What is it? What makes it necessary?
Whom can it help?
What are lesons like?
Who was Alexander?

What is it? What makes it necessary?

The Alexander Technique is a way you'll become more aware of balance, posture and movement in your everyday activities. This can bring into consciousness tensions that you previously didn't notice. It helps you differentiate between necessary (appropriate) and unnecessary (inappropriate) tensions and effort.

Posture: your fight against gravity
Posture is far more complex than just standing or sitting up straight.

It could be described as how you support and balance your body against the ever-present pull of gravity while you go about your daily activities.

From Alexander's own observations (and since confirmed by scientific research) it has become apparent that there are natural postural reflexes to organise this support and balance for you without any great effort, provided that you have the necessary degree of "relaxation in activity" to allow these reflexes to work freely.

The mechanisms of support and balance (for which "poise" is a useful term) can be seen working beautifully in most small children, but they are very delicate mechanisms, and are easily interfered with.

Unconscious adaptation of your body
The emotional and physical strains accumulated through your life can soon become fixed into your body in the form of chronic muscle tensions and patterns of distortion through the physical structure.

Adaptation does not just occur due to injury or the environment. Often, your lifestyle demands that you adapt, and because you have not been taught to be conscious of yourself, this process of adaptation goes on at an unconscious level. If your work demands that you sit at a desk all day, then your spine could curve and may develop an overcurvature, leading to adaptations of the specific parts involved. You have your limits, and excessive misuse will lead to a breakdown in an area of your spine, followed by potentially excruciating pain.

Teaching you conscious habit-reversal
Hence, the role of the Alexander teacher is to use gentle guidance with the hands to help unravel the distortions and encourage your natural reflexes to work again. In this way, a balance can be found between the necessary degree of muscle tone (tension) required to support your body against the downward pull of gravity, and the necessary degree of relaxation to allow you unrestricted movement, breathing, circulation and digestion.

The Alexander teacher also uses verbal instruction to help you become conscious of your own patterns of interference, and teaches you to project simple messages from your brain to your body that will help your `manual mechanisms of poise to function more freely.

This is why we call our work "re-education" and describe ourselves as teachers. For you, the Alexander Technique is a process of reversing and re-education. But this process is also a fascinating one of self-discovery!

You learn to become conscious of the way you habitually move, or "use" yourself, in your daily life. Habit denies choice, but when you know what's going on, then your range of choices and possibilities expands greatly.

Is your head screwed on the right way?
The human being has been described as "a tottering biped" (two-legged animal). Approximately 10% of your body weight is sitting on top of your spine-that's 4.5 to 6.5 kilos!

This arrangement is, in itself, a balancing mechanism. About two-thirds of your head is in front of the point where it sits on top of your spine. So your head is continuously falling forward. Deep muscles in your neck and back of your head are continuously bringing the head back into its central place.

The head is that part of the body where your major senses are situated:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch, and
  • Organs of balance, deep inside the inner ear.

Your head needs to be free on top of your spine so that the senses can achieve the maximum amount of information. This information is then relayed to your brain, and an appropriate response is determined.

Alexander discovered that a certain dynamic relationship of the head, neck and torso is the main factor in determining the most efficient use and functioning of the body.

How you re-learn this equilibrium is with a qualified Alexander Technique practitioner such as Karyn or Tara Chapman, of The Back School.

Whether you call it "poise", "well balanced" or "equilibrium" , take your first step NOW to achieve it because it gives you freedom from pain and stiffness. Contact us.