It can be interesting to ask Alexander Technique teachers how they use the Technique in their own lives.
Imagine how much more interesting would it be to learn just how F. Matthias Alexander, the developer of the Technique, used it in an unexpected emergency.
As it happens, a very nice description of just this situation can be found on pages 184 and 185 of Louise Morgan’s 1954 book, Inside Yourself – The New Way to Health Based on the Alexander Technique*. Morgan writes an account of one of Alexander’s students, a Miss G. R., who one day arrived for a lesson and noticed that Alexander had a bruise on his forehead, and commented on it.
“Oh, that!” he said gaily, as if it were of small consequence, “I fell down the cellar steps last evening with a bottle of 1938 burgundy in one hand and a half-bottle of champagne in the other. I threw away the burgundy on the way down, and was just picking myself up when my dinner guest appeared at the top of the steps. His only comment was “That was the last bottle of ’38!” I thought that rather hard, especially in view of the fact that I had saved the champagne.”
Miss G. R. was appalled by his light heartedness. “How can you joke about it!” she protested. “Falling downstairs at your great age! Why anything could have happened!”
“It might indeed,” he agreed. “It would undoubtedly have been a grave matter, as Shakespeare would have said, to the average person of my age. But I know how to deal with emergencies. I had fetched the bottles to the top of the steps as was trying to push the door to behind me, but it swung further open and hence as I moved back instead of meeting the door I met the wide open spaces and down I went backwards.
“But in that split-second of time I was able to plan my fall in such a way that I would take the impact on my shoulder on one of the steps and get only a few bruises. And so it happened.”
*You can locate a copy of the book by Googling the title.
Alexander was never bashful at showing off his highly-evolved flexibility and coordination – as can be seen on a few YouTube videos in which he appears. Here’s one of my favorites; he’s partying with some of his training course students some 20 years before his staircase fall. He is only in his 60s here:
Have you ever had occasion to use the Alexander Technique in an emergency situation? I would love to learn about your experience.