What is Alexander Technique?

“You translate everything, whether physical or mental or spiritual, into muscular tension,” – F M Alexander

The Alexander Technique is often popularly seen as something to help a bad back or as a way of correcting posture. It is so much more than that. The Alexander Technique is a powerful tool that will enable you to perform everyday tasks and specialist activities with comfort and ease.

From experiencing vocal problems, Alexander carried out a lifelong study. He came to see that we often use excessive muscular tension in all our activities. Alexander learned that it is possible to carry out activities without the stresses and strains. He believed this was achieved by directing the power of the conscious mind.

Not Just "Posture"
Dr Miriam WohI, MB BCh

I'm going to explain a few basics about the Alexander Technique as I would to a lay audience so that you can see where it fits into Performing Arts Medicine. Performers are already familiar with the concept of oneself as an instrument and the Alexander Technique teaches us how to play that instrument. It is literally about how you use yourself and how you react in everyday situations at work, rest and play. How you sit, how you stand, walk, dance, sing or play an instrument. It is rather like driving lessons for human beings, teaching us how to drive ourselves around better in the world, how to sit, stand, walk, dance, sing etc.

The lessons teach us to react in the most appropriate way to whatever is coming at us; they also teach us, perhaps more importantly, how not to react. Like driving, it's best taught on a one to one basis. We work with hands-on (like dual controls). It's not just a postural technique. The teacher's hands convey a specific quality of muscle tone - the most appropriate muscle tone for the task being undertaken. Like driving lessons, it is best to have the initial lessons close together. As time goes on, the pupil takes more and more responsibility for how he uses himself, and more and more responsibility for how he reacts to what is coming at him on the roads of life.

He is driving his own human vehicle and once a basic course of 20 or 30 lessons has been completed, the pupil has enough knowledge and skill in the Technique to be well on the way to working on his own and putting the Technique into practice for ever afterwards. It's a thing that you can take as far as you like: we don't set a limit on it. After all, even virtuoso pianists have piano lessons'

Anybody here know how to drive a car? When you learn to drive, you learn a set of excellent driving habits. Some people acquire extra driving habits, like resting an arm on the window frame, like riding the clutch, like leaving the hand on the gearstick, like leaving the hands in the twenty five past five position instead of the "official" quarter to three, like driving over the speed limit. Nobody here does any of those, I am sure! But if we were to teach you to drive better again, it would involve unlearning some of the extra inappropriate habits which you had superimposed on the original "good" patterns.