Alexander technique is a method of improving health through better posture. By using the Alexander technique one can learn to improve ones posture so that the body is able to work in a more relaxed, natural and efficient manner. It is said to be entirely safe, to promote a harmonious state of both mind and body and to help a number of medical conditions ranging from back pain to headaches.
Why should I be aware of this?
Anyone feeling that they could benefit from this technique can test themselves by observing their posture in front of a mirror and performing some simple procedures. It is said that this technique has helped people of all ages and from all walks of life, by improving their health, emotional well being, mental alertness and resistance to stress. The British writer Aldous Huxley said that the technique not only improved his physical and mental health but also ‘caused a general heightening of consciousness on all levels.’
It is known to bring a striking improvement in such diverse things as high blood pressure, breathing, sleep, overall cheerfulness, and mental alertness and also in such a refined skill as playing a stringed musical instrument.
As a result of the training, those who have benefited from this training have actually become taller because they stand more upright. The training has also been used to improve the performances of athletes, dancers and public speakers. Success has been claimed in treating depression, exhaustion, anxiety, tension headaches, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Colitis, Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, lower back pain, sciatica and Asthma.
All about Alexander Technique
The method was developed by an Australian actor, Frederick Matias Alexander, who found himself losing his voice on stage and discovered that he could cure the condition by improving his posture. He noticed that when he came onto the stage, he seemed to shrink in height and he had difficulty breathing. He deduced that the combined effort of having to remember his lines and project them for an audience was causing him to lower his head, a natural reflex action to stress. He could feel the pressure it put on his vocal chords. By constantly observing and correcting himself, Alexander began slowly to change the way he thought about his work and to overcome what he called his 'startle reflex pattern’. His discovery became the basis for a whole technique for retraining the body’s movement and positions.
The teacher begins by watching how a person uses the body. Even simple activities such as walking or reading a book involves the use of different muscles and a certain amount of muscular tension and spring is required just to react against gravity. Children move naturally but usually acquire bad habits as they grow up.
Some people suffer from chronic muscular tension, which throws the head, neck and back out of alignment, causing rounded shoulders, a bowed head and arched back. If not corrected, the spine develops a curve and a hump may appear at the base of the neck. This causes back pain and strains the heart, lungs and digestive system.
The teacher shows how to change these harmful postures and regain the habit of using muscles with minimum effort and maximum efficiency. While one stands, sits or lies down, the teacher gently manipulates the body into a more relaxed position. Some employ gentle pushing techniques of the hips, stomach and back. Meanwhile the student should concentrate on the teacher’s instructions. One is encouraged to think of the technique as a way of working not just on the body but the body’s total awareness factor. The teacher does not use force, there is no wrenching or clicking of joints, just a subtle adjustment as one learns to stand, sit, walk, and move all over again, in a free and relaxed way. The lesson last about 30-45 minutes.
What can I do?
Even the way one stands can cause problems. Most people suffer from this and it leads to aches and pain. Most people slouch, which looks and feels uncomfortable and in trying to correct themselves, they stand too stiff and upright which can be equally harmful. This technique helps one to ‘stand tall’ in an aligned and balanced way. Bad posture is often so ingrained that it feels natural. So watch yourself in a mirror, while standing, walking or sitting for example, and aim for a relaxed stance and movement with minimum muscular effort.
- While walking-- Aim for keeping the balance of the head on top of the spine, freely poised and shoulders relaxed. Feel yourself transferring your weight onto alternate feet as you walk.
- While Sitting-- Aim for holding the head freely poised, shoulders relaxed, knees a little apart (crossed legs twist the pelvis and spine) and feet firmly on the ground.
- While working at a desk-- Avoid slouching over the desk, stomach tight, breathing restricted and arms tense. Aim for simply bending forwards at the hip joint, keeping the bottom firmly on the seat. Also make sure that the chair is chosen or adjusted to be a comfortable height in relation to the desk top.
- While getting into a chair-- Avoid collapsing into a chair by throwing your head back, sticking your bottom out and arching your lower back.
- While rising from a chair-- Avoid jutting the head forwards, folding your body and then straightening up.
- Guide to the Alexander Technique
- Alexander technique FAQ's
- Alexander Technique International
- History of the Alexander Technique