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What is the Alexander Technique?


Working at a keyboardIt is a tool to recover that easy way of moving you took such pains to learn at the start of your life. It is a way of getting back control of your response to what life throws at you.

It teaches you poise, balance, composure, grace. 

It is simple.

Alexander discovered that if you get the balance of your head on the top of your spine just so, without undue tension, your whole being works better.

So let’s all just balance our heads just so.

Alexander also discovered why we can’t just do that, despite our best intentions.

His technique is an indirect method to get our heads balanced just so, and to keep them that way.

 The Alexander Technique uses "Direction" and "Inhibition". 

"Direction" is a specific way of thinking, when you ask your own muscles to let go of excess tension in order to become lengthened and toned, so that something good can happen, for example, so that your head can go up. When your head is poised freely at the top of your spine, and not being clamped down on to it, the spine is not so compressed, the ribs can move more freely, breathing is easier. When the neck muscles are not so tight, they are not tugging on the structures of the body, so other muscles do not have to compensate, and the whole muscle system becomes less rigid and more flexible.

And "Inhibition", in the Alexander sense, is the sending of messages to your muscles to prevent them from unduly tightening. So that your head, for example, is not pulled back and down. Pulling the head back and down is a very common response to stress (just notice what happens if someone bursts a balloon behind you!). It is a protective mechanism, and is useful for an immediate threat, but, especially if the stress happens frequently, we forget to let go again and the tightening of the neck becomes an ingrained habit, so frequent that we don't know we are doing it. It becomes an automatic response. By using inhibition we can stop the automatic response, and allow ourselves to move in a safer and more effective way.

We all were taught inhibition when we were children - instead of dashing across the road to see a friend, we learned to stop, look and listen, and then cross the road if it was safe.  If you didn't learn that useful skill, the chances are you are not here to read this!

An Alexander teacher will help you notice what is happening inside yourself, and help you to respond differently in very basic movements (for example, sitting and standing). This sounds a little bit peculiar, until you've experienced it. People often report a feeling of lightness and a freedom of movement after an Alexander lesson.


What the Alexander Technique isn’t


 It isn’t a therapy, it isn’t a “quick fix”. But it does have beneficial effects; it helps to cope with pain, and people frequently report reduction of pain. 

It isn't an exercise regime, although you need to practise every day to get the most from your lessons. As in learning any skill, you need to practise!

It doesn't tell you what to do, but it gives you the ability to choose how to respond to situations.


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