Recently I had a total knee replacement. Pre-pandemic I studied the Alexander Technique with Lauren Hill for a couple of years via community education classes and one-on-one private lessons. During the pandemic, Lauren taught classes online which I found helpful to continue incorporating the Alexander Technique methods into my everyday movements.
Flash forward to today, one-month post-knee surgery. Physical therapy is hard. However, by practicing the Alexander Technique methods that I learned from Lauren, my PT progress is ahead of schedule. My physical therapist has made comments such as:
“Wow, I don’t have to teach you how to stand up from sitting. You already know how to do that.”
“I can tell you are really thinking about how you move your body. You move slowly and deliberately.”
“You seem to have a good understanding about retraining your brain to walk again.”
All of these things I learned from Lauren about how to use the Alexander Technique to move my body with less effort. Using balance to stand up with ease. Doing a body sweep to be aware of how each body part is behaving. Telling my brain, I can do this, even when my brain tells me otherwise.
Lauren is a wonderful teacher. She is patient, and kind and gives her full attention to her students. I give credit to Lauren and the teachings of the Alexander Technique for helping me with a speedy recovery from surgery.
Kathy Johnson, St. Paul, MN
I’ve worked with Lauren over a number of years, starting and stopping several times. But I turned 70 recently, and problems with my lower back brought a new urgency to seeing her again. I had spent many years with my head tilted down. Lauren’s work is getting me to bring my head up. Over the last several months, walking tall with my head more directly over my spine is becoming a new habit. Not only is my lower back pain very much diminished, but it feels like just walking is an effortless, beneficial exercise for my whole body I feel like I’ve got my height back, and…I like the view from up here!
Liz Anderson, retired librarian and avid gardener
When I began working with Lauren Hill a year ago, my greatest physical challenge was not being able to sit comfortably for any period of time because of neck and shoulder pain. I could not sit in a car comfortably and had given up the idea of road travel. I could walk a half mile without great neck discomfort but not farther. Now I can sit and write for blocks of time, with some breaks. I can comfortably do road trips. And I can walk 4 miles or more. In addition, I’m able to climb a hill near my home. What a difference a year makes! I continue to do the constructive rest, and I find myself increasingly able to pay attention to how I’m using my body, to relax more, to remember to allow my head to gently reposition and relieve the pressure on my spine. The wonderful directive to practice doing less has been fun and so instructive in helping me continue to feel healthier. Lauren’s skill and humor and kindness are amazing.
Gerri Buchanan, writer, St. Paul, MN
My husband and I have worked together with Lauren for about a year, taking a shared weekly lesson. We originally started learning the Alexander Technique to help my husband decrease chronic neck and shoulder pain. He has had relief as a result of working with Lauren, but I’ve also benefited and learned about my own habits that cause me discomfort. We’ve both improved and learned a lot and enjoy our shared lessons together with Lauren. An added benefit of doing our lessons together is that we can support and encourage each other to practice the techniques Lauren has taught us. Each lesson has been fun, educational, therapeutic and applicable to so many areas of our lives.
Mary Hanson, Bloomington, MN
The best investment I am making in myself at the age of 73 is taking lessons from Lauren Hill in the Alexander Technique. I am learning the skills I need to live as comfortably and skillfully as possible in a body that has limitations. It is not too late to develop habits that lessen pain and increase flexibility.
Nancy McNeff, Becketwood Cooperative, Minneapolis, MN
I became acquainted with Lauren and the Alexander Technique through an introductory group class held through St. Paul Community Education. I was intrigued and decided to continue working with Lauren one-on-one. She has taught me to apply the principles of the technique while on my yoga mat, sitting at my computer, and working in the kitchen. I love that I can matter-of-factly ask myself if I could do less of an unhelpful action, or even just less in general, and immediately feel the release in my body – sometimes just where I expect it, and sometimes not. Lauren is an excellent, thoughtful teacher who tailors each lesson to the individual student and what they need most at that time. I recommend her to anyone interested in learning to live with more ease.
Deborah Derringer, college administrator, yogini, and avid home cook
There have been many areas that I have requested help with over the past two and a half years of lessons. When I started I was the primary caregiver for my elderly mother which involved a lot of stress and physical work. I am a professional flutist and have had ongoing muscle tension in my neck, jaw, and shoulders for years. Plus as I have gotten older my right knee pain has flared up due to an injury many years ago.
