I am a Teacher of the Alexander Technique and Tai Chi Chuan in Lancashire and West Yorkshire. I have been doing Tai Chi Chuan for 20 years and teaching it for about 12 years and am an instructor member of the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain. My Alexander journey started many years ago too (see below) and I have been a fully qualified teaching member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (MSTAT) since 2007.
I teach both from my private practice at my home in Bacup and also at Physiofusion in Burnley. Funnily enough this private physiotherapy practice is owned by the same physio that suggested I try the Alexander Technique in the first place. Small world? But just goes to show how valuable other peoples’ experience can be as a turning point for all of us.
I hope that my story below might inspire you to take this fantastic opportunity to better use of yourself.
It’s all in the movement!
When I was 11 years old I was knocked down by a car on a zebra crossing. Although not seriously injured, I can say that my back never really felt that great after the accident. In my twenties I had repeated episodes of great back pain and would be unable to walk or move easily for days at a time, until the inflammation subsided.
I would not say that I am the sporty type, but I have always enjoyed dancing and movement from a very young age. I was under no illusions that I would be the next Margot Fonteyn, but I enjoyed it all the same! Mum took me to ballet lessons but I just didn’t cut it, I was a bit plump and felt a bit like a baby elephant!
It was in my early thirties that I discovered Tai Chi Chuan. A friend told me about a local Adult Ed class, I signed up and was instantly hooked. I had previously tried Karate but the warm-ups nearly killed me, let alone the training! My back just wasn’t up to it. Tai Chi was different though. Gentle and graceful, but I also knew immediately that it had immense power as a martial art, hidden beneath the relaxed flowing movements. Over the years Tai Chi has been - and still is - a most rewarding journey and I feel so happy that I chose to learn it.
Tai Chi was slowly helping me to learn about my tension states and my back became less troublesome. But after another episode of back pain which hampered my Tai Chi practice, I got so fed up that I made an appointment to see a physiotherapist. I had already tried most other things, like osteopathy and massage; these had had some temporary results, but the back pain would always recur. The physiotherapist offered the usual exercise regimes for me to do at home, but these also had a limited effect. So then she suggested that I see an Alexander Technique teacher. So that’s what I did and after a few lessons I instinctively knew that this Technique was going to help me. In fact I was so impressed that I decided to train as a teacher of the Alexander Technique myself and qualified in July 2007.
The Alexander Technique really pinpointed my habitual areas of tension and I gained a real understanding of what I was doing to myself! This then gave me the clarity and the choice to change the things that were not useful to me, and especially the health of my back. The Alexander awareness improved my Tai Chi as well and they became like partners in my much better use of my self. Not to mention pretty much eradicating debilitating episodes of back pain. If I allow myself to stress, rush or push myself too far the old back pain will have a bit of a whisper, but now I know what to do so it doesn’t end up as a roar!
These days, as well as teaching private lessons in Bacup and Burnley, I teach acting students at the Arden School of Theatre in Manchester and to young musicians at Chethams School of Music In Manchester. I also do some work with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain on their training courses.
I very much look forward to showing you how you can use yourself better and help yourself to alleviate pain, gain strength and clarity, poise, balance and co-ordination.
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ANNE WHITEHEAD MSTAT