Exploring Lying Down Work - Seán Carey

Exploring Lying Down Work with Seán Carey
Onetime session

A half day course at HITE Harley Street on
Saturday 16 Feb 2019 - 1:30-4:30pm 

'What is the definition of humans?' asks Kyoto-based primatologist Tetsuro Matsuzawa. 'Many people say bipedal locomotion. Decades ago, they said it’s language, tools, family. No. Everything is incorrect. My understanding is the stable supine posture, that is completely unique to humans.'  

Whether Professor Matsuzawa’s claim is true or not we know from direct experience that lying down is very important for our health and well-being. Most of us spend around a third of our lives lying fast asleep on our back, side or front. Furthermore, modern neuroscience reveals that even if you are not asleep but simply reclining on your back you will process thoughts and emotions differently than if you assume other attitudes, such as sitting upright or sitting while leaning forward. 

FM Alexander, of course, did not have the benefit of such insights when he was developing his technique at the turn of the 20th century. Perhaps that was a good thing because he was then able to approach the problem of how humans react to various stimuli without being burdened by an overly strong theoretical framework. Nevertheless, in his early years of teaching in Australia, Alexander worked out that most of us, while lying down, tend to react to having our body parts – head, legs and arms – manipulated by someone else even though we are asked not to. We are inclined to stiffen and lock our ribcage. Not for nothing then, did he come to call that gentle process ‘inhibition work’. Importantly, the key elements of inhibition and direction in that process apply to both the Alexander teacher and the pupil, otherwise to quote Marjory Barlow, this process is reduced to simply ‘bodywork’.

Although Alexander never had a table in his own teaching room we know that he did use lying down work with pupils who had difficulty in moving in and out of the chair. He also encouraged his early assistants – initially his sister Amy and later Ethel Webb and Irene Tasker – to perform lying down work with pupils. Moreover, Alexander went to great lengths to explain how he wanted lying down work to be carried out on pupils to his first group of teacher trainees, who began their course at London’s Ashley Place in 1931. In addition, Alexander taught his early trainees how to lie down on the floor on their own. This included what to do and what not to do while lying in supine or semi-supine, as well as how to efficiently return to balanced standing. 

In this workshop, Sean Carey, assisted by Claire Rennie and Kamal Thapen, will explore in detail what Alexander taught his first teacher trainees about lying down work as well as important discoveries and insights about the placing and use of the hands on the pupil by generations of teachers. 

All attendees will have the opportunity to buy Think More, Do Less at the special workshop price of only £10.00 (Normal price is £18.99). 

Seán Carey - biography 

Seán Carey PhD studied social science as both an undergraduate and postgraduate at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He started taking lessons in the Alexander Technique as part of his rehabilitation and recovery from a motorcycle accident in which his right leg and foot were badly broken. He became so fascinated with the process that he went on to train as a teacher qualifying in 1986 at Alexander Teaching Associates (ATA). 

Before, while and after training Seán also had lessons from a number of teachers taught by FM Alexander, including Marjory Barlow, Walter Carrington, Sidney Holland and Peggy Williams. He has worked on five STAT-approved teacher training courses. He has published five other books on the Technique and written about the Technique for Athletics Weekly, Talkback and The Irish Times.

Seán will be assisted by Claire Rennie, who trained with Shoshana Kaminitz and Kamal Thapen, who trained with Walter Carrington. They will share their experience of different approaches to teaching the Alexander Technique.  

Pricing £65 per person with discount for two. 25% student discount available with code XCZGNF. 

Course type
For Alexander Teachers, trainees and others interested
£65 for one with discount for two
020 7223 1868
07775 934 448
Start date
End date
A half day course at HITE Harley Street on Saturday 16 Feb 2019, 1:30 to 4:30pm

Venue address, website and telephone numbers

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Rachel Baird, Media Officer, London

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