The Alexander Technique addresses how you do what you do.
Are you mystified by your recurrent back pain or excess tension? Do you see your lack of coordination and posture as unchangeable? Do you wish you could perform better at a favorite activity but something seems to be in the way? You may be looking in the wrong place for answers. What many of us fail to recognize, and what the Alexander Technique addresses, is just how much our daily movement and postural habits contribute to our problems.
Back pain is a major reason that people seek out an Alexander Technique teacher. However, students also come for help with chronic neck and shoulder tension, stress-related conditions, migraines, repetitive strain injuries, problems with coordination and balance, breathing, and vocal difficulties. Others study the Alexander Technique to help them perform better at a favorite activity, such as dance, music, or yoga. Still others study because they want to take a more active role in their health and well-being as they age.
The Alexander Technique is not something to do, as we do yoga or we do a series of stretching exercises. Instead, it is a way of bringing more practical intelligence to what you are already doing. Applying the concepts from the Alexander Technique can enhance any activity that you are already doing by teaching you how to be aware of restrictive habits that may be limiting your freedom of movement and overall coordination as well as contributing to poor posture and pain. Through study and application of the Alexander Technique you learn that you have more conscious choice than you might realize in posture, movement and reaction. Learning to harness this conscious choice can allow for more overall joy and ease in your activities.
Though it has therapeutic side effects, the Alexander Technique is primarily an educational method. The practitioner is called a teacher, the private session—a lesson, and the client—a student. In essence the Alexander Technique is simple but it is often very difficult to see your own habits at first. Therefore, it is most often taught in a series of one-on-one lessons with a certified teacher who can facilitate the learning process. In a typical lesson the teacher will use verbal instruction and gentle hands on guidance to help you examine and let go of restrictive habits that are holding you back from moving more easily. You may also work on releasing tension while lying down on a bodywork table. Over a course of lessons you will improve your skills of self observation, gain the ability to recognize and stop the habits that interfere with your body’s natural coordination, and ultimately apply the Alexander Technique on your own. You are usually asked to remove your shoes during a lesson but otherwise remain clothed.
Although far reaching in its effects, the Alexander Technique is quite simple in principle and can be easily understood by anyone. It invites us to stop looking to others for all the answers and to take some responsibility for the role we play in our problems—and teaches us the skills to do just that. Students who are most likely to benefit from study of the Alexander Technique have a willingness to learn about and take responsibility for themselves and do not currently experience a level of pain or dysfunction that would preclude learning.
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