Results: getting up and down off the floor effectively, going up and down stairs without pain, walking without being stiff, sitting and standing with ease, pausing throughout the day to regroup, just feeling more natural and at ease overall in everyday activities…
We adjusted my sitting and standing position for playing flute so that I now have a more graceful, natural lifting of my arms when I play. How I use and feel my torso and shoulders to breathe for playing my flute has changed as well.
Regular lessons really make it work. I do all right on my own, but then I come to a lesson and Lauren fine-tunes it and moves me further along. It is an ongoing process of discovery that is actually quite fun!
Peggy Doerrie, flute instructor and performer
(read Peggy’s full story)
I first came to Lauren to see if the Alexander Technique could help me with recurring wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain caused by my time spent at the computer. It only took a few lessons for the pain to stop. I discovered the Technique could help with much more and continued with lessons. Lauren helped me to recognize habits I couldn’t identify on my own, like trying to sit up straight by tightening my back (ouch!). Under her insightful guidance, I developed the skills to take care of myself. I’ve learned that the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and back pain I’ve experienced are not inevitable consequences of having a desk job. This has been so empowering! I’m now confident I can use daily constructive rest and other Alexander skills to live a healthy, active life, and not be limited by misuse injuries.
Heather Collen, St. Paul, MN
I began Alexander classes with Lauren after developing a variety of aches and pains caused, or at least aggravated by, decades of unhelpful postural habits. I was hoping that the Technique would help minimize these and was excited to find that it helped considerably. That alone would have made me a strong adherent of the Technique. But what I got that I hadn’t expected proved even more valuable. I came to see that that direction was more helpful than trying to force myself into what I thought, often mistakenly, was good posture. I learned that awareness of the body (internally and externally) can create a pause that allows me to choose whether to respond in habitual or healthier ways. This has had a positive effect on a wide range of my day to day activities including sitting, standing, walking, lying down, driving, canoeing etc. Though I still experience my share of tension, I also experience much more ease since starting my lessons. Lauren is a gifted teacher whose enthusiasm for the Technique, skill in tailoring it to the individual and dedication to continuing education is inspiring. Working with her has been an invaluable gift.
Nancy, St. Paul, MN
I started taking lessons with Lauren in an attempt to unlock chronic tension patterns that cause severe headache and neck ache. Right away I loved constructive rest, and having a “prescribed” time to stretch out and do almost nothing! A huge surprise was that what I think of as standing straight – shoulders back and chin up – is really not straight at all. Instead, a true upright stance is about balance and volume. But the concept that really rocked my world is this: I can ask myself not to squeeze my neck! No stress or judgment about it, it’s just “an ask!” Revolutionary! Finally, many of my life lessons have had to do with learning to pause, and the Alexander Technique is a lovely reinforcement of that. Lauren shared this wonderful quote with me: Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom—Victor Frankl
Nona Haller, St. Paul, MN
Lauren is an amazing and gifted teacher. Her own practice of the Alexander Technique constantly informs her teaching. In the three years I’ve been taking lessons, I have experienced marked improvements in awareness, flexibility, release of muscle tension, freer movement, and increased endurance. Our work together helped me recover fully from a lower back injury a year ago. I use the Technique in a much more integrated way now in all my daily activities and love the interactive nature of the lessons so much I don’t plan to stop any time soon.
Julie Williams, author and artist
Studying the Alexander Technique with Lauren Hill was an invaluable experience for me. Her approach is accepting, honest, personal, and perceptive, and I feel I now have a strong fundamental understanding of the Technique. Studying the Technique has opened so many doors to me, helping me to understand myself better and to overcome the challenges, both mental and physical, of being a full-time musician.
Karen Kim, violinist
Studying Alexander Technique with Lauren Hill has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Lauren helped me to develop a practice of turning my attention to how I am holding my own body throughout the day. Since practicing Alexander technique, my neck and back pain have disappeared, and when they threaten to return I know exactly how to respond. I enjoy the benefits of Alexander technique when I tell stories, preach, teach aikido, and mostly as I simply move throughout my day.
