How many Alexander Technique lessons do I need?

Photo Katie Vandyck

Photo Katie Vandyck

Many people ask how many lessons they’ll need when they first start to learn the Alexander Technique. There’s no simple answer. How many you have is up to you, and it all depends on what you’re looking for.  Here are some pointers:  

1. The effect is cumulative and you’ll need a series of lessons  

You’re re-educating your neuromuscular system and learning how to overcome ingrained habits of movement and thinking.  The effects build up lesson by lesson, and what you learn each time becomes more easily embedded if lessons are closer together at the beginning. Coming, say, twice a week for a few weeks when you start is helpful, then you can reduce to once a week or once a fortnight as your awareness and movement begin to change. 

In a major clinical trial for back pain people who had 24 lessons came twice a week for 6 weeks, then weekly for a further 6 weeks, reducing to every fortnight and then two top-up lessons at 7 and 9 months.  Everyone’s needs differ, so find a teacher who’s easy for you to get to regularly and a frequency and time of day that works for you.  

 2. People vary in why they come and what they want

After 6 to 10 lessons you’ll know what the Alexander Technique can do for you and how it can help. You can assess whether you want to continue and if so how often you want to have lessons.

Some people come for 20 to 30 lessons over several months, then for less frequent top-ups. There are also some who make space for it as a regular part of their life over a number of years and find it invaluable in different aspects of their lives.

In the back pain trial people came for either 6 or 24 Alexander Technique lessons.  The best results were for 24 lessons, but those who had 6 lessons still got significant benefit.  Another clinical trial looking at chronic neck pain showed that 20 lessons were effective in providing long-term relief from pain.

3. The benefits may change over time

When I began I signed up for 20 lessons and could have stopped there.  But I saw it was helping with deep-seated underlying postural and pain issues. If I wanted to get to the bottom of these I’d have to carry on. My posture improved and the pain went away, but I continued with lessons.  I wasn’t always sure why, but I knew it helped me. It provided breathing space, and gave me a sense of optimism about the future and the possibility for change.   

The number of lessons gradually became less important. I’d started to integrate the thinking and practice into my life and saw it as a cornerstone for my own long-term wellbeing. It also gave me the strength, calm and balance to deal with a difficult period of family transition and change.  

Maybe you have come to the Alexander Technique for help with something specific. But if you give it time and allow it some space in your life you may find its benefits greater than you expected.