Alexander Works
With all its demands the Alexander technique is worth every moment it asks for.

Beverley's Story

Beverley Norman is a certified Alexander Technique teacher, having completed an intensive, full-time three-year training in Vancouver, BC. She is a member of Canstat—the Canadian Society of the Alexander Technique—and STAT, the international regulating body in London, England. Beverley is one of only 50 certified teacher members in Canada. She holds a BA from the University of Manitoba.

Beverley MacWatt: teacher of Alexander Technique

Here’s my story. What’s Yours?

I grew up in the Swan River Valley in Manitoba, a small farming community close to the Saskatchewan border, around the same latitude as Saskatoon. I thrived on 10 years of piano lessons; played baritone and trombone in the school band, revelled in school work and boys. A last minute decision had me abandon plans for a degree in nursing in favour of a general arts program and a BA from the University of Winnipeg. My life-long attraction to health survived intermediate careers in marketing and sales, facilitation and management consulting, and co-developing a nursery (Island Specialty Nursery in Chemainus, BC) with my husband, Donald.

I happened to read that the Alexander Technique helped people who did strenuous physical labour to be more efficient and less fatigued. Having found a teacher, I was totally unprepared for the systemic changes that began to happen soon after beginning lessons. I began to sleep much better (a major issue with the onset of menopause); my blood pressure that had inched to higher than normal levels, fell into the normal range; very slowly, almost imperceptibly, my faltering cognitive abilities—another ravage of menopause—began to improve. I had more energy and optimism. My husband noticed changes in me even before I did, and he started lessons.

Somewhere near the beginning of my experience with Alexander Technique lessons I experienced a ‘light as air’, an uplifted feeling of being much taller than normal. (This is a hallmark of the Technique, I learned later.) I decided then and there to become a teacher: I remember thinking, “Every maturing person in mid-life or later should have the opportunity to experience this wonderful feeling.” I thought of maturing people because of that propensity for bodies, as we age, to be drawn down into gravity.

I joined the teacher-training programme in Vancouver six months later, commuting each week from Chemainus. Taking lessons had not prepared me for the rigour and the level of skill exacted in teacher training. Alexander work involves a paradigm shift from conventional models of both medicine and education. Although this was not an easy shift, I knew it to be a genuine one: everything that had been ‘true’ for me in my life converged into congruence. The work continues to become richer, deeper; it permeates every aspect of my being, infusing colour, ease, curiosity. Yet I know this is just the tip of the iceberg, that I am a ‘work in progress’ that will continue as long as I do.

Dr. Bing Guan--a gifted healer whose practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine is informed by his training in China as an orthopaedic surgeon—asked me upon my graduation to join his clinic in Victoria. He has a strong belief in integrative medicine. I was honoured to accept. Strictly speaking, the Alexander Technique is not a healing art; it is an educational method designed to help you learn to help yourself break habits that work against you and cultivate habits that help you live life with more ease.

Anyone who has tried to break long established habits or patterns knows that this cannot be done with any lasting results in a short and quick fix. Admittedly, the ‘Work’ as a process is not for everyone. It tends to suit those who have the will to explore and learn about their use and misuse of themselves. It is for those who are relieved to discover that their discomfort in daily living is caused by something they are doing to themselves and that they can be in control of correcting their misuse. This is empowering. It’s exciting for them. It’s exciting for me!

 

Nearly six years into my teaching, my bio is due for an update. No more commuting from Chemainus! We sold the farm and I closed my Chemainus practice and moved to Victoria. This practice is flourishing. I continue to be fascinated and challenged by the depth of personal growth still awaiting discovery within the psychophysical dimensions of the Alexander technique.

2013: Another two years of teaching has brought me new understandings of this multifaceted technique. Insights come as I work with students -- so much so that I tell them it's I who should be paying them. What fun!