About the technique
How it all began
The Alexander Technique was devised in the 19th century by Fredrick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor when he lost his voice. Unable to get any help from conventional doctors,he decided to observe how his physical movements affected his performance.
He discovered that the way he held himself created tension, restricted breathing and compressed his vocal cords. Alexander reasoned that if the physical tension could be released by using muscles correctly, and by working with, rather than against, gravity, then bodily wear and tear could be reduced.
By a process of trial and error he learnt to use his body in new ways, his voice problem disappeared and to his amazement his general health improved too.
The Alexander Technique is not a therapy but involves the re‑education of our body. Stress, strain, tension, poor postural awareness, affect the ease of the way we move. Stress filled lives, plus bad furniture design contribute too many painful problems.
Lack of tension release can interfere with circulation & could eventually lead to backache, high blood pressure, migraine, asthma, depression, insomnia and many other symptoms. Alexander identified the neck as the main place we store tension. Tension distorts the spine’s natural curve, narrowing the ribs, and this unnatural position causes muscles to contract and shorten.
The Alexander Technique is also concerned with re-educating the mind (to encourage conscious effort), preventing it giving unhelpful messages to our body. This is a learning process that requires thoughtful participation to achieve the best result, not just something you have done to you.
The Alexander Technique cannot be learned from a book. The aim is to help people help themselves to find ease of tension, greater mobility, more energy and clearer thought so that using your body becomes a pleasurable as well as a healing experience.
How Does an Alexander Teacher Work
In a lesson, a teacher uses gentle guiding hands as you sit, stand & walk. Helping you become aware of habits of tension & how they interfere with your movements, co‑ordination & posture. We also work with you lying supported on a table, our hands helping your body to find new ways to release & let go of tension. We become so familiar with our tensions & crookedness, that often when we are put right, we can feel quite wrong.
Alexander Teachers work from the basic premise that the body and mind are inextricably linked. The physical stress and strains we have been talking about, and the unnatural postures we adopt, influence our well being. Think how solid the muscles in your neck and shoulders often feel after a difficult day at work or being stuck in a traffic jam, and notice how frazzled you feel, mentally, too. It also works the other way round: Mental pressures affect the bodies systems.