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Complementary Healthcare Information Service - UK

Alexander Technique

 

What is it?

The Alexander Technique is used to help to teach people about how efficiently and effortlessly they can use their bodies in everyday life. Often, we develop bad posture and habits without being aware of this, and expend too much energy or muscle force to achieve a task. Alexander Technique teachers help to adjust the client's posture to recognise the difference between current habits and what it feels like to use muscles with minimum effort and in a relaxed, fluid way. The Technique teaches how to become more aware of your own posture, balance and movement in everyday life.

The lessons usually last for between 30 and 45 minutes and are normally on a one-to-one basis. The teacher uses his/her hands to gently correct any muscular imbalances and encourages the body to a better alignment. This is a direct body experience, so the client becomes familiar with the sensation of correct alignment in their own body. This can feel strange initially, as the body is not used to using it's muscles in this way, and the new methods of movement need to be practised with constant awareness as to how we choose to use our bodies in everyday tasks. It is a process of re-educating the body by learning how to stand and move correctly. This leads to health benefits as often poor spinal posture will lead to other symptoms like poor breathing due to restriction in the throat and diaphragm areas. Breathing and how we breathe is an important aspect of the Alexander Technique.

The Alexander Technique was developed by an Australian actor, Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955). He suffered from respiratory problems as a child, which later affected his voice and career in the theatre. He tried many remedies without success and eventually began a process of self-observation to try to find a way of curing himself. He realised that the voice problem was a result of muscular tension in his whole body and that his thought patterns also had a great part in contributing to the tension that had become an ingrained habit. Alexander studied his posture with the aid of mirrors to see how this was affected when he recited and as a result could see that his body alignment was incorrect. He gradually taught himself to correct his posture and found that he had cured his voice problem. He went on to pass the technique to others and eventually opened a clinic to help people to learn about their own use of posture.

 

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