What is Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique is a century-old method that teaches us how to use ourselves in a more beneficial way. We are all born with a reflex that counteracts the downward force of gravity and allows for an efficient use of the body. This reflex is governed by the relationship between the head, the neck and the back. Alexander called this relationship the primary control. Most of us have developed habits that interfere with the primary control, and the resulting lower standard of functioning causes tension, inefficiency, poor coordination, stiffness and pain. With the Alexander Technique we learn to recognize these harmful habits of misuse and stop them. The result is muscular harmony throughout the body and improved general health.

 

Who can it help?

The Alexander Technique can provide great relief for people who suffer from chronic pain, stiff necks or backs, repetitive stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, or pain in their joints and limbs. Others who may benefit from the technique include office workers who spend hours each day in front of a computer or at their desk, musicians who want to improve their performance capabilities, businessmen and women seeking to present themselves with more confidence, educators of all kinds, public speakers, those who stutter, and people who suffer from headaches and dizziness. The Alexander Technique complements and often reinforces the results of chiropractic, massage, and physical therapy, as well the practice of yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, and so on. Remember, the Alexander Technique is not a therapy or treatment. Rather, it is a method that teaches us how to use our bodies more efficiently, which can either prevent problems from starting or allow pre-existing problems in the body to heal themselves. F. M.

 

Who is Alexander?

F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was an actor who developed his technique while looking for solutions to the chronic hoarseness and throat problems that had begun to impede him in his career. Upon finding that his doctors were unable to help, he took matters into his own hands. As he carefully observed himself in the mirror while reading his lines, he became aware of the pattern of habitual behavior that was causing his throat problems. Alexander spent the next nine years studying his own use, thus developing what is now known as the Alexander Technique. He dedicated the rest of his life to helping people by educating them about his discovery.

 

What happens during a lesson?

During a lesson I will take you through simple movements with verbal directions accompanied by hands on guidance.  These movements give you the experience of moving with less tension while associating the new movements with the verbal directions.  Through this process, your sensory awareness improves and you notice your habitual misuse in daily activities.  You will then have a choice to say no to the habit and to give yourself the verbal directions to effect a positive change.  The constant improvement being applied to the use of your body in everyday activities can have enormous benefit.

 


How does it work?

There are five main points to the Alexander Technique:

• Awareness of the habit. As habits are often subconscious, we must first notice them in order to change them.

• Inhibition and non-doing. We learn to say “no” to the habit and to an immediate reaction to stimuli, allowing us the possibility to react in a different way.

• Recognition of faulty sensory awareness. What we think we are doing and what we feel to be correct is often distorted.

• The need to send directions. We must consciously guide ourselves using a set of orders aimed at an improved organization of the self.

• The existence of the primary control. There is a dynamic relationship between the head, the neck and the back, which when used properly will restore an innate reflex that counteracts gravity and allows for freedom of the limbs.

 

Does it hurt?

There are a wide variety of reactions to the Alexander Technique from feeling relaxed to feeling strange and even both at once.  Generally, the types of carefully guided movements during lessons do not hurt.  However, because the goal of the lesson is to cause an improvement in use of the body, there must be some real change. With change comes new sensations, some of which could be uncomfortable. Also, there can be minor soreness or stiffness with a change in how muscles are being used.  While some muscles relax, others will have to work harder.  Occasionally, a student will be so anxious to improve his or her use that he will exert far too much effort throughout the week which can cause unnecessary pain.  It is important to realize that at the beginning we are just trying to increase awareness and to inhibit our habits but we don’t want to overwork ourselves.

It is crucial that if you are experiencing an unusual amount of pain you tell me immediately so that you can stop lessons and go see a doctor!



How many lessons are necessary?

How many lessons you take depends on why you are coming and how you react to the work. Ten lessons will generally be enough to effect a permanent positive change in use.  Often,  students keep coming for the other tremendous beneifts of the work as the AT can improve ones life in many different ways.

 

How much does it cost?

The cost of individual lessons is USD 60 per forty five minute lesson.  I do offer a discount for sessions purchased in blocks of 10 or more.  If you are curious about this work but are not sure if it is right for you, contact me for an individual consultation.

I also work with groups.  Rates are negotiable.