Tag Archives: Brighton

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove – Photo Album

In a previous post I mentioned how I used to get tongue-tied or overly enthusiastic when someone asked the question “What is the Alexander Technique?”

Of course, it’ll always be difficult to describe an activity, any activity, that has such a large sensory component. So I promised to put up some photos, with comments, so you can at least get a fly on the wall perspective of what a typical Alexander Technique lesson might look like.

As a general rule, Alexander Technique teachers tend to work from the core of the body — neck, head and back – out towards the extremities ie the arms and legs. The major muscles that move the limbs, however, have their origins in the torso. So working with the neck, head back relationship automatically influences the movement of the arms and legs. The converse is also true – working with the arms and legs will reinforce release and expansion through the neck, head and back.

hnique Brighton BN1

“Allow your neck to be free”

Brighton & Hove Alexander Technique Hand on Neck

“Allow your neck to be free in such a way that your head can go forwards & upwards”

Hand on head. Brighton & Hove Islington Alexander Technique

“Allow your neck to be free & your head to go forwards & upwards so that your back can lengthen & widen”

Hands on the back. Brighton Hove Islington Alexander Technique

In practice most Alexander Technique teachers do not recite these directions parrot-fashion. The words and language tend to be naturalistic and tailored to fit the individual.

Arms & Legs– Although there are specific directions for the arms & legs often the teacher will ask the pupil to continue focussing on their neck, head and back relationship as they work with the arms and the legs.

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove London Islington. Taking arms during table work.JPG”


Alexander Technique Brighton Hove london Islington__Taking arms during table work


Alexander Technique Brighton, Hove & London chair work 

Alexander Technique Brighton & Hove - Helping pupil with bending. Also known as “Monkey”.
Alexander Technique Brighton & Hove. The deep squat.

It’s difficult to really capture the living, dynamic quality of an Alexander Technique lesson on a photograph. Young children often embody that Alexander quality unconsciously.

It isn’t just about moving in and out of a chair. It’s a convenient way of learning to move easily and efficiently. A convenient method that can be transferred into all sorts of everyday movements and activities. It’s a great method of learning to suspend habitual muscular and even emotional responses.

osteopathy cpd courses uk

Osteopathy CPD courses UK

YouTube video – Placing a hand underneath the sacrum

Placing a hand underneath the sacrum is a procedure much favoured by Cranio-Sacral osteopaths.  Please scroll down to see YouTube video. In this class the process is being explored from a more Alexander Technique perspective. Alan Mars demonstrates the procedure and takes questions and answers before the participants pair up and explore the touch together.

Next course date:

11 – 4.30 pm on 20th October 2013
In a Central Brighton & Hove venue, East Sussex
alan.mars@yahoo.co.uk        07930 323 057

This CPD course presents a structured approach coupled with a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Class numbers are small allowing for plenty of individual attention.

  • explore the principles of the Alexander Technique
  • experiment with applying theTechnique in your daily life
  • explore applications for your therapeutic practice
  • experience hands-on work from Alan
  • have time for questions and discussion

We will work together in small groups, pairs and one to one. Participants will receive hand-outs and a certificate of attendance.

Alan has over thirty years of teaching experience in:

Teacher training
Private practice
Public workshops
Running CPD courses

View his website here –

Alan brightonalexandertechnique.com

Osteopathy CPD courses UK

ESPRESSO and the dancing goats!


Dancing goats, religion, culture clash, mass alcoholism…

Sudden clarity, the stock market, the modern social melting pot…

What are we talking about?

The history of one of our most enduringly popular drinks…


Let’s float back through the centuries…

Kaldi, the Ethiopian goatherd notices his goats behaving unusually – livelier and happier. The goats, he discovers, are feasting on a bush covered with reddish coloured beans. Kaldi tries a few of the beans and soon he too is dancing. He takes the mysterious beans up to the monastery. A wise man, one of the monks, makes a tea out of the beans. The “coffee tea” sustains the brethren, wakefully through the many and long hours of devotion and prayer. And the rest, as they say, is history.

European monks, by contrast, were drinking on average 12 pints of beer per day plus wine… and this was below the average of the population! Everyone in Europe, young, old, rich and poor quenched their thirst with beer and wine – drinking the water was potentially fatal.

Throughout the Orient, however, they purified their drinking water by boiling it and infusing it with various herbs. In the non-European world coffee production spreads and grows from strength to strength. In these rich coffee producing countries anyone caught smuggling fertile coffee beans or plants out of the country, especially to Europe, was risking swift decapitation.

Meanwhile in the City of London the clerks would return from their mid morning beer break, with their heads attached but spinning, and the quality of work and commerce would plummet rapidly. Coffee eventually arrives in London. The result of intervening wars, spying, sea journeys and general skulduggery. It was embraced with open arms, especially by the Puritans. Why? Coffee promoted clear memory, clarity of thought and stimulating conversation – quite a contrast to beer.

Coffee shops become social, creative and philosophical hubs. They became centres of commerce with many financial and mercantile companies having their offices in the booths of London coffee shops – Lloyds of London for example.

