The continued use of the Alexander Technique in ones life ensures an increased sense of wellbeing along with good posture.
It is a great shame that the Alexander Technique is associated with improved posture and that many of the unique benefits are often lost or just not known about.
F M Alexander, the founder of the Alexander Technique, was born prematurely in 1869. Consequently, he suffered breathing problems, generically labelled asthma. He almost died and had to be fed not with mothers milk, but with goat’s milk, his sensitive digestive system unable to cope with anything else. He was fed with a tiny little pipette. He was lucky to survive. We were all very lucky he survived.
This goes a long way to helping us understand the man who has developed the Alexander Technique which is now practiced all over the world by literally thousands of people. So why is it, that people know so little about this amazing technique? Not only that, but why do so many people think it is just about posture?
It is true that those who practice the technique fully and for some time develop a fantastic posture. But are we really to believe that posture is interesting or important enough to dedicate a whole subject to? Has any other technique been developed to cover only posture? Of course not. The simple reason why the Alexander Technique is labelled as a postural technique is because most people are lazy and it is far too much trouble for most people to think about it in any other fashion.
So what is the Alexander Technique? The trouble is, it is actually quite difficult to say. So let’s break it down. Firstly, we would have to say that the technique helps with musculoskeletal problems; stuff like back pain and neck pain, knee problems and shoulder tension. So this would put it in the same sort of group along side Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic’s. This would not be far from the truth as many people have benefited from relief of symptoms even in cases where the other practitioners have failed. So that is already far more than a posture technique and we haven’t even started yet.
Secondly, we have to look at the effect the technique is known to have on the psychological and emotional aspect. In order to explore this we need a case study. Let’s take George (real name changed), a 24 year old who when he first studied the Alexander Technique had failed to be inspired by conventional psychology and was feeling depressed, suffered from a hyperactive nervous disposition and often had bouts of paranoia. He was also generally suffering from a lack of confidence. His state was very un-relaxed and could not sit still or concentrate very well at all.
After a series of 10 lessons, George complained that he felt all his emotional problems were racing to the surface and he could not handle it. He stopped doing the lessons for about a month. Then he returned saying that he thought it ‘was all happening too fast.’ He now felt ready to go on. Using the technique George found that he was able to change all of the negative aspects described earlier. He was now more confident, relaxed, centred, focused and he showed no signs of nervousness, hyperactivity or paranoia. Clearly this demonstrates that Alexander Technique has implications within psychology and proved to be far more effective for George than he had found in more conventional services.
Thirdly, we must discuss the effects on learning.
“Alexander established not only the beginnings of a far reaching science of the apparently involuntary movements we call reflexes, but a technique of correction and self-control which forms a substantial addition to our very slender resources in personal education.” – George Bernard Shaw, playwright
“It (the Alexander Technique) bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other activities.” – Professor John Dewey, philosopher and educationalist.
A very close friend and confidant of Alexander himself, Dewey was interested in the Alexander Technique as a way of helping people to become more open to learning. If we can improve the way people behave mentally and physically, we can also improve their capacity to learn. A violin student who was asked to play a simple scale, became riddled with tension. This tension undermined the sound of the instrument significantly. When the Alexander Technique was used to relax the student, the tone of the instrument improved dramatically. The student was able to use a better approach to playing the instrument and therefore developed the skills needed to meet the challenge of making the violin sound beautiful.
When I went for a golf lesson for the first time the instructor was surprised at my success and commented that I was a natural. This I knew was not true, as when I had tried golf as a youngster I was quite poor. I said to the instructor, ‘No I am using the Alexander Technique.’
To this day, the Alexander Technique has been applied to many different activities; swimming, running, acting, playing music, and many books are available on its application to a wide variety of specific areas.
We must conclude that it is a very narrow perspective the general population seems to have about the Alexander Technique. Clearly it has a lot more to offer. We might say it is one of the best means of personal development known to man. No matter what you would like to be better at or would like to improve, it is your self you need to work on. The Alexander Technique allows you to work on the whole of your self in a very unique way, improving both mental and physical attributes. Or to put it a better way;
“Mr. Alexander’s method lays hold of the individual as a whole, as a self-vitalizing agent. He reconditions and re-educates the reflex mechanisms and brings their habits into normal relation with the functioning of the organism as a whole. I regard this method as thoroughly scientific and educationally sound.” – Professor George E. Coghill, Nobel Prize winning anatomist and physiologist.
The continued use of the Alexander Technique in ones life ensures an increased sense of wellbeing, we become more efficient at everything we do, our awareness of and connection to reality is improved along with our mental health.
It is certainly a great shame that the world at large have either never heard of the technique or have so many misconceptions about it that it just doesn’t figure in their life choices.
Ask around, read the testimonials on the hundreds of websites, spread the word.
Happiness is far too important to miss out on.
The Alexander may well improve posture but that is most certainly a bi-product and not the real fruit!
Nicholas Chapman Alexander Technique