It was like watching a magic show. Aila Juvonen was introducing a class to the concepts of the Alexander Technique. She was working with a student, a woman in her sixties, lumbering and slow with painful knees that made walking difficult. Aila did something and suddenly the woman shot across the room walking smoothly and easily. When she reached the far wall the woman turned and her face expressed astonishment. She couldn’t believe what she had just done. None of us could. Except Aila of course.
For over twenty years Aila has helped people walk without pain, she’s helped singers mend their broken voices and sing without damaging them, people with bad backs, people with strokes regain hope, the list goes on.
But it was music that brought her to the Alexander Technique. While studying for a degree in music in California, she noticed the stress student performers were putting on their bodies while rehearsing for shows and knew something was wrong. She asked around and finally a professor mentioned the Alexander Technique.
She went to the library in search of books and found that all the books on the Alexander Technique were missing. Borrowed and never returned. It wasn’t until she moved with her new degree to Florida that she found what she was looking for. A book about the Alexander Technique, The Alexander Principle, that explained it all. She read the book from cover to cover twice. This was it. This is what she was going to do.
Aila is someone who doesn’t do things by halves. Everything becomes a passion and that is reflected in her life as a teacher and a learner. Her Alexander teaching has moved her towards Positive Psychology, her spiritual life has moved her towards Buddhism. You’ll have to ask her to explain that one!
The other is her wisdom. A lifetime of learning and exploring and observation, a religion that teaches loving-kindness has made her compassionate and wise.
I asked her where she wanted to be in five years time and she said teaching people all over the world. Teaching people that they have the ability to change if they desire to, teaching that we’re not molded into being who and what we are, old habits can be replaced by newer better ones. And one last thing, if you have a lesson with Aila (which I hope you will) and you don’t hear laughter (which comes as naturally as breathing to her and is just as essential for a healthy life) then that was not Aila and you must report the fake.
Ann Mercer, Sept. 2015