What is the Alexander Technique?
Here are a few variations on how to describe it, in the hope of giving you a fuller flavour of whats on offer.
- It’s learning to unlearn or undo physical habit patterns that interfere with our natural balance, poise, body alignment and ease of movement. Chris Raff
- The title of Alexander’s second book ‘Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual’. F M Alexander
- The Alexander Technique is a skill for self-development teaching you to change long-standing habits that cause unnecessary tension in everything you do. Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, STAT website
- 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. STAT website
- The Alexander Technique is an intelligent way to solve body problems. Many people are mystified by their own back pain, excess tension or lack of coordination. They often see problems in their joints or muscles as structural, unchangeable. As an Alexander teacher, I hear clients say things like, “I’ve always walked like a duck,” or “My posture is just like my father’s.” But, as they learn the Technique, they are surprised that they really can make lasting changes in the way they walk, their degree of muscular tension or the shape of their posture. They learn how dynamic and changeable the body really is. They find that, by learning the Technique, they can improve their overall movement and achieve optimal health for both body and mind. Joan Arnold
- The Alexander Technique re-organizes patterns of chronic tension that have unconsciously become a fixed part of how we move, breathe, and act in the world. Rather than attempting to directly relax all tensions in the body, or trying to disperse the tensions by vigorous exercise, Alexander recognized that by consciously addressing the primary coordination of postural support, movement and breathing, tension could be transformed into available, coherent energy. John Nichol
- Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and happiness. Viktor Frankl
- The Alexander Technique is a method of personal education which involves self awareness and releasing muscular tension. Richard Brennan
- Since its beginnings in Australia in the 1890s, the Alexander Technique has become renowned as a powerful and effective antidote to the stresses and strains that modern life places upon our bodies. Jeremy Chance
- A tool for transforming harmful tension and painful posture, into freedom and poise one thought at a time. Lucy Ascham
The work is taught through words, movement, coaching and a unique guiding touch.
Its a way of helping you move more fluidly in everyday movements. Here is a video of me (less than one minute), moving in and out of semi-supine or constructive rest, the position of maximum rest for your spine. (You’ll hear Miriam asking “Should it be red?” at the beginning.) I’m humming to demonstrate that my breathing continues to flow whilst I move. Try it!
What the Alexander Technique is not.
A specific form of exercise.
A movement routine.
A meditation practice.
Physio, yoga, pilates, massage, a treatment.
What are the benefits?
These can be many and varied, depending on how you are out of balance or mis-using yourself. Many people have found benefit from stress using this Technique. Your thoughts affect your movement, and emotions.
See the STAT Society’s list of benefits for your health and well-being and improvement in your chosen activity.
Medical research papers and trials about the Alexander Technique. A variety of papers have been published, randomised control trials and a growing raft of evidence in support of this work.
PUBLISHED ABSTRACT, ATLAS TRIAL
I participated as a teacher during the ATLAS controlled trial recruiting patients with chronic neck pain and evaluating one-to-one Alexander Technique lessons, or acupuncture, each plus usual care, compared with usual GP care alone. The primary outcome (at 12-months) demonstrated significant and clinically meaningful reductions in neck pain and associated disability for both interventions compared with usual care alone. Here we describe pre-specified, self-efficacy and other self-care-related outcomes for the Alexander group compared with usual care.
Results: The Alexander group reported significantly greater improvements, compared with usual care alone, in most of the self-efficacy/self-care measures (9/11 measures at 6 months, and 8/11 at 12 months), including the ability to reduce pain in daily life. At 6 months, 81% (106/131) of Alexander participants reported significant improvement in the way they lived and cared for themselves (versus 23% for usual care), increasing to 87% (117/135) at 12 months (usual care: 25%). NPQ scores at both 6 and 12 months were related to improvement in self-efficacy and ability to reduce pain during daily life.
Conclusions: Alexander Technique lessons led to long-term improvements in the way participants lived their daily lives and managed their neck pain. Alexander lessons promote self-efficacy and self-care, with consequent reductions in chronic neck pain.
Self-efficacy is confidence in one’s ability to carry out behaviour required to produce a desired outcome. In this instance it means confidence in ability to engage in behaviour that leads to less neck pain.
More on the ATLAS trial here
The best way for most people to learn is with individual one to one Lessons.
Contact Lucy Ascham on 07949 522 655 to discuss how you can make a start and learn how your body is designed so you can operate it accordingly and improve your life experience.