The coffee shops were the places where the prime movers of the age met to discuss the ideas which, for better or for worse, laid foundations for the philosophies which still inspire or repel us today.


Many people have heard of the Japanese tea ceremony and of the calming meditative effects association with the discipline. But how much consideration have we given to the great tradition of coffee culture?

The early coffee house culture was associated with comfortable surroundings and durable material like glass or china. Unfortunately much of today’s coffee culture is an “on the move” phenomenon associated with the ubiquitous paper cup. Fodder as distinct from food for thought. Without sufficient leisure and reflection there is no fresh thought or creativity. Fortunately a few coffee shops continue to cherish and nurture this socially interactive and mutually stimulating culture of leisure. Tinderbox – what a shining example! Blessed good fortune!

As you sip your favoured tipple from the simple, aesthetically pleasing, porcelain cup pause and take a look around this hallowed shrine to coffee. It is a perfect location for that most compelling of pass-times – people watching.

A complete mix socially and in age. An equally comfortable place for both women and men. Business meetings. Friends and lovers. Writers with their laptops. Film makers discussing story lines and scripts. Cross planetary emails fly from Ipads. And of course people, just like you, engaged in solitary reflection.

How much wealth – financially, emotionally and spiritually – is being generated around you right now?


Coffee preparation has gone through many incarnations from a tea infusion, to pot boiling, to percolating, to filtering and finally to what many would consider the pinnacle of the art- the espresso machine. Many people think espresso means fast as in express. Espresso, however translates as es-presso literally – pressed out. A relatively slow process to be done with great love and care.

Let us hear from a Master of Coffee, Phillip McClemments manager of the Islington Tinderbox, on the art of making the perfect espresso.

“Espresso is the basis of all the coffee drinks that we know and love – from your breakfast lattes to your special sweet treat Mocha’s. The preparation of the espresso machine is of almost equal importance to the quality of the coffee itself. For example – the water must be able to flow freely through clean tubing, a good barista will clean the espresso machines tubing three times a day.

Timing the water flow through the coffee is incredibly important. About twenty five seconds for the perfect espresso – regardless of whether it is a single, double or triple espresso. It’s a question of getting the “crema” right – the bubbles that form on the surface of the espresso. Less than twenty-five seconds and the crema, is fragmented and the bubbles are too large. What you have is basically dirty water – it has the right colour but your coffee has no flavour. More than twenty-five seconds and the crema becomes muddy, overly dense and your coffee is bitter.

Once you’ve got that right you have the foundation for everything – lattes, cappucinos, Americanos, Mocha’s you name it. Each and every cup of coffee is important. Each one needs the same amount of care.”

And that is just about it apart from one final thought. Some thought for your food and some food for thought:

“If I wear Armani underwear it does not become part of me. If I drink coffee it does become part of me. Coffee is more important”

Italian food writer

Alan Mars is the author of “Presenter – Being Your Best and Beyond” (Hodder) which he wrote in the Tinderbox!

In addition to being a writer he is also a Presentation Skills coach and a teacher of the Alexander Technique. 

07930 323 057

The diaphragm- Youtube clip for singers, speakers, actors

The diaphragm- a Youtube video clip

Most singers, actors and public speakers talk about the importance of the diaphram in healthy, effective voice production. In my experience however, 99% of the same singers, actors and speakers have an extremely inaccurate idea of the anatomical location and dimensions of the diaphragm. Getting an accurate external representation of the diaphragm can be of enormous benefit to the singer, speaker and actor. Internalising this accurate representation of the diaphragm will affect the power, range and colour of their voice.

So here is a short YouTube clip that many of my students have found particularly helpful. It’s and animated view of the diaphragm at work from above, below and the side. Watch several times and… as you do… you can realise that this is really what is going on inside… of you! Happy singing and speaking.

The diaphragm- a Youtube video clip for singers, speakers, actors & people who breathe!

alexander technique semi-supine active rest position in pictures images – Hove BN3

Below this text is a sequence of still images taken from the YouTube video in previous post. It shows the broad brushstrokes of how to get into and out of the Alexander Technique semi-supine active resting position. Enjoy!

An Alexander Technique lesson for £5? I have released a high quality audio recording that talks you through the semi-supine position. It lasts about 13 minutes – so it can be fitted into a busy day quite nicely.

Payment will be via PayPal. Delivery via email. For purchase details please visit this link:

email me at alan.mars@yahoo.co.uk or call me on 07930 323 057

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alexander technique, semi supine, active rest, picture, image, audio download

Hove Alexander Technique a video presentation – What? Who? Why? How?

The Alexander Technique – a New Orientation

What is the Alexander Technique? Who was Mr. Alexander? Why do people practice the Alexander Technique? How does it work?

I really like this Alexander Technique YouTube video presentation. It is informative, clear, aesthetically pleasing and addresses all the above questions. I wish I had made it myself… I will credit the creator of the video as soon as I can find out who it is!

