One of the many joys of teaching the Alexander Technique is meeting people from so many walks of life and who come for many different reasons. When I receive an enquiry about lessons from an older person, they often ask ‘But is it too late for me?’ My reply is that it’s never too late – people of all ages can benefit from learning the Alexander Technique.
It is true that, as a generalisation, younger people tend to be able to change more rapidly than older people. After all, their lifetime of habits will have had less time to become ingrained. However, slow but gradual small changes can bring about significant benefit to a person’s wellbeing and quality of life. For example, one woman I worked with who was well into her 80s was delighted when she was once again able to visit her local food shop. Previously her back pain had made it impossible to walk the short distance needed, to carry even light shopping, or to stand in a queue. Regaining mobility after a stroke is another area where the Alexander Technique can be enormously helpful, and I’ve helped many older people work through their balance problems.
When you learn the Alexander Technique you are embarking on a process of change that involves the whole mind-body self. It involves both experiential learning and discovering new thinking skills, facilitated by the hands-on and spoken guidance from the teacher. We can change because we can create new neurological connections and pathways. Research has also shown that we actually keep producing new brain cells throughout our lives, even into our 90s.1
The oldest person I have worked with so far was 99. She was a remarkable women interested in, and knowledgeable about, so many aspects of life. We spent a few hours together over the course of four or five lessons, with a mix of hands on work and talk about FM Alexander and his life’s work. It felt to me like she had decided to spend her final years finding out about different approaches that would contribute to her sense of spirituality and meaning of life.
People often begin lessons for a particular and quite tangible reason, such as back or neck pain, anxiety, or posture-related issues. Those who have more than a handful of lessons subsequently discover the wide-ranging nature of the benefits of bringing the Alexander Technique into their lives. It is often a surprise to them when their general outlook on life changes, perhaps becoming more open minded and optimistic. Recent research has brought together the evidence on the psychological benefits of learning the Alexander Technique.2
So, as one of my favourite badges says, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!”….or indeed, never too late to make changes in pretty well any aspect of your life!
- Moreno-Jiménez EP, et al. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is abundant in neurologically healthy subjects and drops sharply in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Medicine 2019;25:554–560.
- Kinsey D, Glover L, Wadephul F. How does the Alexander Technique lead to psychological and non-physical outcomes? A realist review. European Journal of Integrative Medicine 2021; 46: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eujim.2021.101371.