Review of ‘Back in Balance’ by Richard Brennan

1960s School Uniform

1960s School Uniform (Photo credit: theirhistory)

It was with much anticipation that I waited for my copy of Richard Brennan’s new book ‘Back in Balance’. I had been asked to review it and as I have enjoyed and found helpful Richard’s other published books I was more than happy to receive a copy pre-publication to look over. 

Richard takes us into the world of Alexander and his teachings in many ways throughout this book. He talks about the history of Alexander’s teaching, how the Technique grew and became accepted in the medical world, what the Alexander Technique’s main principles are, peoples own experiences when learning the Technique, practical solutions to every day problems and many other topics. Richard writes in a very easy to read way so it was a very enjoyable task.

A couple of things jumped out at me having read the book. Firstly, I believe the book would be an invaluable resource to read at the same time as when someone is having Alexander Technique lessons. It gives another way to help understand the changes that happen when lessons are taking place. For my own learning I find it invaluable to be able to read about something even when I am experiencing it at first hand. ‘Back in Balance’ gives you information to explain the sort of changes you may be undergoing through having a series of lessons as well as enhancing what your Alexander Teacher is able to tell you when the lessons are in progress. Definitely a book for Alexander Teachers to recommend when taking on a new student.

Secondly, Richard talks about children. He discusses how they sit through the day on school chairs not fit for purpose (he also has advice for the adults too!) and how that and other things can effect their posture as they grow and become adults. I’ve dipped my toe in the water through writing my blog looking at whether the Alexander Technique can ever be accepted as a GP recommended treatment. My initial high hopes have been eroded and sadly I think we have a long way to go until the Alexander Technique is a recognised NHS treatment. Having read ‘Back in Balance’ it has made me think that a better way to introduce the general population to the benefits of learning the Technique would be to incorporate it into school children’s PE lessons. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be even recognised as the Alexander Technique. A program devised to teach children the main aspects of the Technique that they can then use in a practical way would be a education worth passing on. We teach children how to use computers, take part in sports, use their brains etc. How about teaching them to use their bodies in the most efficient way to reduce damage now and in the future? It must also be an easier task to introduce children to a new skill rather than to try to change ingrained habits of adults.

I will refer to ‘Back in Balance’ frequently. The stories at the end of the book are also truly inspirational. It took me a while to delve into that last chapter but once I did I was enthralled. The stories gave me renewed hope and certainty for my particular future centred in the Alexander Technique. 

I can only highly commend this book to anyone interested in finding out more about the Alexander Technique or those who are undergoing lessons. For Alexander teachers it gives them a resource to refer their students to and for school curriculum designers it can introduce them to the benefits that would result from bringing this important work of Alexander’s to the people who have a life time to gain from it.

One last thing…is there any way we can refer to Alexander’s work as something other than the Alexander Technique? This term suggests there is one thing we need to learn rather than the multifaceted approach of Alexander’s work. Conversely, we have Physics, Maths, PE, Games, English, History which are one words to describes whole disciplines….Can we also call Alexander’s immense body of work by one snappy word……….? Alexandernomics?

BACK IN BALANCE Richard Brennan

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