The Alexander Technique - Good Health, Fitness and Poise

Irene Woodrow MSTAT BHSI(Inst)

"The Alexander Technique has helped me greatly. It has given me a new understanding of movement, breathing and posture.
Before learning the Technique I had a sore lower back and knees, was always short of breath and tired, due to asthma and bad posture. It has taught me how to move and breathe freely, alleviating my aches and pains. I no longer take any form of asthma medicine as I feel no need for it."

Alex Murray - Fashion Student

The Technique promotes:

  • - Clear thinking
  • - Physical and mental co-ordination
  • - Improved confidence
  • - Calmness and poise
  • - Sense of well-being
  • - Ability to cope with stress
  • - Impoved performance
  • - Ease of movement
  • - Good carriage and ability to copeduring pregnancy and birth
  • The Technique addresses:

  • - Back and neck pain
  • - Breathing disorders
  • - Headaches
  • - Pregnancy related discomfort
  • - Insomnia
  • - Fatigue
  • - Stress
  • - Depression
  • - Poor balance
  • The Alexander Technique addresses the underlying causes, rather than the symptoms of these conditions. It teaches people to be aware of what they are doing that is contributing to their problem and provides a means to overcome them. Pupils are taught to consciously refrain from bad habits that cause malfunction in the body. They learn to move with ease and poise. It provides a means of restoring good health and well-being. Irene Woodrow is a fully registered Teacher of the Alexander Technique who has been running a full-time practice in Mortimer since 1992.

    About Me

    Irene Woodrow MSTAT BHSI(Inst)

    I am a fully registered and insured Teacher of the Alexander Technique and also on the list of Pru Health Professionals. I have been teaching in Mortimer since 1992 and work with referrals from the local Hospitals, Clinics, and GPs.



    I have a background in horses. Breaking and schooling young horses and teaching where I gained my BHSAI certificate and also BHSI (Inst). As my husband was in the Army we moved around and I put my hand to various things but most enjoyably starting and running the Donnington Garrison Saddle Club for the Army. Latterly, I worked for a Company of Management Consultants. While this gave me a good business grounding which has been invaluable in running my Alexander Practice, I developed quite severe neck and back problems of which no one could find the cause and were severe enough to confine me to bed.


    My introduction to the Alexander Technique came through a book called Body Learning, which I was reading when my Doctor called. He pronounced that I could expect to be there for some time and left me with pain-killers that made me feel absolutely awful. Last but not least he told me that he had just started having lessons in London.


    So I crawled to the telephone and made my first appointment to which my husband drove me, wrapped up in a quilt! I then started to have regular lessons and am delighted to say that my back and neck pain together with the awful migraines have become a thing of the past. So I decided to train as a Teacher to enable me to help other people.


    So that you can get an insight into the benefits that can be gained from the Alexander Technique, I have included some comments from my pupils (see Testimonials) which I am sure you will agree speak for themselves.

    F M Alexander (1869-1955)

    Frederick Matthias Alexander was an Australian actor and Shakespearian reciter who developed a persistent tendency to hoarseness and respiratory trouble. This affected his performances to such an extent as to threaten his career. F M Alexander


    Apart from being advised to rest his voice, he received no further advice from either voice teachers or medical men, although they agreed that the problem must be caused by something he himself was doing when he was reciting.


    So Alexander embarked on a course of self-observation, and came to realise that his problems were caused by the way, when reciting, he interfered with his natural co-ordination and functioning, and that he must somehow find a way of preventing this misuse.


    After several years of patient observation and experiment, he developed a new technique to improve co-ordination and movement. In doing so, he not only cleared up his vocal problems, but also brought about remarkable improvement in his general health.


    He introduced the Alexander Technique in this country in 1904 and was persuaded to develop and teach the Technique by an eminent surgeon, Mr McKay, who introduced him to the medical profession. Alexander continued to teach in the UK and America, publishing a number of books on the Technique including 'The Use of the Self' which describes its evolution, until his death in 1955.