Kristin Maier, minister, storyteller, and aikido teacher
I came to the Alexander Technique when I was at a crossroads. I was frustrated with my posture and alignment, often feeling uncomfortable and awkward. I was tired of looking and feeling awkward on stage as well. After a year with Lauren I feel completely different. In my daily life, I notice much less discomfort and awkwardness. And I am often told how strong and relaxed my posture looks, and that I look confident and expressive on stage. I never received comments like this before my work with Lauren! The Alexander Technique also helped me stay vocally and physically healthy through a grueling audition season and several major performances. My voice teacher was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t hindered by fatigue or illness this year. Reflecting on the past year, studying with Lauren has helped me achieve some of my long-term performance goals. I enjoy the music-making process more than I did before, and I feel more in touch with myself as a person and an artist. The Alexander Technique has positively changed the way I perform as a musician and how I feel every day.
William Goforth, tenor, St. Olaf grad and student at the Julliard School
I’ve suffered from low back pain for years. Since I started studying the Alexander Technique with Lauren, I seldom experience any low back pain. I have learned to practice Constructive Rest every day. It’s amazing how lying flat on the floor relaxes and rejuvenates the back. I have also learned how to bend at the hip joints, rather than the waist. This has been miraculous in terms of relieving strain on my low back during everyday activities (cleaning, laundry, etc.). I have also learned to pay more attention to my habits. Like many of us, I was taught to “stand up straight”. In my case, this evolved into puffing out my chest (like a peacock) and raising my chin and eyes to feel taller. Lauren has helped me to pay attention to these habits and to adopt postures that are more relaxed and filled with ease.
Marcie S., St. Paul, MN
Of all the avenues of healing I have tried in dealing with my neck and arm issues – lighter weight musical instruments, stretching routines, chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, Rolfing, energy work – the Alexander Technique feels the best. Through my lessons with you I have learned to listen to my body in ever-increasing ways and to release muscle tension from places I had no idea I was holding it.
Chris Johnson, musician
We are our own worst enemies. We all have habits and tendencies which prevent us from moving with ease and grace. Studying with Lauren has helped me identify my bad habits and replace them with better habits. Lauren and the Alexander Technique have made a large, positive change in all aspects of my life.
Charlie Leavitt, Mendota Heights, MN
One of the best things that I have ever done for my health and general well being is to study the Alexander Technique. I am 66 years old and although I feel quite healthy, I do have osteoporosis and arthritis. I have had several bad habits such as ignoring pain and pushing myself to do more and work harder than I should. In the 15 months that I have worked with Lauren I have learned some ways of positioning my body that have led to less pain and more comfort. Thinking before I act, and relaxing more have led to better posture and body alignment. I also have learned that subtle change in body position is powerful. People who have seen me lately have commented that I look unusually well. This gives me more confidence. Lauren is a very good teacher. She is so good at explaining and demonstrating the techniques. I feel especially grateful to Lauren because in the time I have been studying with her my best friend was receiving treatment for cancer and she has since died. Lauren was so helpful to me in teaching me to care for myself better so I could care for my friend. Lauren’s support when Karen died was invaluable too. When I told my brother about the Alexander Technique he started taking lessons from Lauren too. We both love it.
Sharon Hogenson, retired social worker
I was unaware that I had developed destructive ways of moving, sitting and standing. These “habits” were causing reoccurring pain. With Lauren and the Alexander Technique, I have learned that I have a choice not to follow “my habits”. There are different choices out there that are better for me and my body and I can choose them.
Lorre Thompson, PT
I am so grateful to have learned of the Alexander Technique and to Lauren for being the wonderful practitioner she is. I came to Lauren’s studio because I had read of the Alexander Technique in a health newsletter and wanted to see if it could be of help in managing lower back problems. Two and a half years later, I continue with lessons because I have found the practice of the Technique has made a positive difference not only with my back problems, but also in how I live my life. As I reflect on why this is so, the answer that comes to my mind is the Alexander Technique has helped me develop an awareness of how to change unproductive habits to productive ways of moving and using my body in–to name some–walking, sitting, standing, sleeping, brushing my teeth, exercising, even in how I breathe! My lessons with Lauren have also made me aware of the ways stress and tension can negatively impact on how I move and use my body. I attribute the peaking of my awareness to the consummate teaching efforts of Lauren. Every lesson is a wonderful experience because Lauren makes it so personal to my specific needs and is always honoring of any questions I may have, patently taking time to answer them. As a former educator, I am aware of what excellence in teaching looks like, and Lauren definitely exemplifies it! Thanks, Lauren, for all your continuing efforts in my behalf.
