feet) and away from the spine.
  • Allow the back to lengthen and widen onto the ground.
  • Think of the shoulders widening away from one another.
  • Think of the knees pointing up to the ceiling.

As you are lying there try also to be aware of any specific tension you may be holding and just being aware of it can help to release it.

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Special Offer: Two CDs for the price of one

Alexander Technique CD How to Breathe CD

We are giving away an Alexander CD completely free (normally €17) to all those ordering any CD. The first is a talk-through for the semi-supine exercise featured earlier in this newsletter, and the second is a series of exercises that help you to improve your breathing.

They are both great accompaniment to any of the Alexander Technique books, each lasts for 40 minutes and talks you through a simple procedure that helps you let go of unwanted muscle tension and improve breathing. They will both help you to improve your breathing and posture, which in turn can prevent or relieve backache, neck-ache, headaches and stress. They are designed to be used over and over again, benefiting you each time.

To redeem this offer please go to, order either CD, then forward your Paypal order confirmation to, quoting the free CD offer.

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The 2nd International Alexander Teacher's Convention, Dublin 2017

Participants at the International Alexander Technique Convention in Dublin, 2013

This week is primarily designed for Alexander Teachers and 3rd year trainees.

Come and join us at the 2nd International Alexander Technique Convention in Dublin in April 2017!

Bookings have started to come in for the convention which takes place in Dublin in April 2017. The Convention is designed to deepen your understanding and advance your teaching and communication skills to empower you in taking Alexander's principles forward into the future without losing the essence of the Work. The structure of this week-long convention includes daily workshops, open-minded discussions, work exchanges and networking opportunities which will foster a sense of community, sharing, laughter and integration of learning.

Presenters include Giora Pinkas, Anthony Kingsley, Trisha Hemingway, Wolfgang Weiser, Glen Park, Niall Kelly, Glenna Batson, Tommy Thompson, Jeando Masoero, Barbro Olsson and Francien Schoonens.

With Early bird prices in place until 1st November 2016, you can save €100 on the normal price. Places are limited to 100. For more information please visit

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Four day workshop with Yehuda Kuperman (Israel), September 20th - 23rd 2016

Yehuda Kuperman, Alexander Technique Teacher

Yehuda graduated in May 1967, at 16 Ashley Place with Patrick Macdonald. It took years of sharing with his students to understand that the physical senses of joy he felt from his touch, was the taste of spirit. Spirit, which exists in pure and honored togetherness. The combination of two distinct areas which Yehuda studied as a young man, religion and later on physical education is probably what motivated him to look for the connection between body and spirit. The experience he had in his first lessons, touched the suppressed aspects of his hidden wishes. In this workshop he will share his experience of the last 50 years teaching the technique.

Course Details

Dates: Tuesday 20th – Friday 23rd September 2016
Times: Tuesday 2.30 pm – Friday 12 noon
Venue: The Alexander Training College, Moycullen, Co. Galway
Cost: €195 for four days or €65 for one day
Suitable for: Anyone with previous Alexander Technique experience.
To Book: Please contact Richard Brennan on 091 555800 or email

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Four day workshop with Anthony Kingsley (UK), November 1st - 4th 2016

Anthony Kingsley, Alexander Technique Teacher

After training with Shmuel Nelkin in Israel, Anthony was invited to teach at the Barlow's Alexander Institute in 1987.

He has been training Alexander teachers since 1989 and in 2004, he opened the Alexander Teacher Training School in central London.

Anthony is also a qualified psychotherapist and has a powerful mind-body approach to the Alexander Technique. He is particularly passionate about the potential of the work for emotional healing.

Anthony's other lifetime interests include universal philosophy and Manchester United but not necessarily in that order.

He has been privileged to have learned from Patrick Macdonald, Bill and Marjory Barlow, Miss Goldie and Walter Carrington.

His main Teachers today are his students and pupils and of course his 2 children, Harry (4) and Zac (2) who keep his feet firmly on the ground, and ensure he doesn't take himself too seriously!

During his workshop he will share some of his ideas about giving directions and how we can give directions in a way that supports a natural and spontaneous way of being? He will explain how to give directions without trying and what part of the self gives directions.

He will also share his relational approach to teaching and how a teacher can evoke and promote helpful responses from the pupil and how can to avoid activating the fear reflex?

Course Details

Dates: Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th November 2016
Times: Tuesday 2.30 pm – Friday 12 noon
Venue: The Alexander Training College, Moycullen, Co. Galway
Cost: €195 for four days or €65 for one day
Suitable for: Anyone with previous Alexander Technique experience.
To Book: Please contact Richard Brennan on 091 555800 or email

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Workshops in May 2017 with Malcolm Balk (Canada): The Alexander Technique and Running

Malcolm Balk, Alexander Technique and Running

After a very successful visit to the Centre in August Malcolm will be returning to do a number of running workshops in May 2017.

Malcolm Balk qualified with Patrick Macdonald in 1984. In addition to maintaining a private practice in Montreal, he also teaches at Plattsburgh State University in New York. Originally attracted to the Technique because of major tension issues while playing the cello, he is also a Level 4 running coach and still competes in his veteran category (2012 Canadian Age Group winner: half marathon). In 1991 he developed The Art of Running workshop which has been enjoyed by runners all over the world. Malcolm's book, Master the Art of Running with the Alexander Technique has sold over 20,000 copies.