    The Alexander Technique research results published in the British Medical Journal:-


    The results of a recent study into the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique in helping people with chronic or recurrent back pain was published in the British Medical Journal. See here for the publication of the results on the BMJ website and also the video. See here for the report by the BBC and also the video.


    See also my testimonials on Back Pain. The Alexander Technique is highly effective in addressing Back Pain. I should know as that was how I became involved with the Technique I could hardly walk! Now 20 years later I have no back pain at all wonderful!!


    Back pain eased by good posture
    Long-term back pain can be relieved through encouraging sufferers to adopt good posture through the Alexander technique, say researchers. Read article 'Back pain eased by good posture' on BBC website



    Severe Back Pain

    "I cannot recommend the Alexander Technique and Irene Woodrow highly enough.

    I was introduced to Irene and the Alexander Technique by a physiotherapist in 1999, just after I'd been discharged from hospital following my second operation in five years to remove damaged discs from my lower spine. Since my mid-teens I had progressively reduced my levels of activity and tried numerous conventional and complementary therapies to manage my severe back pain, yet my condition continued to deteriorate and I was becoming increasingly disabled. I approached my first lesson with Irene with some trepidation; in pain and needing assistance with almost every aspect of my daily living I was beginning to think I might be beyond help. However, I walked out feeling taller, freer and more hopeful than I had in years!

    Alexander Technique is not a quick fix and it requires effort but the rewards have been enormous. I still have lessons with Irene and as a result I'm able to lead a busy and independent life; running my own company and exercising regularly. Just as importantly, Alexander Technique and Irene's support and guidance have restored my confidence in my body and given me back a sense of control over health and my life!"

    Julie Morrisroe - Company Director

    Chronic Back Pain

    "I am an elderly person in my 78th year and have the good fortune to be a pupil of Irene Woodrow. I had a chronic back condition since the 1960's when I foolishly decided to take up golf in Malaysia. The condition grew progressively worse and it wasn't until I had the opportunity to take part in the Alexander Technique under the skilful tuition of Irene Woodrow that I was able to lead a normal active life. I am pain free and able to take part in all the activities that fill my day. I can drive, garden and regularly walk the dog, usually over heathland for at least 4 miles. Thank you, Irene, for your constant professional care. I highly recommend your services to all people who are suffering pain unnecessarily."

    Jean Irwin - Headmistress (Retd)


    "I have always enjoyed swimming, and it is the best exercise for me because it doesn't stress the joints. But I never learnt to swim properly and always had my head out of the water. When I developed neck pain my doctor advised me to swim but I knew it would not help because of the way I swam. My Alexander Technique teacher learnt to swim with Steven Shaw so I asked her to teach me. I can now swim the breast stroke correctly and it has really allowed me to increase my fitness and improve my breathing even more. It's also very pleasurable to swim using the Alexander Technique and knowing that it is beneficial in many ways, exercising and relaxing at the same time."

    Sue Good - Consultant

    Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue

    "I had my first lesson with Irene Woodrow, after being referred from Dr. Steve Allen at the Pain Clinic, BUPA Hospital, Reading. I had suffered a neck injury at work and a secondary condition had developed called Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. I was suffering with widespread muscle pain, tenderness and constant fatigue and I had been off work for six months. My life prior to my neck injury was full. I had a demanding job that I loved and I was a healthy very lively 40 year old; a complete contrast to the person that walked into Irene's practice.
    Alexander Technique has made an enormous difference to me after having a number of years of constant pain. I can say that it has not only helped my body work more efficiently, but also my mind. I think more clearly and generally feel much calmer. Irene I can't thank you enough."

    Ann Piper - Charity Fund Raiser


    "I decided to start the Alexander Technique on the advice of a friend, who is also a riding instructor. Having had problems for quite a while with my neck and shoulder, I was delighted when after my introductory assessment you said that you would be able to help me.
    As well as resolving the discomfort I was feeling in that one area, the difference the Alexander Technique has made to me in general has been astounding - I feel much stronger and have more energy (probably a good thing too as I ride and compete my two horses!). One benefit I was not expecting when I started was just how much it would help my riding - my instructors have commented on how much it has improved and how much stronger and more balanced I am."

