Poise for thought as I fall under Andrea’s spell

Reporter: Martyn Torr
Date published: 02 June 2010

KNOCKIN’ About: OVER the years, in the course of diligent newshoundry for this column, I have subjected myself to a myriad of ritual humiliations. So, when Andrea Walsh called and asked me to experience the Alexander Technique, I thought — Why not?

I had little idea what to expect when I entered the scented halls of Tymbuktu in Union Street — did you know that owners Karen McGuinness and Gillian Holt will have been dispensing beauty at the salon for 30 years come November?

I digress . . . I’m writing about Andrea and her “Poise for thought” business model. Clever that, poise for thought, for after an hour in her gentle hands I am a convert. Poise, posture, call it what you will, has a huge affect in how we all feel.

It was, I have to confess, a stimulating experience — Andrea was so gentle and so persuasive, at one point I actually took off my jacket . . . oh, and my shoes.

Andrea, from Uppermill, kind of stumbled across the discipline when her musician husband brought home a book on the subject.

Alexander was an Australian actor who used to regularly lose his voice during recitals.

Frustrated to the point of anger, he developed his own solution for overcoming these problems by discarding damaging posture and co-ordination habits. All of this he wrote down and his Alexander Technique is now recognised as a life-changing experience for people with back problems and other body issues.

Andrea told me: “Lessons consist of a gentle hands-on by a teacher alongside a verbal explanation to help experience what lightness and economy of use is possible for day-to-day activities.

“Like standing, walking, sitting and bending.”

And so it came to pass that I came under the spell of Andrea for a session of restoration — for the basic tenet of the Alexander Technique is that it is not a process of adding something, but of restoring something. And those are the words of the great Aussie himself.

Andrea is not playing at this. She has spent £13,000 on a three-year qualification in Manchester and now needs to make a return on that investment although, in personal terms, she is already reaping the benefits.

“I first took an interest in the book that my husband Patrick brought home because I was having recurring problems with my back. I had lots of treatments, and all worked to a degree, but they were never permanent.

“A clinical trial published in the British Medical Journal has shown that the Alexander Technique lessons are effective and provide long-term benefits,”says Andrea.

Touch wood, I have never suffered from back pain, but that isn’t to say I can be complacent.

An hour with Andrea and I am convinced that we all need habits, good habits.

Now the trick is remembering what she told me . . .