“For in the mind of man lies the secret of his ability to resist, to conquer and finally govern the circumstances of his life” F.M. Alexander
What is the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is a skill which ensures that the natural poise and resilience seen in young children continues to be available as they grow and become adults.
As we get older, we tend to lose our innate ability to coordinate in a healthy and natural way. For children, everyday things like using computers and smart-phones, exam stress or carrying heavy school bags begin to interfere with their coordination and cause physical and mental strain.
Dealing with the force of habit
The Alexander Technique recognizes that harmful habits form as a result of the way we react to the stimuli in our lives. Examples include tense neck and shoulders, slouching or shallow breathing. Over time, these harmful habits accumulate and our overall well-being suffers.
Children who have lessons in the Alexander Technique learn to become mindful in their activities, and find a new way to respond to habit and stress. They learn to recognize their harmful habits, how to stop and think, and how to choose a better response.
The result is improved well-being and performance on many levels.
Wide-ranging relevance for children
The value of the Alexander Technique goes far beyond pain prevention and relief, however.
On one level, it nurtures overall well-being by giving students tools to deal with psychological, emotional and physical stress.
On another level, it enables students to bring the best of themselves to whatever task they are engaged in. This is because the Alexander Technique demonstrates that as human beings we only function at our very best when we are well-coordinated as a whole.
As such, children engaging in any demanding activity such as sports, drama, dance, singing or learning a musical instrument will find that their performance improves with the Alexander Technique.
Applying the principles of the Technique means that movements become tension-free, lighter, more flowing, coordinated, subtle and accurate; and that artistic endeavours, freed up from habit, become more powerful and emotionally expressive.
Scientific Basis and the ‘Use of the Self’
Pictured above is F M Alexander, the originator of the Alexander Technique. He discovered that poise and overall coordination rely on a balanced relationship between the head, neck and back. Scientific studies have since confirmed its effectiveness in improving coordination and addressing conditions such as back and neck pain.
The Alexander Technique helps us realize the fundamental importance of how we look after ourselves when moving, resting, breathing, learning or responding to demanding situations. In Alexander’s words, the Technique therefore prioritizes the skilful ‘use of the self’ as a prerequisite for all human endeavours.
This is why John Dewey, sometimes known as the father of American education, is famous for saying that the Alexander Technique ‘bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other human activities’.