We all think we know how to run. After all, it's as natural as putting one foot in front of the other. To often, though, an activity which should be pleasurable and fulfilling instead leads to frustration and injury. Learn how to achieve and maintain fitness without injury and how to overcome self-imposed limitations.

Course Details

Dates: May 2017 - exact dates to be confirmed)
Suitable for: This workshop is open to all and does not demand a high level of fitness.
Venue: The Alexander Training College, Moycullen, Co. Galway
To Book: Please contact Michaela Wohlgemuth on 087 7556558 or for further details and to express your interest in this workshop.

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Training Course News

Yan van Haaren, new graduate from the Alexander Technique Centre in Galway, Ireland, Summer 2016

New Teacher Graduates from the training course

Wholehearted congratulations to Jan van Haaren who graduated on the 22nd June. Jan is the 39th person to graduate from the course and will be doing a post-graduate year at the college.

It has been wonderful to have Jan's thoughtful and insightful presence at the training course over the last three years, and we look forward to him continuing here at the college.


Ever thought of becoming an Alexander teacher? To find out more about this very rewarding career please go to

There are two places available on the Alexander Technique Training Course, starting in September 2016, and another two places coming up in January 2017. You can apply for either term anytime.

Visiting the Training Course

Informal group at Alexander Technique Training Centre, Galway, Ireland

Although the Training Course is primarily for those who wish to train to become Alexander Technique teachers, we do welcome those who wish to visit for a day, a week or even a whole term, by arrangement, to improve their own understanding of the Technique. It is an ideal environment for those who enjoy learning the technique in a group. You will receive individual sessions as well as join in group sessions on various subjects including standing, walking, sitting and breathing.

Performance Week at the Training College in Galway, October 18th - 21st 2016 (free)

Musicians and Alexander Technique practioners, Ireland

During performance week actors, singers, musicians or those involved in public speaking may come free of charge to explore how the technique can improve performance. Any performers are welcome to apply.

Performance weeks will replace the former 'open weeks', but anyone thinking of training to be a teacher, or interested in learning more about the Alexander Technique in a group situation, is welcome to visit most weeks - but please book first. The free visit offer is open to all those who have already had some lessons, or who have been to an introductory workshop, and have not visited the training course previously.

It is open to all those who have already had some lessons or who have been to an introductory workshop.

There are a limited number of places so early booking is recommended. Please see for more information about the training. To book a place please call 091 555800 or email

Three month Postgraduate Diploma Course starting in September 2016 in Galway

Anyone who has completed a 3 year Alexander Technique teacher training course is welcome to apply. The course will include one hands-on lesson each day for yourself; working with people who have had little or no experience of the technique; how to start and sustain a successful practice teaching the Alexander Technique; and many other related topics such as neuroscience and how to read MRI reports.

Cost: €995

Please contact Richard for full details 091 555800 or email

Term Dates 2016- 2017

Autumn Term 2016

Start and end of term: Tuesday 13th September – Thursday 1st December
Mid-term break: 24th - 31st October

Visiting teachers: Yehuda Kuperman (Israel) and Anthony Kingsley (UK)

Spring Term 2017

Start and end of term: Tuesday 10th January – Thursday 23rd March
Mid-term break: 13th - 17th February

Visiting teachers: Jule Gartzke (Germany) and Francien Schoonens (Holland)

Summer Term 2017

Start and end of term: Tuesday 25th April – Thursday 29th June
Mid-term break: 4th - 10th June

Visiting teachers: Vivien Mackie (Scotland) and Alexander Farkas (USA)

Course hours: Tues 2.30–6.30pm, Weds 9.30am–4pm, Thurs 9.30am–1.30pm, Fri 9–12 noon

For full details please visit:

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Short Courses with Richard Brennan

Richard Brennan, director of Alexander Technique Centre, Galway, Ireland

Forthcoming Introductory and Intermediate short courses led by Richard Brennan are given below.

For booking information and further details about the short courses below, please visit our short courses page. Please note that you are also welcome to visit the college for intermediate training.

National University of Ireland (Adult Education), Galway
8th + 15th October 2016
Change Your Posture, Change Your Life: Two day introductory workshop

Esker Retreat Centre, Athenry, Co Galway
21st - 23rd October 2016
Back In Balance: Residential Weekend Workshop
€165 (€90 non-residential)

Emmaus Centre, Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin
5th - 6th November 2016
Back In Balance: Residential Weekend Workshop
€190 (non residential €140)

Emmaus Centre, Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin
11th - 12th February 2017
Change Your Posture, Change Your Life: Residential Weekend Workshop

Emmaus Centre, Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin
22nd - 26th May 2017
Alexander Technique Immersion: Residential Five Day Course

Cortijo Romero, Orgiva, Granada, Spain
3rd - 10th June 2017
Change Your Posture, Change Your Life:
Residential week-long workshop in a beautiful holiday centre in southern Spain
£600 (discount price before 3rd December 2016)

Emmaus Centre, Lissenhall, Swords, Co Dublin
7th - 8th October 2017
Back In Balance: Residential Weekend Workshop
€190 (non residential €140)

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