Lorrie Miller Kohler, retired educator
Lauren and the Alexander Technique taught me some things about how I was using my body that I never knew before. I came to her after seeing numerous Physical Therapists, chiropractors, and doctors for back and neck pain. None of them taught me how I was using my body in ways that contributed to unnecessary tension. Lauren showed me in a very gentle, non-threatening way how to use my body in easier ways that would help me feel better.
Myra Arnold, Montessori Teacher
The Alexander Technique has given me power over my body in ways that amaze me! Instead of needing medications, masseuses, or physical therapists, I can make a difference in how I feel all by myself by using the techniques Lauren has taught me. I use the Constructive Rest daily to rejuvenate myself. I find I am no longer tense, impatient, or bored when waiting in traffic or standing in line or stuck at a dull event. I just turn my mind to the Alexander Technique and use the time to feel better! The personal power the Alexander Technique brings to my health is wonderful! Best of all, it can be done pretty much anytime and anywhere!
Naomi Peterson, retired elementary school teacher
I’ve learned through Lauren and the Technique that despite the pace of daily life, pausing to evaluate the small movements I’d usually ignored or taken for granted has resulted in simple shifts in my body’s awareness and overall health. The lessons have been fundamentally eye-opening and fun.
Mike Carina, product designer/illustrator
The Alexander Technique helped me in more ways that I had initially hoped. I started taking lessons with one goal in mind: to improve my piano technique. What I learned was that everything I was doing outside of playing the piano had an impact on my technique at the piano. Lauren taught me in a gentle and non-threatening way how to intelligently “let go” of muscle tension and how to use my body in the most efficient and effective way in daily activities. This whole body approach assisted me in letting go of any tension I had in my practice and piano performances. The results of my lessons were extremely positive – I not only improved my piano technique but I learned how to relieve tension and avoid injury in every area of my life. I am very grateful to Lauren for her patience and knowledge in teaching me!
Suzanne Greer, Suzuki piano instructor
I came to Lauren because I was experiencing severe neck, shoulder, and back pain. Two years later, I have gained a variety of tools that have led to reduced pain and to a real change in the way that I live my life. Constructive rest, Alexander Technique directions, and focused breathing techniques are now a daily part of my life. Perhaps best of all, I have gained the acute awareness that I have been living my life as though it were a race, and have begun to understand in a deep way how that has contributed to the pain I have been experiencing. That awareness has led to changes that have made me happier, healthier, and more productive in work and play. I continue to learn from using the Technique and am grateful for Lauren’s gentle, effective, and encouraging teaching style.
Hannah Texler, plant ecologist, St. Paul, MN
I originally came to Lauren because of a persistent neck ache that was not yielding to yoga, to chiropractic, or to trigger point therapy. After a few sessions, it mysteriously disappeared. We continued our work for another year, as it gave me deeper insights into my own patterns of posture and movement, and it continues to inform my own yoga practice and my work as a yoga teacher. I recommend the technique and Lauren to many of my students.
Maggie Kessell, Founder, Riverbend Yoga
Wow, what I discovered about my movement and my body while working with Lauren has been an amazing experience. The Alexander Technique is a tool that allows me to connect internally and intuitively with my body. Bringing greater understanding to the physiology or function of my body and my personal approach to health. As a Yoga Instructor I felt connected to my internal self, however, the natural poise I was born with had been altered to suit my practice. Little did I realize until studying with Lauren, that she has a natural ability to reveal one to oneself through her skill as an Alexander Technique practitioner. I experienced humor (laughing at my posture discoveries while following Lauren’s adroit directions) and wonderful sense of being in my body with poise and release. The phrase I carry with me is…”thinking is enough” meaning thinking about the direction is enough. I would encourage anyone who is aging or has experienced the loss of a loved one to find support in Lauren’s skill as an Alexander Technique teacher in developing a sense of well being for yourself. Surely, she is doing the work she was born to do.
