What is the Alexander Technique?

The pace and pressure of modern life can be unrelenting.

Our attention is constantly drawn outside of ourselves, into dealing with the external world. But what happens to us as we move through our day? How much do we consider and care for the element which is constant: ourselves?

The Alexander Technique provides a way of reducing the strains on our
bodies and our being, to optimise our performance of the everyday, as well as of special skills.

Movement and postural patterns, comprising a person’s way of applying themselves in all their activities, may encompass compensatory maladaptations to earlier injuries, or other on-going (mal)adjustments, that generate strain and injury. It is precisely in unravelling these patterns that the Alexander Technique of neuromuscular re-education is invaluable. We all know about the desirability of relaxation, flexibility, good posture and the absence of tension. And yet despite our best intentions, despite relaxation classes, fitness classes and Eastern disciplines, we’re still tense and uncomfortable in our bodies, susceptible to stress, and often miscellaneous aches and pains. The Alexander Technique helps us to organise body awareness in a way that is useful to ourselves. It provides us with the knowledge we need in order to implement our good intentions.

The Alexander Technique uniquely combines the discipline of paying attention, with regard to our physical bodies, with non-doing intent.

The Alexander Technique has been helping people with a range of chronic and “intractable” problems since 1894. Research carried out over the last 50 years in the U.S.A., Great Britain, Denmark and Australia has confirmed subjective and empirical evidence that the Alexander Technique helps to reduce effort in movement, improve breathing efficiency and improve posture. It is a widely-used method, providing:

  • control, reduction, elimination of pain
  • self-directed long-term approach to muskulo-sleletal problems
  • movement therapy/re-education addressing posture, breathing
  • unique assessment of current movement patterns, and a unique, tailored program
  • improvement that becomes part of everyday life
  • a foundation for all fitness and therapeutic activities
  • a route to self-knowledge

How does it work?

The technique is directly concerned with the working of the “postural reflexes”, i.e. the processes that enable us to support and balance ourselves against the ever-present pull of gravity while we go about our daily activities.

Over the years most of us build tensions and distortions into our habitual way of being, which slip below the level of our conscious awareness. These produce ongoing restrictions to the working of our natural postural reflexes.

The role of the Alexander teacher is to use gentle manual guidance to help unravel distortions and encourage the natural reflexes to work again. As well, the teacher uses verbal instruction to help students become aware of their own pattern of interference and how to deal with it for themselves.

Hence the work can be described as educative.

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