Alexander Technique Overview
The Alexander Technique is a method that teaches people how to sit, stand and go about their daily activities without unnecessary tension. Using a combination of verbal instructions and very gentle guidance with their hands, Alexander Technique teachers show their students how they can recognize and release restricting habits of posture and movement.
A Universal Technique
Alexander teachers help their students learn to do whatever they are already doing as easily and efficiently as possible. The Alexander Technique is concerned almost exclusively with process – with how a student performs an activity not what they do. There are no “Alexander exercises”, although the Technique will help students exercise more efficiently and with less risk of injury.
Alexander teachers work with students of all ages and backgrounds. Many are drawn to the Technique because of its reputation for helping people who are suffering from backaches, stiff necks and shoulders, carpal tunnel syndrome and the like. The Alexander Technique is also widely used by performers to improve the quality of their playing, singing, dancing and acting.
Alexander teachers are not doctors and do not diagnose diseases. The Alexander Technique cannot help with every type of pain. However, when pain is caused by harmful tension, Alexander lessons can be very effective in showing students how to release that tension, and the pain it causes. Releasing unnecessary tension also allows a performer’s talents to be fully and freely expressed.
F. Matthias Alexander
The Technique is based on the discoveries of F. Matthias Alexander (1869-1955).
Alexander’s fundamental discovery was that it is possible to improve the way we function by learning to direct our thoughts in accordance with the realities of our physical structure. Long before “mind-body” approaches became fashionable, and using very simple experimental procedures, Alexander came to understand that mind and body are really just two aspects of ourselves and that we can generate immediate and observable improvements in our physical functioning by changing our mental intentions.
Relearn Graceful Movement
The Technique assumes that students have within them the innate ability to move with grace and efficiency – the qualities they almost always had as small children. For a variety of reasons, this ability often becomes compromised as people grow older by harmful, unconscious, patterns of posture and movement. The fundamental purpose of Alexander Technique lessons is not to give students new things to do but rather to show them how they can learn to stop creating tension patterns that are getting in their way. This represents a fundamental difference between the Alexander Technique approach to fitness and that of most other methods.