Named after Frederick Matthias Alexander (20 January 1869 – 10 October 1955), the Alexander Technique teaches the practitioner methods that enable the improvement of, detrimental, physical postural habits that may have become ingrained or have become conditioned responses. It is claimed that the technique can improve performance, Proprioception and relieve chronic stiffness, tension and stress.
It was in the 1890’s when Alexander developed the principles of the technique as he battled to alleviate breathing problems and hoarseness during public speaking as he pursued his passion for Shakespearean acting. It is a form of education that is applied to recognize and overcome reactive, habitual limitations in movement and thinking.
When Alexander’s throat became extremely hoarse during his orations, he sought medical advice but the doctors could find no physical cause. Deciding on self-help, Alexander began observing his posture and movement, looking in mirrors at his posture, while trying to diagnose what was causing his problem.
Over the next nine years he developed the Alexander Technique. He felt that the
restoration of his voice was nothing short of a miracle for him and he decided that his system could work for others, naming it “Primary Control”.
The hypothesis is that the head, neck, and torso are primary factors in the determination of function, movement, and posture. Through observation and trial, he learned that by compressing any of these, the body did not function efficiently. He noted that in his own case, this had led to poor posture, resulting in the hoarseness of his voice. He also realised that his new system would be beneficial for others with different problems.
Alexander Technique is usually taught, or worked, on a one to one basis. It is occasionally taught in group sessions although this is not standard practice. The Alexander Technique usually requires the practitioner to employ physiotherapy techniques in addition to postural education in order for the client to have more efficient use of their body.
The idea of the Alexander Technique is to provide a physiotherapy that will allow muscles to become relaxed. This is said to give people back the posture they should have had all along. The body is worked with the human form as a whole, and so doing the Alexander Technique is said to have effects for all parts of the body.
Alexander’s technique addresses postural issues, alleviating the symptoms relating to them and is, generally, not used to treat major disabilities or illnesses.
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Further information on the Alexander Technique including case studies, etc.
- What is the Alexander Technique?
- Professional Association of Alexander Teachers
- Alexander Technique International
- The Alexander Technique
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