Kate McGown, Ed.D.; E-RYT Saint Paul College
To me the wonderful thing about studying and applying the Alexander Technique is that it allows you to use your body as nature intended – freely and without unnecessary muscle tension. The Technique can be applied to all aspects of life from sitting and standing to athletics and even to your attitude about life and the choices you have. Understanding the Technique empowers you to improve your life at every level.
Erika Zetty, St. Paul, MN
For years I had suffered with tension headaches and other painful postural issues that I never realized could be corrected by just paying attention to my body. Over the years, I’d tried everything and learned to just rely on pain relievers as the solution. I had many bad habits well ingrained into my physical behavior. Finding them and learning to release them through the Alexander Technique was like a revelation. I always looked forward to my visits with Lauren. She had such a calming effect on me and through her direction; I really grasped what the Technique was all about. I wish she could visit me at the office every day just to help me relax! I still have work to do, but it’s work I know I can accomplish because I am essentially the tool for keeping my posture healthy. It’s an approach that makes so much sense; it’s a shame that some parts of the medical community don’t encourage people to try alternative and practical approaches like the Alexander Technique for being healthier. I am truly thankful to Lauren and to my doctor for referring me!
Betsy Mowry, St. Paul, MN
My study of Alexander Technique with Lauren has not only had a beneficial impact on the state of my body, but it’s also made a difference in my thinking. Alexander Technique taught me simple self-direction, allowing space and time to make a different choice, rather than respond out of habit. These choices made a huge and unanticipated difference in how my body felt, and pains were relieved that I had come to accept as inevitable. Just as valuable was the way that making choices about movement filtered into making other sorts of decisions. The thought process you engage with the Alexander Technique can be applied to other situations, and it gave me more space and possibility in life situations. Best of all, the Alexander Technique has such wonderful benefits, but it never feels complicated or frustrating.
Suzanne Wiltgen, dancer/choreographer
I continued with Alexander Technique on a regular basis for two years after I began with Lauren in March 2006. I continued with this, because I was able to maintain the relaxation and the balance for longer periods of time after each lesson. I could feel the improvement after each lesson. My last two pain issues were in my hips and shoulders, but that pain finally went away too. Since I had misused my muscles for 65 years before I began the Alexander Technique, I think it took more time for the muscles and bones to change to proper alignment. I’m glad I stayed with it, and I’m glad I can also go back to a certified Alexander Technique teacher when I need to. I haven’t taken any pain medication since two or three months after I began learning the Technique. Many of the things I learned have now become habit, so I’m hoping that my changes will be permanent. My big test came this summer when I went to England from May through August 19. I had occasions when my muscles tightened and I experienced some slight pain. However, I had the tools to calm myself and relax to get back on track. I still feel fine after sitting in airports and airplanes for many hours on end at the beginning and end of my journey as well as sleeping in some beds that were not very comfortable. I would have to say that the Alexander Technique was not a “quick fix” for me, but it changed my body structure and taught me better ways to handle myself. I had massages for about 20 years, and they never took the pain away for more than a couple days.
Gloria Maurer, Monroe, WI
I had hip replacement surgery 17 months ago. After the surgery, my neuromuscular system was still programmed to walk as I did before the surgery—a slightly awkward gait that I had developed to compensate for the bad hip. Lauren, who is my daughter, suggested Alexander lessons as a way of reprogramming my neuromuscular system so that I would walk the way my body is designed to walk. Both Lauren and I were not sure that my taking lessons from her, which would be a role reversal for us, would work. However, we decided to give it a try. It worked very well. My lessons with Lauren straightened out my gait. They also taught me to use my body the way it is designed to be used in other activities. Lauren is an excellent teacher. I recommend her highly.
Robert N. Hill, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Delaware
What lead me to learn the Alexander Technique was to improve my posture. Over the course of a year, my posture did improve but what was more valuable to me, was to learn to consciously use my body with less strain to perform everyday activities like standing, walking, sitting, using my computer, driving, brushing my teeth and getting out of bed. As I became more aware of how to move, I came to my private lessons armed with questions on how I could best do something I was working on that week–like a particular yoga move or how to best ride my new bike. I really enjoyed working with Lauren as she is a very interesting person. As a teacher, I really admire that she was always patient and flexible in addressing my particular needs.
