Where and when?
Portobello Alexander Technique is based in Joppa, Edinburgh, EH15 2HB, so it is convenient for access from Musselburgh and East Lothian, as well as from the rest of Edinburgh.
There is a frequent bus service (every 10 minutes from the city centre and from the East Coast). There are also off-road bike routes from South-East Edinburgh and Leith. If you are coming by car, there is ample, unrestricted on-street parking.
Appointments are available Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 7.30pm (with the exception of Thursday & Friday mornings during term time for Edinburgh Alexander Training School).
Accessibility: The teaching room and toilet are both ground floor level but the garden path contains 3 steps. If accessibility may be an issue for you, do get in touch to discuss. I can, for example, give lessons at Portobello Natural Health which has a stair lift.
Please contact me to book an appointment.
What happens in a lesson?
A typical session will explore common activities like how we sit, stand or walk. I will work with you one-to-one, using gentle, light touch and simple explanations to guide you through movement. I will also work with you while you are lying down. Because we will be engaging in everyday activities, your usual clothes will be the best thing to wear. You may just want to remove your shoes.
In a lesson you will be actively engaged in a process of learning, which people generally find enjoyable and relaxing. Through the hands-on work and the Alexander thinking, people begin to let go of excess muscle tension and find better postural support, leading to a sense of well-being. What is learnt in the session can be applied to any activity — from sitting at a computer with less tension, to exercising or gardening without strain, or to responding more calmly to your work environment and other stressful situations.
How many lessons will I need?
Benefits are cumulative and the number of lessons depends to a large extent on what you want to achieve – which will be different for everyone. After 5-6 lessons you will have a good idea of what the Alexander Technique is all about and how it can help you. You will be beginning to put it into practice in daily life and are likely to start to notice some benefits. For many people, particularly those with a long-standing issue, 10-30 lessons may well be needed for beneficial changes to continue to occur and become integrated. We know from a major clinical back pain trial (in which people attended 6 or 24 Alexander lessons) that the best results were found with 24 lessons; people who had taken 6 lessons did, however, experience significant benefit. A second major clinical trial of people with chronic neck pain offered 20 lessons and demonstrated significant long-term benefit in pain and associated disability.
Since the Alexander Technique cannot be adequately described in words but is something that needs to be experienced, having an introductory lesson is the best way of finding out if it is for you.
What is the best frequency of lessons?
If you decide to continue after your introductory lesson, you may wonder about the optimum frequency of lessons. In the beginning it takes time to assimilate the work, so to get you off to a good start it is ideal if you are able to come about twice a week for the first few weeks. However, many people will only be able to fit one lesson a week into their schedule. You can be reassured that you are still likely to progress well at this frequency if you are keen to start applying the Technique to your life in between lessons, for example in practising the daily ‘active rest’ procedure that I recommend for everyone.
Once a week remains a good frequency after your first few lessons and the lessons can gradually then be spread out further. Some people then continue with a monthly or every 2-3 months lesson, or just come back for a refresher as and when they feel they need it. Once you’ve had some lessons you are likely to know what frequency and total number of lessons is right for you.
In the back pain trial the lessons were spread out as two lessons per week for the first 6 weeks, then one lesson per week for 6 weeks, then one per fortnight for 8 weeks, and then one refresher lesson at 7 months and finally at 9 months (total of 24 lessons).
What does it cost?
- 60-minute one-to-one lesson: £50
- 30-minute one-to-one lesson: £35
I offer two options for lesson length to allow you to choose what suits you best – and this may vary, so you can always choose which you prefer each time you book.
Where it’s possible for you, I generally recommend the 60-minute lesson as it can be better tailored to your own experiences and interests, and allows time to explore and develop points that come up during the session. The 30-minute lesson may be more appropriate when time and/or finances are an issue, or perhaps, if you’re planning on a large number of lessons over a period of time. Whichever option you choose, please allow an extra 15 minutes for the first, introductory lesson (same cost). Lessons can be booked session-by-session or, if you prefer, in blocks of six (10% discount when paid in advance).
Since some people prefer to come with a partner or friend, I am happy to offer a 75-minute lesson for two people (£62).
Gift vouchers are also available. Please contact me for further details.
Payment options are cash, cheque or bank transfer.
If you hold private health insurance, it may be worth enquiring whether your policy will cover Alexander Technique lessons. Some companies will reimburse the cost of a course of lessons when taken to address certain health problems (in these cases, sometimes the recommendation of a consultant or other healthcare professional is required).
What should I consider before starting lessons?
Alexander Technique lessons can benefit people of all ages and any level of physical fitness or health.
The Alexander Technique is not a quick fix but if you want to take responsibility for your health and wellbeing, and are open to new ways of thinking, lessons can empower you by giving you the tools to make the changes that you want.
In a lesson you will be practising everyday activities no different to those in your daily life and I will be using both discussion and gentle, light touch (not manipulation) to enable you to discover how to apply the Alexander thinking and skills in your daily life. Generally after an Alexander lesson people have a sense of wellbeing, feeling more relaxed and in control of life. It is very unlikely that you will experience any untoward effects – occasionally, people can experience tiredness, aches similar to those following exercise or temporary light-headedness. Please tell me if any of these occur, or if you experience any discomfort during or after a lesson. Also, do let me know if you have any pain or conditions that may affect movement, if you are pregnant, or have low blood pressure.
Please note that Alexander Technique teachers do not give medical diagnoses. If you have any health concerns it is important that you discuss these with your GP.
What if I need to cancel a lesson?
In the event that you need to cancel a lesson, I ask that you give at least 24 hours’ notice to avoid liability for payment for the cancelled session.
All personal information is kept strictly confidential in line with General Data Protection Regulations and the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council’s (CNHC) Code of Practice. I keep brief notes of lessons which you are free to see at any time. Your records will be kept for a period of 8 years from your last visit.
How can I find a teacher who suits me?
To ensure you get the most out of your lessons it is important that you feel comfortable with your teacher and like their style of teaching, as we are all very different. Since you are reading my website, I hope that I might be on your list of teachers to consider but it’s probably a good idea to consider several – find out which teachers are within travelling distance of you and make your choice after calling them up, looking at their websites, or going to one of their group introductory classes. Don’t be afraid to try out different teachers to find out who suits you best and bear in mind that, once you’ve got the basics, you may gain further insights through some lessons with other teachers.