FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why would anyone come and see a Hellerwork Practitioner or a Alexander Technique Teacher?

People usually come to see me because they are in some kind of pain that hasn’t been resolved by the medical profession.  Others come to me because they are experiencing pain but they cannot (or don't want to) take medication and want to avoid radical and irrevocable medical interventions like hip replacements. They want to try something less invasive or alternative. Sometimes people come because someone they know has had the same problem and has experienced benefits from working with these techniques.


What is the difference between Hellerwork and The Alexander Technique?

HELLERWORKconsists of 11 sessions of connective tissue (known as fascia) bodywork with attention to emotional responses during the bodywork and movement lessons.
 
Our bodies consist mainly of fascia. In fact, we have more fascia in our bodies than muscle. When experiencing trauma of any kind; emotional, nutritional and structural (injuries like falling and car accidents etc.) the fascia becomes tight, hard and gluey which causes two things; restricted movement and eczema.
 
Eczema is the lack of blood, oxygen, fluids, and lymph through the muscle fibers, which is the main cause of muscle pain. In Hellerwork, I use my hands to release the fascia throughout the entire body over the 11 sessions. This sequence of fascia release is very effective in “unwinding” the whole body, returning it to more normal movement, giving it new vitality, and realigning the structure.
 
Hellerwork is excellent for helping people get out of pain but how do they stay pain free?
 
In this regard, THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE is extremely complimentary to Hellerwork because the “lessons” then address the misuse (how we move) that is often the cause that gets us into pain in the first place. The majority of our muscular pain relates to the unconscious, habitual shortening and tightening of the muscles for movement.
 
The Alexander Technique lessons re-educate a person over time to reverse bad habits and keep the structure long and wide, so that you don’t pull down on yourself when moving. Retaining your height and freedom of movement is a learnable practice that can be lost unknowingly over time, especially if past injuries are not have not been structurally treated.
 
In my years of experience, I can recommend that using both techniques is the fastest way to ensure full recovery.

What is the difference between experiencing a session of Hellerwork and a lesson in the Alexander Technique?

HELLERWORK is hands on bodywork. You are on the table for a 90 minute session, and all the work you receive is hands on connective tissue bodywork. You also receive information about how to make changes yourself, in order to avoid recreating the pain that you are in. In the sessions emotions also are addressed as they arise. The purpose of Hellerwork is to relieve pain, restore the tissue to it's optimal function and re-educate you so that you understand how you may be contributing to your own painful situation.
 
ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE LESSONS are exactly that – lessons! The technique is not therapy, bodywork, or exercises. If you like definitions, it is movement; standing , sitting, walking etc.  The purpose is to bring all these activities into “conscious use of the self”. During a one hour lesson you are on the table fully clothed for approximately 30 minutes and for the rest of the hour you are either on the floor doing movements or working on a chair. The purpose of the lesson is to bring about conscious awareness of how you move so that you can lengthen, and widen the muscles of your body for movement, as opposed to the typical pattern of shortening and tightening the muscles for movement.
For most people their movements are below the level of conscious awareness, meaning that you basically don’t realize what you are doing when moving. When a habit is ingrained, the nervous system takes over your movements, they go on automatically and you aren’t aware of your involvement in the things that you are doing that cause the pain.
 
A teacher who not only knows the theory of the technique but has the experience in their own body of lengthening and widening puts their hands on you and "moves you" in the right direction - towards increased length and width.. This is why a one on one teacher experience is very important. This most valuable information within a lesson cannot be translated verbally. It is very restorative, holistic and anti-aging. Despite the common belief that you need to lose your height, as you grow older it is a myth, and becoming stooped is not part of the aging process. It is from pulling down on yourself (shortening, tightening) over time which is treatable through an Alexander Technique education.

How can Hellerwork help with injuries?

An injury (trauma) happens on several different levels.

Firstly there is a physical trauma, based on an event of some kind that most people would call an injury; the broken bone, or sprained ankle or open wound. When a trauma such as this occurs it often sets in place a series of compensatory changes to the structure of the body and the area around the injury that allopathic medical practitioners often never consider.

Secondly, there is an emotional trauma that puts our bodies into “fight or flight”. This state of trauma often does not just go away as it is in many respects a “state”. Being in “fight or flight” also slows down our physical healing by putting greater demands on the senses and immune system.  One of the things that bodywork does is calm our nervous system, shifting our state to a more relaxed one, which then makes us much more receptive to physical recovery.

