Reflections on the work of David Moore combining Yoga and Alexander Technique.  Kay Cady

David Moore’s European tour 2023 is now complete. From June in Assisi, July in Dusseldorf, and August in Canterbury to his final Retreat on Dartmoor in Devon. David has successfully spent the summer spreading the word that AT and Yoga are compatible work and do in fact complement each other. The Devon Smart Yoga  Retreat comprised Yoga teachers, Alexander Technique teachers and those who are qualified to teach both Yoga and Alexander Technique. Also, participants who just enjoy both practices and wanted to explore them in depth.

Most of the Yoga and Alexander Technique I have practiced with David has been online, however in 2022 I travelled to Harrogate for a weekend workshop run by David. It was hosted by Marilyn Dean, a yoga and Alexander Technique teacher who has been following David for many years. The weekend was an enlightening experience for me, and I really wanted to offer Devon folk the opportunity to meet David and work with him. So, I organised and hosted the Dartmoor Retreat weekend for August 2023 at Brimpts Farm, Dartmeet, a spectacular part of Dartmoor and a perfect venue for the event.

Firstly, I witnessed David’s expertise in encouraging Yoga teachers to underpin their yoga teaching with the Alexander Technique, so that they could assist individuals to develop strength and flexibility within their own ability. They learned how to adapt/modify more traditional Asanas to meet the individual needs of each participant. Secondly I observed how David enabled doubting Alexander Technique teachers of the value of using modified asanas to help AT students on their quest for a healthier and more mobile existence. And lastly, a small group of my clients who practice both disciplines, joined the group and found great benefit in Davids ‘hands on’ direction. In addition, I found huge benefits for myself, not just my clients and I came away with new understanding and feeling more at ease both mentally and physically.

I recommend that you look out for the venue for David’s next tour of Europe, I know there is one planned again in Asissi 2024. For more information visit David’s website or email: info@alexanderschool.edu.au

One Alexander Technique teacher provided this extensive review of the weekend:

“I came to David’s weekend yoga retreat in Devon as a qualified Alexander Technique teacher who was interested in the idea of exploring yoga, underpinned by Alexander Technique principles. I have issues with my own neck, so I wanted to be careful not to do anything that would exacerbate my own pain and disability.

For the retreat, David had planned a comprehensive and well-structured timetable of manoeuvres (asanas) and activities for the group.
As he met, worked with and got to know the group, their needs, wishes, abilities and levels of experience, David was ever willing to change the activities to best accommodate the needs of individuals and the group as a whole.

During class, after explaining and demonstrating each movement or position, David would observe and attend to each member of the group to make sure they had understood the instructions, and he also suggested modifications, simplifications and advancements that were tailored to the needs and abilities of the individual. David was mindful about spending equal amount of time and attention to every member of the group.

On day one, David gave the group an introductory talk about his experiences of learning and working with yoga and the Alexander Technique, and his ongoing objective to intertwine the two disciplines in a harmonious manner. These are subjects to which David has spent a great deal of time and mindful attention and he has many interesting ideas, observations and activities to share.
I went into this workshop with not only excitement, but some reservation as to the benefits of working in this way. Like other Alexander Technique teachers on the course, I had been advised by my trainers against the discipline of yoga in general and some of the asanas in particular. Added to these fears was my ongoing issues with neck pain and limited mobility. I was wary, therefore about taking part in some of the movements.

However, my fear was soon alleviated. David was very careful about how he introduced the movements and gave clear guidance on how they could be done to maximise benefit and avoid the possibility of harm. He did this in such a way that I felt comfortable about exploring a wider range of activities than I thought I would. Instead of finding these movements aggravating to my condition, I found them easeful and improving of my mobility.

I came away from the workshop with many new possibilities for exploration and also many practical solutions and ideas. For instance, I have always found the classical Alexander Technique practice of lying down in semi-supine difficult as it tends to exacerbate the pain in my neck. David explored with me ways I could modify this procedure, for example by using a rolled-up blanket under my neck in place of books under my head which allowed my neck to maintain its natural curve and avoid the over straightening that regular semi supine imposes on my neck. This was a revelation to me and has transformed my semi-supine practice. I also found the suggestion to put cushions under my elbows in semi supine really useful. David gave myself and the others many such suggestions, and this also had the side-effect of encouraging me to think more exploratively about how I could experiment with and modify other activities to best suit myself or any individual I might be working with.

The setting was glorious, the accommodation and food were perfection itself and both David and Kay went out of their way to make us feel comfortable, welcome and able to raise any concerns, should there be any.

Thank you both for a memorable and transformative weekend, and I shall enjoy getting to know more about yoga and the work of both David & Kay,”

More thoughts from two more Alexander Technique teachers:

“Wow, Amazing work; I am ploughing through the Smart yoga book, which is fantastic! Clear writing, just like David’s verbal and manual instruction. I bent down to do something yesterday and I think there was a tiny bit more flexibility. My legs felt stronger on Tuesday and My partner said I looked nice and up!”
“I really enjoyed the workshop, including the opportunity to work powerfully within yoga and with Alexander directions. I managed more than I realised I was capable of, and it was great news for the leg I fractured. I learnt valuable information about anatomy by experiencing it in my body and came face-to-face for the first time with some of my less obvious (to me!) habits through the wall work. I also noticed a strong tendency to subtly come forward from the lower sternum/diaphragm. I might be on holiday, but I am practising inhibition with wall work”

And one Yoga and Alexander Technique teacher reports :

“David rotated my whole leg inwards while lying down doing belt work. I hadn’t, until then, realised my habit had been to rotate both legs outwards. I have been working with spirals inwards and that has changed my sitting.
When I left the Retreat to drive home, my eyesight was better. I think that was because of the meditation. I have meditated today and went on to teach a brilliant one to one lesson in the park. My friend Amy meditated at the edge of a lake. My understanding of the meditation and the subsequent hands on I gave was one of my best lessons ever. Thank you, David! Thank you for organising the weekend.
I noticed when I was in the park and ride today that although I felt I was leaning forward, my reflection in the window showed I was perfectly upright! I have to bring my elbows more forward too which has given me a real widening through the upper back. I am feeling energised by all this working on myself.”

And some comments from non-teaching participants

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself and found David a lovely teacher, his knowledge, expertise and the depth of his research shone through and was all delivered in his delightfully gentle and calm manner.

Here are my particular ‘light bulb moments’ from the weekend.
I asked David about my feeling that when sending the ribs back and pelvis forwards, I am bending forward on my top half (like a neanderthal!). I explained my sense that this must be squashing down on the organs, as opposed to creating space in the front. He explained that the important space is between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the iliac crests. This helped me and may have even solved my faulty sensory perception, because I could feel the space was still there even when my back was aligned along the wall.
It was helpful to understand how standing and moving in this way will also help the pelvic floor muscles and I could certainly feel the pelvic floor engaging.”

“I found the group dynamic really interesting, there was such a wealth of expertise and experience from both AT and yoga backgrounds – there were some pretty inspirational people to listen and learn from.
I loved the yoga and it made me realise how lucky we are to have you. Kay, passing on David’s teaching to us. I want to say a big thank you to you for introducing me to yoga, I enjoy it so much… and I didn’t really see that coming!”