Alexander Technique – What is it?

posted on | updated on | by Zuri Girl

We kept hearing about the Alexander Technique, and when the Swiss Association of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (SVLAT) announced they are celebrating their 30 year Anniversary, we love any excuse to celebrate someone’s success!

Improve your posture for a better physique and – most importantly – for better health. Good posture portrays confidence and self-assuredness, yet it is not always easy to break bad habits. Harmful postural habits, such as slouching, crouching and twisting the spine improperly can be at the root of most back problems and long-term stress. Postural improvements psychologically frees us from fear and opens the door for achieving our potential.


The Alexander Technique – What is it?
The Alexander Technique differs from an exercise program – it is an organic lifestyle change.  It’s aim is to remove harmful tension from the body and increase freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination.  Specially trained coaches of the Alexander Technique guide you through mental awareness and physical movements that reeducate the body to move in the manner it was intended from birth. With the Alexander Technique, you can achieve higher levels of alertness during the day, and more peaceful relaxation and sleep during the evening.

Taught one-to-one in ½ hour sessions, tense muscles are released, posture is improved and you are guided through ways to perform daily activities in a relaxed and coordinated manner. These days, our lifestyle habits cause unnecessary tension to the body. Recognizing harmful habits and learning ways to stop these habits are gained by using gentle movements and concentrated thought to undo said bad habits. Essentially, you are learning a mind body approach to bringing the body back into balance.


What are some examples of poor habits?

  • Cradling your telephone between the ear and the shoulder.
  • Slouching while sitting at your desk or at the dining table.
  • Rushing through the day in a tense manner.
  • Speaking or singing while holding the head back.
  • Round shoulders, slouched back and tense muscles reduce the natural capacity of the lungs and restrict breathing.

 

Who benefits from Alexander Technique lessons?
The Alexander Technique may work as a solution for anxiety, fatigue, breathing disorders, neck and shoulder tension, flat feet, clenched jaw and back pain and is extremely beneficial to those who work desk jobs as well as actors, musicians, dancers and those that practice martial arts, swimming and horse-riding.  Essentially, the Alexander Technique is good for anyone looking to make long-term postural and health improvements.

Pregnant women receive tremendous relief from the Alexander Technique during and post-pregnancy, which may be what some of you are eager to hear about right now.  Pregnancy often evokes terrible back pain as women tend to go about their everyday activities without making adjustments for their growing bodies. However, it is essential for women to adopt their posture and movements, as their weight and body shape changes externally and internally.  During the Alexander Technique sessions, women are taught how to bend, pick up, carry and nurse their child based on their body.  By following these small, but critical posture and lifestyle changes, tense back pain is no longer a concern.   It may even benefit during labor!


What should I expect from a lesson?

  • There is no specific required clothing – you may wear anything that is comfortable and easy to move around in.
  • It should not be painful – the Technique is reeducating the body how to move and examining activities that are currently part of your routine.
  • The teacher might use her hands to feel your body and better understand your breathing, movement and muscle tension.
  • Lessons typically last for 30 – 45 minutes
  • It is ideal to have a one to one lesson so the practitioner can focus 100% on your needs
  • The practitioner will usually use a chair, table and mirror during the session


What do clients have to say?
“I discovered the Alexander Technique eight years ago when I was dealing with a career-threatening injury, and believe that it was central to healing my injury.  Even after my relocation to Switzerland, I still study the technique today. I continually discover new ways to apply the Alexander Technique to my everyday life- from playing my flute, to cooking, picking up my baby, even riding the train!  Although the Alexander Technique is best-known to those in the Arts, it is a method that would serve any individual well who is looking to improve their body-use, reduce pain, or learn how to use her body in a healthier, more effective way.”  – Heather Holden, Flutist
For more information about the Swiss Association of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (SVLAT) view their official website.

Learn more about the Alexander Technique via this video created by the British Medical Journal:

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 *Photo Credit: Stephanie Gygax, www.stigy.net