I would not say I am a fan of the technique – I am a disciple. For many years I suffered with chronic neck pain following a horse riding accident. When my HR manager recommended the Alexander Technique I was intrigued. Her father, a stroke victim, had experienced an incredible recovery from practising the Technique – to the point where he no longer needed a walking stick. After the first lesson I felt a dramatic difference; my neck felt long and free like a giraffe. Soon after that my teacher said I had learnt enough to incorporate the technique into my everyday life and manage my situation myself.
The Alexander Technique is a skill for self-development teaching you to change long-standing habits that cause unnecessary tension in everything you do.
Whatever your age or ability, the Technique can help boost your performance in any activity and relieve the pain and stress caused by postural habits, like slouching or rounded shoulders.
Everyday things like tensing when the phone rings, rushing to pick up the children from school or worrying about deadlines lead to physical and mental strain. Over the years, this accumulates and can cause illness, injury or common aches and pains that may seem to come from nowhere.
Working with your teacher, you will learn to recognise your usual reactions to the stresses of life. You will find out how you have been contributing to your problems, how to prevent them and regain control.
A method of re-education
Alexander Technique lessons stimulate your ability to learn simultaneously on different levels; physically, intellectually and emotionally.
You learn to recognise your harmful habits, how to stop and think, and to choose a better response.
Gradually you learn to apply your new understanding and skill in everyday activities and more complex ones, to bring awareness and poise into everything you do.
Just like riding a bike, once learned, the Technique stays with you for life!
The Technique teaches us the skilful "use of the self", i.e. how we use ourselves when moving, resting, breathing, learning, organising our awareness and focus of attention and, above all, choosing our reactions to increasingly demanding situations.
Changes brought about by good habits of diet and exercise are well understood. The long-term effects of good habits of the "use of the self" are less well known, but equally life-changing.
You learn to become aware of, and then gradually strip away, the habits of movement, tension and reaction that interfere with natural and healthy coordination.
Balanced body, balanced mind
Coordination and poise rely on the natural balance of the head, neck and back, what F M Alexander called “the primary control”. The Technique works through re-establishing this natural balance to promote easy upright posture and efficient functioning, body and mind.
The Alexander Technique is a subtle and thoughtful discipline, but essentially practical and problem-solving.