The Alexander Technique – A powerful aid for personal growth and a skill for life
People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures. FM Alexander
The Alexander Technique is a practical way of being in better balance: both in our body and in our mind. It teaches us to use our bodies in a better way, helping to undo the effects of bad habits, stress and tension created by daily life. We can learn to restore natural alignment and balance and regain co-ordination and poise. Understanding the principles of the technique and putting these skills into practice gives us the power to manage stress and tension. Learning to use our whole self well, letting go of old damaging habits, habitual responses and reflexes, uncontrolled or mis-judged emotional responses and prejudices lets us ‘walk into freedom’ and discover our latent potentials. It is the principle of conscious inhibition and mindfulness in action, that makes the Alexander Technique a unique and powerful learning process.
The benefits include:
- Improved balance, coordination and poise
- Improved stress management – physically and emotionally; calming of the nervous system
- Reduction of depression and anxiety
- Improved posture; osteopenia improved
- Improved circulation, breathing and digestion
- A major study published in the British Medical Journal in 2008. showed that “One to one lessons in the Alexander technique have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain that are superior to conventional back pain treatment.”
“It is not the degree of ‘willing’ or ‘trying’, but the way in which the energy is directed, that is going to make the ‘willing’ or ‘trying’ effective.” F.M. Alexander
"All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience." - Henry Miller
Most of FM Alexander's life was devoted to teaching others his technique- an educational process that is today called the Alexander Technique which helps us to recognize and overcome reactive habitual patterns in movement and thinking. The technique is based on his discovery that his unconscious, habitual interference with his head-neck-back relationship was affecting his overall functioning, and that this relationship could be brought under conscious control. His practical experiences showed that "it is impossible to separate 'mental' and 'physical' processes in any form of human activity" (FM Alexander 1932).
It has been a century since Alexander made his discovery, and it has not only stood the test of time, but continues to astonish the scientific world with its insights into areas of our minds and bodies which are only just beginning to be explored. Many respected thinkers, including the American philosopher John Dewey, Nobel prize winner Nikkolas Tinbergen (who in 1973 devoted half of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech to the Alexander Technique), physiologist Charles Sherrington, anatomist Raymond Dart, authors Aldous Huxley and George Bernard Shaw, and many distinguished performing artists, actors, musicians, and dancers. have hailed the Alexander Technique as one of the most important discoveries of recent times.
“How use doth breed habit in a man!” William Shakespeare
“Mr Alexander has done a service to the subject by insistently treating each act as involving the whole integrated individual, the whole psychophysical man. To take a step is an affair, not of this or that limb solely, but of the total neuromuscular activity of the moment, not least of the head and neck,” Sir Charles Sherrington, Neurophysiologist, Nobel Prize for Medicine