The Alexander Technique
From the moment we are born, we evolve through Movement. Performing all kinds of actions we live our lives by using our minds, bodies and emotions in ways that make us disconnect from ourselves. No matter how well intended we are about taking care of our bodies we often suffer from the effects of overuse and stress which causes DIS-EASE (tiredness and chronic fatigue to muscle & joint injuries, emotional imbalance, depression, acute and chronic illnesses, post traumatic stress disorder, neurological disorders etc).
The need to fix problems fast often brings us to doctors, physicians or other practitioners that bring a quick relief, 'correct’ or subdue the symptoms. Soon after we find our system backtracking, with new or recurrent symptoms troubling us again. Evidently it is obvious that it is something that we are doing to ourselves that throws our system out of balance.
What is it?
The Alexander Technique is based on a concept of the inseparability of mind, body and emotions (we call this psychophysical unity).
It is a method for identifying habitual patterns of use (nervous responses) and through the guidance of the teacher’s hands, learning to release these and relearn more efficient ways to use ourselves.
The Alexander Technique assists pupils to consciously re-educate the nervous system and improve the use of all aspects of themselves.
By learning how to connect our mind with our body and its anatomical structure, and the freedom of our breath, we achieve effortless movement and enjoy physical vitality with a calm, aware and centred state of mind.
Is it for me?
Everyone, regardless of their age, can benefit from an Alexander Technique lesson. The lesson usually includes a hands-on reclining session, during which the pupil has a chance to release daily tensions and recover the spine’s full length. The teacher’s hands provide feedback for the neuromuscular system that can guide the pupil towards recognizing their patterns of misuse and teach them how to approach new means and improve their use and condition.
The Alexander Technique teaches us how to achieve:
In the fast-paced urban environment we are living in, the question is - how to stay in touch with one's own center, and how to keep a calm inner center that remains uninfluenced by external situations?
In order to be able to successfully manage the tasks that are changing us, do we really need to be in an aggressive or stressed mode?
Of course not; and that is the main problem. Adrenaline-style reactions or patterns in our behaviour (anger, over-excitement, overworking) eventually cause misuse of our body in some way or another that we usually don't become aware of until symptoms appear.
With the Alexander Teacher's guidance, the person learns how to inhibit the stressful patterns of reaction to stimuli - how to stop, pause and rethink. Then the Alexander Technique provides new ways on how to stay in contact with our breathing and body and thus acquire a new sense of balanced self. A new sense of awareness gradually develops that has its unique rhythm which is uninterrupted by external tensions, while we remain open and interactive with the world around us.
“The cure comes from learning.”
Alexander Technique can support:
As we learn to acquire Freedom of movement, Clearing the mind and Freedom of Voice and Breathing, together with a recognition of our functional limits and the way to improve them, the Alexander technique guides us towards a state of being that empowers us and enables us to be more and more independent in our choices of means of action, thus improving our use throughout the demanding professional tasks and providing us with a clearer awareness on how to remain centered in ourselves and avoid the negative effects of stress.
The Alexander Technique can enhance performance in:
Sports and dancing
Singing, acting and music performance
Workplace tasks and public speaking
For actors, dancers and singers the body is their performing instrument. The Alexander Technique helps in maintaining a good condition of coordination of the body and mind. Through the lessons, issues that affect performance levels such as vocal hoarseness, limited vocal range, recurring throat ailments, and breathing issues, can be healed and the pupil can learn how to avoid suffering from them again.
"It is not what you do, but how you do it"
“The way we think of something, influences how we use it.”
Since the beginning of the 20th century there has been enough scientific evidence to support the effects of the Alexander Technique in the improvement of Neck and Lower Back pain, Parkinson’s disease and many other ailments.
The Alexander Technique can help in the recovery, improvement and prevention of :
Neck pain, RSI
Lower Back pain, knee problems
NHS Clinical Trials:
Read more in the British Medical Journal:
The Alexander Technique aims at awakening the sensory mechanisms and reconnecting one’s thinking with the body. By perceiving the way the body is supported by its anatomy and train the nervous system to be able to stop any misuse and release unnecessary tensions. In this way, no matter the disability present, the Alexander Technique helps the person meet and perceive their own body in a new way. By connecting this new skills of perception with conscious awareness the use of one's self evolves . When injuries have caused temporary disability, the Alexander Technique teaches how to turn every possibility of movement into a self- physiotherapy session!
Nikolaas Tinbergen, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behaviour patterns". He devoted a significant portion of his Nobel prize lecture in 1973 to talking about F. M. Alexander, the Alexander Technique, and the importance of Alexander's discoveries and the benefits he and his wife experienced from lessons.
ATLAS - Neck Pain Trial at the University of York - comparing Alexander Technique, acupuncture & GP care - research results due 2015
A large randomised clinical trial involving 517 participants is investigating how effective Alexander Technique lessons are, compared with acupunture and usual GP care, for people with chronic neck pain. The 3-year trial, which began in October 2011, is being conducted by the University of York and is funded to the tune of £720,000 by Arthritis Research UK.
In this trial, people with chronic neck pain have been randomised to one of three groups:
Alexander Technique lessons from STAT-registered teachers (total time 600 minutes across 20 lessons), with continued GP care
acupuncture sessions (total time 600 minutes across 12 sessions), with continued GP care
continued GP care alone
Pain and disability associated with neck pain will be assessed over 1 year, along with measures of quality of life, participant beliefs and experience, cost effectiveness and safety. The trial is not designed to be a direct comparison of Alexander lessons and acupuncture, rather it will compare each of these with usual GP care. Further details can be found in the published trial protocol 2.
Some patients have taken part in in-depth interviews on their perceptions and experiences of Alexander Technique sessions, acupuncture and usual GP care. The researchers are also exploring patients' preferences, beliefs and understanding of their neck pain and the impact these factors might have on their experience of treatment and the subsequent outcome.
The results will provide robust evidence on whether there are: significant worthwhile benefits to patients; economic benefits demonstrating value for money; and sufficient levels of acceptability and safety.
Chronic neck pain is a common condition in the adult population. As well as being painful and disabling, it is associated with significant costs to the individual, their families, the NHS and society in general. As the optimal care for chronic neck pain has not yet been established and with patients commonly self referring for acupuncture and Alexander Technique sessions as treatment options, more research on the effectiveness of these interventions is needed.
British Medical Journal (BMJ) Study on Alexander Technique - Significant Benefits for Back Pain Patients
Impressive long-term benefit from Alexander Technique lessons for low back pain has been demonstrated by a major study published by the British Medical Journal on 20th August 2008.
Compared with usual GP care, trial participants who undertook 24 Alexander Technique lessons with a registered teacher, experienced significantly:
- less pain (average 3 days of pain per month versus 21 days)
Disabilities, Neurodivergence & Parkinson's
The Alexander Technique has been greatly recognised for the improvement it can bring about in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. People with disabilities can also benefit and achieve an easier use of the body through movement. By respecting and acknowledging the limits in a person's motion, the purpose is to help the pupil to be in good terms with themselves as whole. In the case of disabilities the way is to meet the anatomical situation as it is and through the acceptance of its uniqueness give the mind and the body the time and space to breathe and release. Depending on the condition, different movement games are practiced, and with the Teacher's help, the pupil can have a new experience of their own weight and use of gravity. Through the process of the lesson new connections develop that create new neurological pathways and open new possibilities of sensory appreciation.
“"We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains."”