The Alexander Technique is a practice — originally used by actors to addresses chronic ailments — that just may help you to stop stressing yourself out.
A longtime open secret of the entertainment industry, the Alexander Technique is a way of getting rid of harmful tension in your body. This process shines light on inefficient habits of movement and patterns of tension that prevent us from moving more easily.
The technique was developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor prone to chronic laryngitis. When he wasn’t able to find effective treatment, he developed a system of getting rid of bodily tension, which eventually allowed him to speak with greater ease. Alexander found that we tend to distribute our body weight unevenly — holding our heads incorrectly, walking inefficiently, reflecting stress in our posture; this creates imbalance and tension.
The Alexander Technique attempts to re-educate our sense of kinesthesia, which we use to calibrate our location and to judge the effort necessary for movement. During an Alexander Technique session, a teacher will observe your posture and movement patterns. He or she will have you perform simple movements like walking, standing up, and sitting down while guiding your body to encourage the release of unnecessarily restrictive muscular tension. For part of the lesson, the teacher will usually work with you on a table, so you can experience the active principles of the technique without paying attention to maintaining balance. Lessons typically last between 30 and 45 minutes.
Potential enefits range from reduction of musculoskeletal pain to greater strength, enhanced flexibility, increased speed, better posture, improved vocal quality, decreased stress and increased confidence.
Students and teachers of the Alexander Technique are continually relearning how to move — searching for balanced posture and natural buoyancy. The method can be used to rehabilitate injuries, ease trauma, or build skills related to sports or the arts. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has found the Alexander Technique addresses long-term back pain, neck pain, and Parkinson’s disease in addition to conditions like asthma, headaches and insomnia.
Though many people haven’t heard of The Alexander Technique, there are likely plenty of options in terms of local teachers to work with available at alexandertechnique.com. Another good resource is the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT), which offers info about classes, events, teacher training, and a list of AmSAT-certified teachers who have completed comprehensive training over a minimum of three years at amsatonline.org.
Last modified: June 5, 2017