    Rachel Boffey - Bloodstock Agent


    "Recently, as you know, my wonderful husbad, Graham, died. My grief response was profound and led me to shrink my body down. Your lessons have helped me walk through my grief. I cannot thank you enough. Your light touch and concern for my well-being, combined with your rigour as a teacher, have kept me looking straight ahead, lengthening and widening as I go!"

    Arlene Vetere - Professor C.Psychol, AFPBsS, AcSS

    Accident Injury

    "My mobility came to an abrupt end in February 2000. I had fallen from a horse sustaining 3 fractures to my spine. Bone was taken from my hip, rods and bolts inserted in my back and I was encased in a body brace. When I came out of hospital after several months, I could only walk short distances with a lot of support and perch on a stool for a few minutes at a time.
    You have inspired me with confidence and quietly and gently encouraged me. Under your guidance, I have learned to sit, to walk and to lie comfortably. I can now bend down and tie my own shoelaces! I have learned to breathe more easily and climb a flight of stairs without gasping. I can now drive a car and do many jobs around the house. I am back in my demanding but rewarding full-time job teaching children with special needs and have just returned from a walking holiday in the Swiss mountains!"

    Jenny Tarbox - Special Needs Teacher

    Stress and Tension

    "In terms of stress, it is invaluable. I try to ensure 20 minute semi-supine resting state every day, usually early evening, and unquestionable feel better, more refreshed and relaxed for it. More specifically, the Technique has also been effective in resolving occasional aches in the lower back and neck.
    Once understood, the Technique is simple to use, yet subtle and full of common sense. Personally I think that everyone would benefit from it. I have no hesitation in unreservedly recommending it to others, and have already done so.
    Many thanks for what you have done for me."

    John W. Cornwell - Town Planner


    "Here is my feedback on the Technique during pregnancy, labour and child birth.

    As I have previously suffered with back issues, I thought my pregnancy would most certainly resurrect this issue. I believe that this did not happen because of following the technique. Also as a result of practicing the technique my bump remained small and neat throughout my pregnancy

    During my labour I found rocking using a wall, door frame or worktop really helpful, along with sitting backwards on a chair and massage. Focused breathing was also a great help.

    I was told I was 5cm dilated when I arrived at Hospital. But the midwife also commented the head was extremely low. She left the room to check which room would be free for me and then I suddenly had the urge to push and was fully dilated. This all happened very quickly but the positions that help me with these intense contractions were leaning on the bed and rocking or kneeling on the seat if a chair and leaning on the back if it. On my way to the birthing room I found rocking using Stuart as a support the best way to keep calm and in control.

    It all seemed so quick once we arrived at the hospital. I put the speed of this second stage of labour down to the work we had done with the technique to ensure Isla was in the correct position to arrive safely and on time.

    I really enjoyed Stuart attending the joint session and found this extremely beneficial on the day itself.

    Following the technique during pregnancy gave me an opportunity to for some ME time which in itself was relaxing. But the main benefits I saw from the technique were no back pain and a lovely neat bump in Pregnancy, Isla being in the right position making the labour progress normally, and the ability to use movement as a pain relief."

    Laura Gibbons - Senior Product Manager - Yell

    Headaches and High Blood Pressure

    "I first went to see Irene Woodrow several years ago with high blood pressure and headaches. I have been having lessons regularly ever since and, not only have my problems eased, but my general sense of wellbeing is much improved. AT is not a "quick fix". You need to be patient and to unlearn bad habits that have become entrenched over the years. However, with Irene's skill and clear explanations AT has become part of my life. Although I do slip into old ways at times, I now have the knowledge and understanding to correct this and to be far more aware of my body. Regular visits to Irene keep this awareness active and help me to continue to develop a "thought-fulness" about the way I use my body, encouraging me to inhibit movements before making them. This has been invaluable in recovering from back and ligament injuries I have sustained.

