The Alexander Technique is a skill that may be learned to improve movement, coordination, and posture. You learn to take care of yourself in every activity.
It can help to:
- Relieve and prevent back, neck and limb pain, headaches and other muscular-skeletal problems
- Reduce tension in activities that are repetitive and/or strenuous such as bending, lifting, or typing
- Improve performance in skilled activities such as dance, music, acting, or sport
- Manage stress, improve well being and self understanding
- Restore freedom of movement after an accident or chronic illness.
Our bodies are brilliantly designed, many of our problems from depression, to back pain, to voice loss, occur because we don’t allow our bodies to function in the way they were designed. The process of not interfering with the natural way you use your voice, walk, dance, play a musical instrument etc, is a skill that can be learned through the Alexander Technique.
Tension in our bodies be it physical or mental, requires more energy to move. If you use more muscular effort than is necessary, the effect is to often stiff joints, undue fatigue and even pain.
The Alexander Technique is a means of eliminating unnecessary tension while learning to move in an easier more effective way.
What happens in a lesson?
The Alexander Teacher is working with you to give your body a new experience of how it works, connects and moves. So a section of an Alexander lesson will involve body mapping.
The relationship between the head and the spine determines the co-ordination of the whole body. The way you allow the weight of your body onto the earth, through your feet, is also crucial in how effectively the body functions. You learn to co-operate with the design of your whole body, and then it can serve you more effectively in ease of movement and freedom of breath.
The end product of an Alexander lesson is to give you a new experience which helps you recognise patterns of tension in your body. As you learn to let go of this tension you often experience a lightness of movement, because the way you use your body determines how well it works, how clearly you think, and how good you feel.
During a lesson you will also explore the power of your thinking, the thoughts you have when you are thinking about the changes you may wish for your body will determine how effective the change can be. How you apply the Alexander Technique is primarily with the power of your thinking, and so with the teacher you will explore the language that is most useful to invite or allow your body to function in a more useful way. It needs to be positive.
Can anyone do it?
Absolutely. A willingness to change is the only requirement. There are no age, shape, or gender barriers to the Alexander Technique.
It truly is for everybody.
Is Alexander Against exercise?
No, we are not against exercise. It is likely that after a series of Alexander lessons you will find exercise more pleasurable and beneficial. We’re more concerned that you don’t misuse or overstrain yourself. A number of top athletes include regular Alexander lessons in their strategies.
Do I have to stop going to my physiotherapist or chiropractor?
Alexander Teachers are not competing with other practitioners. In fact, there is healthy cross-referral. With a series of Alexander lessons, you will become better able to monitor your own condition—you become a better self manager. As you begin to change your habits you may avoid those injury pitfalls.
How many lessons will I need?
A few lessons will make definite changes, but we’re dealing with the habits of a lifetime. In order to maintain change a series of 10 to 20 lessons are recommended.
Do I have to take my clothes off?
No. Loose comfortable clothing should be worn. You will spend half the lesson lying on your back with your knees flexed.
The method was devised in the 19th Century by Frederick Matthias Alexander, a Australian actor who was affected by vocal and breathing problems. Seeking a cure he watched himself in the mirror, reciting Shakespearean sonnets, and found the answer appeared to lie in his posture. He had to re-educate both body and mind, to resist his instincts and learn new behaviour.
Today the Alexander Technique is taught and respected in 31 countries. Qualified teachers of the technique have completed a three year training course, certified by the Australian Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique AUSTAT, one of its international affiliates, or Alexander Technique International.
A study into The Alexander Technique and back pain
A 2008 UK study into the affect of The Alexander Technique on back pain and medical care found that ..."massage, lessons in the Alexander technique, and an exercise prescription all provided benefits to patients over a 12 month period." and that "...a series of six lessons in the Alexander technique combined with an exercise prescription was the most effective and cost effective option for the NHS [in reducing the cost of back pain]."