What is the Alexander Technique?
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.
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
"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
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.