The Alexander Technique

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 stereotyped responses - and so allows us to make better use of ourselves.

As we learn to use our bodies more efficiently, so our posture improves and we start to move more easily. 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.

The Technique can be used in many activities.

Why Do We Need It?

As young children, we have natural poise and alertness. We 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.

Why Do People Start Lessons?

Balance is an important aspect of the Alexander Technique

Our bodies and minds work in concert to make us what we are; that is, they act as an integrated system. But once we lose our natural balance, or poise, we feel somehow "out of touch". We may be tired and lack vitality, or find ourselves unable to relax. Or we may experience specific symptoms such as a stiff neck or shoulders, backache, or headaches.

Because our bodies and minds are so closely interrelated, this lack of physical poise can also affect our state of mind - making us anxious or depressed, and generally less able to cope with life.

Who Has Alexander Lessons?

All sorts of people have benefited from the Alexander Technique. Many musicians, actors, singers and sports people recommend the Technique as an aid to improved performance. There are benefits, too, for people in everyday life: from teachers, parents, factory workers and lawyers to gardeners, office staff and students. Almost everyone can gain from learning the Technique.

How Is It Taught?

The Alexander Technique is usually taught on a one-to-one basis. An Alexander teacher will use both verbal instruction and gentle guidance with his or her hands to help you achieve better balance and co-ordination. By learning to recognise and reduce excessive muscular tension, the body's own postural mechanisms are allowed to work without interference.

As you become aware of how you use your body, your teacher will show you how to avoid bad habits of posture or movement. Once you recognise these old patterns, you can learn consciously to avoid them. With the teacher's guidance, you'll regain natural responses and relearn the proper ways of doing things. As well as having a therapeutic effect, these improvements should free you to take up new challenges in life.

The Technique can help with a healthy sitting posture.