Bonnie McGrath, Edina, MN
Before coming to Lauren and the Alexander Technique, I tried nearly everything to heal my chronic neck and back pain. Massage, Rolfing, CranioSacral therapy, reiki…you name it, I tried it. But nothing helped in the long term, because the root cause of my problem–poor body use–wasn’t being addressed. Lauren taught me to relax away from many of my old habits of tension and strain, and to use my body in a more natural, effortless way. Even though my lessons are over now, I continue to use the Technique daily to keep pain at bay and increase my body awareness. Lauren is an amazing teacher, her classes are more than fairly priced, and her quiet and comfortable studio is the perfect place to study the Technique.
Stephanie Watson, St. Paul, MN
I’m 58 years old and I’ve always known that my chronic back pain was made worse by my poor posture. My self-conscious efforts to “correct” my posture only made things worse. Learning from Lauren how to be actively aware of what I’m doing with my body leads me to stop hurting myself and let the directions to do their magic. When I catch myself unconsciously clenching the muscles in my back or gripping my steering wheel, I am more and more able to let it fall away. An added pleasure is the compliments I am getting about my appearance. My lessons with Lauren are an important part of my life now. When the “click” happens— the flowing interchange between mindfulness and release—I experience a peaceful ease that makes me feel that everything is possible.
Kris Jacobs, Executive Director, JOBS NOW Coalition
My work with Lauren has helped me to become much more aware of the tension I habitually carry in my body—in my hips, in the normal posture of my head, neck, and back, even in the way I walk. I now feel more at home, more aware, and less stressed in my body, which definitely contributes to more ease in my life, in general.
Katy Taylor, St. Paul, MN
When I was first unintentionally “led” to the Alexander Technique, I thought I was going to get a massage. Instead, I got rid of cramps in my calves that had nagged me for years, by simply learning how to walk differently. This enormous change in the feeling of “freedom” in my legs led me to regular lessons. Since regular lessons have begun, I have whole days of no pain, even given the fact that I have end-stage arthritis in my knee, rotator cuff tear in shoulder and herniated disk in neck. (Not to mention the autoimmune disorder of psoriatic arthritis that creates inflammation throughout my body). The Alexander Technique is life-changing for me, in that I know there is an alternative to more scalpels and drugs; that by taking control of my movements I can learn to move consciously and STOP exacerbating the injuries and conditions inside my body, that causes them to hurt more than they should. I am learning to adapt, watch myself from the inside out, and create new habits that in the long run will extend my life, my liver and give me hope of not spending my last 20 years or so, in constant pain. The idea that I may ultimately avoid several surgeries (after more than I can count)…gives me a hope that is indescribable.
Chris McMahon, Director of Market Research, State of Minnesota
When I first started working with Lauren I was interested in relieving some low back pain and finding out how my habits and movement perpetuated the problem. During the course of our sessions I gained not only an awareness of my movement and physical habits but also a greater awareness of how I approach things in general. Lauren is a gifted teacher. Her use of the Alexander Technique is subtle and powerful.
Kathleen Behrens, photographic stylist/artist
Working with Lauren has been an extraordinary experience. The Alexander Technique is a revolutionary tool that allows my body the freedom to function in the way it was designed. As a Sign Language Interpreter I am a prime candidate for problems such as chronic back pain and Carpal Tunnel which frequently terminates the career of an interpreter. Now I not only have the solution to my back pain, but a way of thinking that is applicable to my whole self. By following the Alexander Technique principles I am able to continue to do what I love with ease. I feel free and empowered.
Gretta Hillestad, CI/CT sign language interpreter
Despite many traditional treatments over two decades, my back pain remained. Then I met Lauren Hill, and learned the Alexander way of movement. Through her careful, knowledgeable teaching, I learned how to sit, stand, walk and bend over without any back strain. She is a gentle and gifted teacher and I recommend her to anyone who wants to consciously move the body with ease and freedom from distress.
Susan Steiner, executive assistant, University of Minnesota
The Alexander Technique really taught me what was causing my chronic back pain. After I began learning the Technique, my massage therapist noted that the muscles were much less tense. The Technique really got to the source of my problems, not just as a quick fix or “band-aid,” but as a treatment with long term results.
Joanna Carina, graphic designer