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About the Alexander Technique

What is the Alexander Technique?

Most of us, even in the simplest task, create unnecessary tension that interferes with our functioning, reduces our effectiveness, and gets in the way of what we are trying to accomplish. The Alexander Technique (AT) is a movement re-education method for restoring the body’s natural balance and coordination. The technique teaches you through observation and awareness to recognize unconscious physical, mental, and emotional habits and patterns.

Computer hands
You will learn practical tools to change these habits and make better choices in responding to daily activities and stresses. Shedding unwanted habits and reactions can bring a sense of lightness, calm, and increased energy. You begin to move with greater ease and freedom. Ordinary activities like sitting, standing, walking and going up and down stairs can be effortless.

A series of Alexander lessons helps you to take responsibility for changing how you use your mind and body and to apply the method to daily tasks, work, and specialized activities. As our overall functioning improves, specific symptoms of aches and discomfort tend to disappear.

The technique addresses the functioning of the entire person. You operate as a total dynamic organism with no mind-body split. If you want to change how you function you have to change how you think and then refine the mind-body communication loop (messages from the brain to the body and information from the body back to the brain).

Who can benefit?

Equestrians

Everyone has some habits that limit their potential to use themselves freely. Hence, anyone can benefit from the Alexander Technique including

  • People who experience chronic stress and tension and associated headaches
  • Individuals with chronic back pain, neck, and shoulder tension/pain
  • Those with repetitive strain injury or other joint pain
  • People with tension and discomfort from long hours at a computer or desk
  • People who want to improve their posture/alignment and look and feel better
  • Floor workPerforming artists, including actors, dancers, musicians, singers, and conductors, by improving skill and enhancing performance, while minimizing strain, pain, fatigue, and injury
  • Athletes and fitness enthusiasts by enhancing performance, facilitating the learning of new skills, and preventing injury
  • New mothers by reducing strain and improving body use in tasks such as lifting and carrying the baby
  • People who are recovering from or coping with the effects of car accidents
  • People recovering from injury or surgery by learning pain management and how to restore balance from compensation patterns
  • Businessmen and women by increasing confidence and poise in public speaking and presentations

Who was F. M. Alexander?

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor and orator who developed a chronic hoarseness in his voice limiting his performing. The advice from his doctor to rest and drink tea worked until he performed again and lost his voice. Determined to figure out what was causing his problem, he watched himself in mirrors as he spoke and observed that he was chronically tightening his neck and pulling his head back and down. He realized that the way he used his head and neck was causing his vocal problems.

FM AlexanderAlexander spent years developing a method to eliminate restrictive habits and form new thinking skills to improve how he used himself. He discovered that when neck tension is reduced the head no longer compresses on the spine and the spine is then free to lengthen. This allows for greater freedom and balance in the whole body. He evolved a hands-on teaching method that encourages all the systems of the body to work as a dynamic and integrated whole.

His years of self investigation led him to teach students and train teachers to observe habitual ways of moving and reacting, to stop poor habits that interfere with free functioning, and to consciously choose a better way.

How To Learn The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is most commonly learned in private lessons lasting from 30 to 60 minutes with a certified teacher who has undergone a teacher certification-training course. You may also study the technique in a group class, which is most effective if accompanied by individual lessons.

The number of lessons required varies from one person to another. Often an introductory series of 10 lessons is recommended to give you a sense of the long-term benefits. A study of 20-30 or more lessons is necessary to learn effective application to daily life tasks and specialized activities.

Floor work

The Alexander Technique is a movement re-education process rather than a series of treatments or exercises. You are actively engaged in the process. Coming for an Alexander lesson is like going to a piano lesson. Your body is your instrument and you learn to recognize what is getting in the way of the best use of your instrument. In the lesson you learn tools to improve the playing of your instrument, which you then can think about and practice at home until your next lesson.

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