What is it, why have lessons and who has them? What are the benefits and how does it work?
What Is It?
The Alexander Technique is a well-established and powerful way of dealing with physical and mental tension. It helps us understand and change old habits and establish new ones - allowing us to function better in our daily lives.
As we learn to use our bodies better, our posture improves and activities become easier. Old aches and pains subside. We become more able to cope with stress; more aware of, and able to control, our reactions.
The Alexander Technique leaves us free to pursue our goals effectively, and with less damage to ourselves.
Why Do We Need It?
Most young children have natural poise and alertness. They sit, stand, walk and run without strain. But as we grow older changes often occur in our postural behaviour - brought on by injury, illness, shock, or psychological influences. Many of us develop patterns of response that interfere with our natural co-ordination. We find ourselves moving and reacting in ways that undermine our physical and mental well-being.
Force of habit means we have learnt to 'misuse' our bodies. In particular, the subtle relationship between muscles in the head, neck and back often becomes distorted. This puts the whole body under strain and may cause a variety of symptoms. Yet, understanding how these problems arose in the first place is often difficult.
The Alexander Technique helps us recognise old habits and then break free from them. It teaches us new ways of doings things and, consequently, how to improve the quality of our lives.
Who Has Alexander Lessons?
All sorts of people - musicians, actors, singers, sports people; teachers, parents, factory workers, lawyers; gardeners, office staff and students. Children can have lessons to avoid developing bad habits in the first place; and many people start in retirement (it's never too late to learn!). Almost everyone can gain from learning the Technique.
What are the Benefits?
You don't need a problem to benefit from Alexander lessons. Nevertheless, it's found to be helpful with:
- Back, neck & joint pain
- Muscle tension
- Improved mobility
- General health & fitness
- Improved posture
- Balance, poise & coordination
- Posture at a computer
- Breathing & use of the voice
- Personal confidence
- Presentation skills
- Performance anxiety & stage fright
- Anxiety & stress
- Clarity & calmness of mind
- Performance in music, drama & sport
- Pregnancy & childbirth
How Is It Taught?
AT is a process of adjusting the way the body moves, developing self-awareness, and understanding certain principles. One of these principles is the 'head-neck-back relationship', which Alexander called 'the Primary Control'.
Initially, an Alexander teacher guides you through basic movements or positions such as sitting and standing, progressing to more complex actions and, along the way, you begin to gain insight into the nature of your habits, leading in turn to greater choice of habit.
This learning process normally occurs on a physical level through the gentle guidance of the teacher's hands - but learning also takes place on a mental level, so verbal explanations and discussion are equally important.
Traditionally the Technique is taught individually, enabling the teacher to give personal attention in some detail. But learning can also take place in a group setting or online.
For further details see the other pages on this site, or look at the website of my professional organisation, www.alexandertechnique.co.uk