How it works
The Alexander Technique is a method of reducing unnecessary tension in the way we move and use our bodies. It is probably best known for its application to posture as it teaches us to return to a more balanced state in which the body is well-aligned and in a state of tension appropriate to whatever activity we are performing. Most of us have lost that easy poise and freedom of movement that we had as small children. We have tended to acquire bad postural habits over many years of misuse, placing a great deal of strain on the body. The range of movement most of us perform in modern life has narrowed tremendously, often resulting in chronic pain and tension.
People present themselves to Alexander teachers with a variety of conditions – general stress, repetitive strain injury, lower back pain, chronic neck and shoulder tension, or vocal difficulties. These conditions are created by the wrong kind of tension in the wrong areas, instead of appropriate muscle tone in the right areas. Repetitive activities of any sort can create misuse, so anyone can benefit. It’s not a technique simply for pain and stress, but for anyone who is interested in learning how to move in a more free and well coordinated way.
Lessons are organised on a one teacher to one pupil basis and last 45 minutes. The lesson concentrates on simple movements where the teacher will try to prevent the usual misuse. Most people sit, stand, walk and talk using far more energy and tension than necessary. The lesson slows the pupil down so that they become far more aware of how they actually move, combined with the teacher’s gentle movements and verbal directions. There is also a lying down period, where the body is in an optimum state of balance and the teacher tries to iron out the distortions and encourage the postural reflexes to work again.
Good use is far more complex than standing up straight, in the same way as it is impossible to correct round shoulders by exerting muscular tension to pull them back. When excess tension is released it is as though a heavy weight is lifted from the body. Although Alexander Technique is not primarily a method of relaxation most people who have lessons notice very quickly that they don’t get as tense as they used to. They also have a tool to prevent tension accumulating in the body and creating muscular and skeletal distortions.