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What is Alexander Technique?

Alexander Technique is a unique, practical system of re-education for mind and body. Anyone can learn it and everyone can benefit.

It was FM Alexander’s natural curiosity and a desire to overcome his vocal problems on stage that led him to make his initial discoveries over a century ago. He was ahead of his time with his ideas about the connection of mind and body, and his belief in our capacity to change. He discovered that by bringing the whole self into a healthy, balanced state, we can all achieve freedom in how we think, move and live.

How does the technique work?

Alexander Technique is not a ‘quick-fix’ method, but a heuristic process involving some commitment. Alexander devised a system that we can follow if we want to achieve the freedom of body and mind it promises. It is a new skill, so it’s good to approach it like learning another language or a musical instrument. Instead of learning this new skill in the old, habitual ways, we are taught a new way to learn - more a process of unlearning - and it requires our conscious attention in each moment.

When the body and mind start working together, a new freedom is achieved, both physically and mentally. This is why, when a person chooses Alexander lessons to help with knee or shoulder pain, they often find that after a few lessons, not only has the physical pain vanished, but so too has their insomnia or digestive issue!

Habits

Our physical tensions and other habits are our strategies for dealing with the stresses and strains of life and arise early on, often staying with us, unchecked, forever. Often noticed primarily as physical, habits exist on every human level. They can hinder much of our activity and are difficult to let go of, unless we consciously address them. They can translate into pain or discomfort on many levels.

How lessons can help

In lessons with a teacher you discover your own particular ways of holding onto tensions and habits.

One-to-one lessons with a person trained to help you gain an awareness of how you hold tension – and teach you how to let go of it – can be the first step to receiving relief from all manner of ills, as well as a way to maintain natural, ongoing good health.

What to expect in a lesson

Please wear soft, comfortable clothes so that you can move easily. You will be asked to take your shoes off in lessons. You may also be asked to lie down on your back. I will work with your unique patterns and talk you through a series of instructions in movement and stillness, including ‘hands-on’ work. Instructions will be different for each individual. I will also give you some work you can do by yourself.

In lessons the student is always actively engaged in the process. Guided by the teacher's hands and voice, you learn how to use your thinking process to help you let go of undue muscular tension and discover a state of poise and ease.

As we continue and your application improves, you may start to notice small changes. Most people notice positive changes of all sorts within 6 weeks. Things like improved breathing and greater self-confidence can be among these changes.

Led by one’s own curiosity and increased ability to apply the method, a naturally calm and balanced state can become the basis of daily activities and the starting place from which a person can respond freely to life's choices and challenges.

Mindfulness

Alexander Technique is associated with calmness of mind and clear thinking; encouraging a relaxed yet energised state of mind and body. Because we are always 'present' when we are applying the technique, we are being 'mindful' throughout the process.

Pain

Most of us experience aches and pains on a regular basis but often we choose to ignore them, or accept them as a 'fact of life'. We may develop chronic pain which can be relieved temporarily by painkillers, massage or physiotherapy, but it keeps recurring.

The Alexander Technique helps release the habitual tensions which cause and perpetuate the pain; it tackles the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms. It can alleviate painful conditions including RSI, Frozen Shoulder and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, along with less desirable aspects of ourselves we previously considered unchangeable.

In 2009 a trial funded by the British Medical Council proved conclusively that the Alexander Technique helps alleviate back pain. The research was published in the British Medical Journal. You can access the article by clicking here: https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a884

Posture

Alexander Technique is often associated with good posture and many people come for lessons specifically to address this issue. If you are one of these people, you may well find that your posture improves, along with a list of other benefits, including improved breathing, increased self-confidence and better performance in a range of activities. This is a result of engaging with the 'whole self' process, which allows you to become aware of a more 'spacious' approach to breathing, standing, sitting - being. Therefore, good posture can be considered one of the ‘by-products’ of Alexander Technique.

Alexander Technique and the Performing Arts

Alexander Technique allows actors, musicians and dancers to express themselves without being bound by their own habitual responses.

Alexander Technique has long been a feature of professional Theatre, Music and Dance training and has been advocated by many people in the public eye, including Paul McCartney, Sting, James Cracknell and Judi Dench.

Among Alexander’s earliest students were George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, the educationalist John Dewey and the actress Ellen Terry, including many others in the theatres of London at turn of the last century.

Breathing problems

Alexander became known as an expert in breathing technique and voice production and projection – indeed, these remain at the top of a list of many benefits of using his technique. The Technique Alexander devised allows a person to recognise the quality of their breathing - often shallow, or held - and to work with the teacher to increase oxygen intake and lung capacity, breathing freely through the whole body.

 

 

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