What is the Alexander Technique?
“Change involves carrying out an activity against the habit of Life” F M Alexander
Expect the Alexander technique to be Life changing: freedom of movement, freedom from pain, improved alertness, able to learn again, improved confidence, better health, improved breathing, inner calmness.
The Alexander Technique teaches the skilful "use of the self": how we move, how we stay still, how we breathe, how we learn, how we organise our awareness and focus of attention and, above all, how we choose our reactions in increasingly demanding situations.
It is a subtle and thoughtful discipline, but essentially practical and problem-solving. The Alexander Technique works through re-establishing the natural relationship between the head, the neck and the back - the "core" of the body that supports the strength of the limbs and which provides the structural environment for breathing and for the internal organs.
The natural working of the head, neck, back relationship can usually be seen to be working powerfully, beautifully and effortlessly in small children.
At the same time as learning to access the natural relationship between the head, neck and back, conscious and reasoned body awareness, spatial awareness and behavioural awareness are developed so that long-held patterns of movement, posture, breathing and muscular tension, and habits that, for example, affect our learning abilities and psychological stress reactions can be reassessed.
Learning gradually to refine and to utilise an improved relationship between the head, neck and back is powerfully health-giving. Good habits of diet and exercise are well understood in their capacity literally to "change what we are"; the long-term effects of good habits of the "use of the self" are less well known, but no less life-changing. You get stronger, you become both more relaxed and more alert, aches and pains fade, you feel calm, confident and self-reliant, you have more stamina, you think more clearly, you recover from injury more quickly, you cope with stress better.
The Alexander Technique can enhance personal performance across the whole spectrum of human activity, from elite athletic or artistic performance to the management of disability, pain, illness or injury. Although the effortless upright posture of small children is in sharp contrast to that of most adults, it is possible for practically anyone to rediscover freedom and ease in movement by learning to become aware of, and then learning gradually to strip away, the habits of movement, tension and reaction that interfere with, distort or obscure natural and healthy patterns of coordination.
Learning the Alexander Technique is like learning any complex skill, such as playing a musical instrument or sailing a yacht; you need a teacher who has been "playing" or "sailing" for their own pleasure and benefit for years, to teach you new skills, and to help you to incorporate them into your own understanding and your own practice. Similarly, the real value of the Alexander Technique lies in becoming able to apply its principles, by yourself, to your daily activities.