Both of these traumas not only tighten the fascia, which prevents us from moving freely but they throw the whole structure off. In other words if you have an injury to the foot, knee, or hip; all of your weight gets shifted to the opposite side of the body and you start to lean to one side causing undue pressure to the opposite side of the body. Once our body has adapted to that shift it becomes normalized in the nervous system such that after your injury heals you now find yourself  leaning off to one side, but thinking that you are centered and straight. Even after the injury is healed you have to deal with this new habit of leaning to one side.

With lower body injuries it can also start a collapse in the upper parts of the body.  Even upper body injuries can cause major structural problems that lead to pain long after the injury has healed, such as rotations that torque in the hip that causes the knee to collapse in. Once the knees start to collapse in the structure is really in trouble.  Our structure is a tensegritic figure which means, like the geodesic dome, that each part of the structure is reliant on the other for its integrity and that any fault in one part of the body effects the whole structure. One of the things that Hellerwork does is bring an awareness to those areas of the body that are misaligned for whatever reason and helps a person become aware of how tightly we hold those areas and how it is taking us off our alignment.  It also frees the fascia and provides circulation to all of the muscles. Better circulation means faster healing.  When the body is in alignment it becomes a very lightweight and efficient structure.

When you have an injury you want to address it on many levels, including the emotional - especially if it was something very traumatic like a car accident. Hellerwork provides an opportunity to look at emotional aspect while also attending to the physical aspect of the injury.

A STORY: A young boy was fishing with his Dad, a favorite activity. That day he stepped on a piece of glass that cut his foot deeply. As an adult he was still shifted over to the opposite side of his body due to the unresolved recovery from that injury. During his Hellerwork sessions the scar tissue from that old injury was addressed and freed, and a new awareness of the fact that he had been standing on one side of his body came about. While the foot was being worked on the story emerged that when he first cut himself and was treated, the people in his family were very sympathetic but it took a long time to heal.  After a while his family members began to tire of it and he would hear things like, “buck up” and “be a big boy” and other statements that denied what he was feeling.  As he was still in a lot of pain, the whole experience had been hard on him as a young child. This is a good example of how healing an injury new or old can take place on different levels. This is also why Hellerwork is often referred to as “a complete bodywork system”, and why it is wonderful for healing injuries.

What happens after the eleven sessions of Hellerwork if I do a Hellerwork series?

Once you have gone through the eleven sessions of Hellerwork people come back for what they call tune ups. In a tune up I repeat the tenth session where I work with all the joints and it is a full body session, or we repeat a session that they feel they are not complete with like the Psoas session (as outlined in the Hellerwork handbook).

Additionally, I can design a session for you based on what is happening with your structure at the time. Some people who enjoy bodywork, or work with their bodies (like athletes and those who work in trades professions) come for regular ongoing sessions. Other people come in when they feel a need based on their experience with the bodywork, or if they have an accident like falling or car accident where the structure is again misaligned they come in for further sessions.
 
Everyone is different and has different needs but after eleven sessions of bodywork people have enough experience to seem to know what they need.

How many Alexander lessons do I need?

Alexander students come on a regular basis and take breaks when they need to but for the most part they come to an Alexander lesson the way person who was learning the piano or a foreign language would come for a lesson, once or twice a week until they attain the level of proficiency they want to attain.

For my students who come in pain even after they have worked through the pain they can see the benefits of continuing they work for feeling better and looking better.

I don’t want to spend my time thinking about how I move?

Learning to think about how you use yourself gets easier as you go along, but it is interesting that usually the people who say that they just don’t want to think about how they move all the time, are the ones that actually spend a great deal of time and effort managing their pain. Wouldn’t it be better to think about how you are using yourself rather than repeat the pain forming habits?
 
If you can pay attention to how you do an activity, you can learn to do it pain free. Both pain, and thinking about your use, bring you into the present. If I was going to be present I would want to be present watching myself move rather than being present in the experience of my pain.

How do I get started?

It starts with a phone call where we have a conversation about your needs. We book an appointment. I work everyday except Wednesday and Sunday, there are some exceptions. I have three evenings that I have evening hours Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

If you are coming in for Hellerwork, there is a small intake form that we fill out together. The session is 90-minutes. And there is some homework like laying on the floor for 10 minutes a day etc.

If you are coming in for The Alexander Technique lesson we begin the lesson when I open the door to greet you because I am observing your use at all times. Usually I give a table turn first where you are on the table fully clothed and I am aligning the structure. After table work we work on the floor for about fifteen minutes and then spend about fifteen minutes on the floor work walking or in some activity. If you experience pain from certain activities and want to incorporate that into your lessons, you can bring in a musical instrument (for example), but usually that happens a little later in your training.

Do I need to sign up for anything?

There is no need to sign up a series of any kind. My clients and students pay me each time they see me and rebook at the end of their session, or call me for their next session or lesson. I take cash or checks and I do not accept credit cards.