In 2 minutes and 39 seconds it takes us through an astounding amount of information. You may have to use the pause button to fully absorb all the information. Here it is in summary :

  • F.M. Alexander – his journey
  • The Technique Travels – Alexander comes to London and…
  • What the Alexander Technique is not
  • What the Alexander Technique is
  • Visiting Our Posture – Back & Down… Forward & Up
  • An Alexander Journey – Not all about posture
  • The Force of Habit
  • Faulty Sensory Awareness
  • Inhibition and Non-Doing
  • Sending Directions
  • Primary Control – Checking the Compass
  • The Technique In Practice – Applying the technique in our lives
  • Everyday Activity
  • Performance and Public Speaking
  • Sports and Exercise
  • The Workplace
  • An Alexander Technique Lesson
  • NHS Medical Research – the BMJ back pain trial details

Alexander Technique Hove a video presentation – What? Who? Why? How?

Alexander Technique Running on Hove Lawns

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Out running today on Hove Lawns. A beautiful sunny January day. I recalled my initial running sessions with Alexander Technique teacher/marathon gold medallist Paul Collins.

Any time I ran behind Paul I was always really struck by the tiny, small steps he took. Smaller than many peoples walking steps even. Well, he did go on to win, veterans super-distance championships in the 1980’s.

It’s a method that really works. It gives you a sense of time in which you can both observe and organise yourself…

Running slowly in the morning sunlight. Running through my Alexander Technique “directions”…

  • Head balancing easily on top of my spine.
  • Neck free.
  • Back lengthening.
  • Widening across the shoulders.
  • Leading each step with the knee.
  • Small, rolling steps.
  • Looking right out along the length of Hove Lawns to the Peace Statue.

I’m not really trying to go anywhere fast, certainly not striving after a certain level of fitness, but a nice of smooth rhythm develops – a gentle endorphin ripple. And that winter sports injury seems to be subsiding nicely.

Alexander Technique Running on Hove Lawns

alexander technique hove- running fitness breathing

alexander technique hove- running fitness breathing

As I run along Hove Lawns several times a week I see many fellow runners who habitually breathe through their mouth.

The disadvantages of mouth breathing are:

  • It makes less efficient use of the oxygen you take in
  • It is associated with a poor balance of the head on top of the spine
  • It is associated with, less efficient, clavicular breathing
  • It is easier to exceed your safe maximum heart rate for your current age and level of fitness

Mouth breathing, an industrial health specialist told me, is a largely post-industrial habit caused by nasal congestion associated with high density populations, pollution and contaminants.

I mentioned this conversation to an art historian friend. She agreed that it made sense. If a character in a pre-industrial painting has its mouth open it indicates that the character is speaking, singing, shouting or expressing a strong emotion vocally. Not simply standing and breathing through the mouth apparently.

So why do so many people mouth-breathe while running? As an Alexander Technique teacher I find this an intriguing question. F.M. Alexander’s problems were intimately tied up with an inefficient breathing pattern… Congestion and blockages can play their part but I suspect that the main culprit is simply habit.

The benefits of nasal breathing are:

  • It makes more efficient use of the oxygen you take in
  • It automatically keeps you within a safe maximum heart rate for your current age and level of fitness
  • It is associated with a better balance of the head on top of the spine
  • It is associated with more efficient diaphragmatic & intercostal breathing .

Give it ago. Nasal breathing will almost certainly slow you down a little in the short term. You can use this slower pace as an opportunity to perfect your running style and technique. If you stick with this you will soon return to your former speed but with a much smoother and more reliable running technique. In future posts I will look at some simple strategies for freeing up the nasal passages. I will also go into some more detail about breathing in general.

alan.mars@yahoo.co.uk  or call 07930 323 057

The Alexander Technique - move through your life with greater ease

alexander technique hove- running fitness breathing

Alexander Technique Brighton Hove – BMJ back pain video

The BMJ Back Pain Trial video

British Medical Journal trial- Alexander technique relieves low back pain…

Trial participants were taught the Alexander Technique to improve muscle tone, coordination, balance and movement skills. Participants were helped to recognise and avoid habits that caused or aggravated their pain.


All Alexander Technique lessons were provided on a one-to-one basis. Teachers used both hands-on teaching and adequate verbal explanation.

All the Alexander Technique teachers had been teaching for at least three years and were members of STAT, the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique

Brighton, Alexander Technique, BMJ, back pain, Hove, Sussex, fitness, posture

Alexander Technique Brighton – low back pain relief

Alexander Technique relieves low back pain…

Significant long-term benefit from Alexander Technique lessons for low back pain has been demonstrated by a major study published by the British Medical Journal on 20th August 2008

  • 24 AT lessons proved to be most beneficial
  • Six lessons followed by exercise were about 70% as effective as 24 lessons
  • Long-term benefits unlikely to be due to placebo effect
  • Lessons were one-to-one, provided by experienced STAT teachers

This was a scientific randomised controlled trial 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain; 144 were randomised to normal care, 147 to massage, 144 to six Alexander technique lessons, and 144 to 24 Alexander technique lessons; half of each of these groups were randomised to exercise prescription.

Link to BMJ trial

Alexander Technique, brighton, hove, low, back, pain, bmj