    The Alexander Technique is not just a technique; it's a way of life. I have found it extremely beneficial in many ways, both physical and emotional. I always look forward to my lessons, knowing that I will come out feeling stronger, taller and more centred than when I went in! I wouldn't be without it."

    Sarah Bergson - Primary School Headteacher.



    I will take comprehensive notes and listen to why you are there and what you expect to get out of lessons with the Technique.

    I will look to see what you do when you are walking slowly (to check for balance). Also, sitting, standing, turning, moving your head, picking things up etc. I will look at the level of your pelvis, how your back is, and generally look to see how balanced you are. There is no form of criticism involved simply observing at what I can do as a teacher and the Alexander Technique to help you.

    I will explain to you what the Technique is and what it isn't. We will work with simple movements such as (sitting and standing) and how these can be accomplished using less effort employing natural balance and poise. Alexander technique hazeley cottageI will introduce you to a particular way of thinking which is integral to the Alexander Technique and by learning to put this into practise gives you a way to overcome habit and so allow you to be able to apply it to everyday activities and to improve performance in whatever activities you are interested in.

    You will not be required to remove any clothes, just your shoes. Just to wear comfortable clothing such as a tracksuit. Not tight jeans as they restrict movement. It is important to feel confident with the teacher as you are working on a one to one basis. I am there to help you. All you need to do is to be attentive to what is going on as I gently adjust your balance and co-ordination.

    I will also introduce you to to table work which provides a position for maximum rest for the spine and allows gravity to assist you to experience a better balance and how you should be when returning to the upright and can go a long way to alleviating back pain and tension.

    This introductory lesson lasts between one to one and a half hours and is designed to provide the pupil with a basic understanding of what the Technique involves and to allow me to note initial observations and background that will enable me to ally lessons towards the particular needs of the pupil. Lessons are supported by handouts.


    As with learning any skill, continuity assists the learning process. In lessons we are confronted by the force of habit and it is recommended that initially lessons should be at least weekly. This frequency, however is flexible depending the pupil and personal circumstances and can be discussed at the end of the Introductory Lesson. As the pupil becomes more at home with the principles the frequency can be reduced.

    The further lessons last for 40 minutes.and can be allied to pregnancy and to many sporting activites including running, riding, swimming, golf etc. I always teach pupils how to lift and introduce them to free released breathing as that was from where the Alexander Technique evolved.

    Alexander technique, Irene Woodrow Alexander technique, Irene Woodrow


    When taking part in a sport or active pastime, it is important to use yourself to your full potential while minimising the risk of injury. The increased awareness and stature that the technique can give you means that you can find that little bit extra when you most need it. Famous sportspeople who advocate the AT include Daley Thompson, John McEnroe and Matthew Pinsent


    The Alexander technique is taught in virtually all performing arts shcools in the UK, and many abroad Actors can learn how to obtain greater stage presence. The Alexander Technique is widely used by musicians who report less discomfort when playing and improved performance. With vocalists the voice gains greater power, clarity and range. Famous performers who advocate the technique include Sir Paul McCartney, Yehudi Menuhin, and John Cleese.


    Introductory & Assessment Lesson £45.00
    Single Lesson - £36.00
    Block of Five Lessons - £170.00 (£34 per Lesson) purchased in advance

    Contact me


    Mrs Irene Woodrow MSTAT, BHSI(Instr)
    Hazeley Cottage
    Nightingale Lane
    RG7 3PS

    Telephone: 0118 933 3406
    Mobile: 07900 506940


    For more information please contact me
    either by phone or by completing the form below.


    how to find us:

    Come into Nightingale Lane from the Lukins Wood side as the other end is very narrow. Hazeley Cottage is located about 500 yards down Nightingale Lane. It is the second entrance on the right with the red post box in the wall. Turn in and park in front of the garage.

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