The Alexander Technique
Benefits experienced by people who study the Alexander Technique include:
A common reason people take lessons in the Alexander Technique is to improve posture. By teaching how to recognize and unlearn habits of tension that interfere with posture, the Alexander Technique can enable individuals of all ages to regain good posture for the long-term - free of stiffness and tension.
A leading contributing factor of musculoskeletal pain (and often its underlying cause) is unrecognized patterns of excess tension. People tend to respond to pain by tensing further, which usually exacerbates discomfort. Because it teaches how to recognize and unlearn these habitual patterns, the Alexander Technique is known for its effectiveness in relieving neck, back and joint pain for the long-term.
Improved ability to deal with stress
By teaching how to respond to any stimulus with less tension, the Alexander Technique enables you to better handle life’s stresses.
More comfortable computer use
Repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic back pain, headaches and stress-related disorders are common to many computer users. While changes to the work station — chair design, monitor and keyboard placement — can improve the ergonomics, the Alexander Technique teaches you how to use your body comfortably even when the work station is not ideal. With the Alexander Technique you can learn how to avoid injury and relieve the tension and pain often associated with computer use.
Your Alexander Technique teacher can teach you how to:
- sit upright without strain
- prevent spinal compression and muscular tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back
- improve range of motion in the joints
- reduce pressure on the keyboard and mouse to relieve stress on the wrist and prevent carpal tunnel injury
- become more aware of your body's signals and signs of distress so you can relieve tension before it escalates to pain
- breathe properly to prevent fatigue and calm the nervous system
- restore balance - during and after work
Athletes – amateur and professional - use the Technique to improve strength, increase endurance, enhance flexibility and increase speed and accuracy of responsiveness.
Proper form and degree of muscular tension are as important as how strenuously or how often you exercise. Through study of the Technique you gain the skills to move with ease and prevent pain while you improve breathing, balance, posture and endurance. Together, you and your Alexander teacher can explore how to solve movement problems and optimize your performance, adding to your achievement and enjoyment. The principles of the Technique apply to any activity — tennis, golf, skiing, running, baseball, horseback riding, basketball, etc. By demonstrating principles of efficient movement, the Alexander teacher offers the fitness enthusiast a way to prevent injury and improve overall performance.
Public speakers use it to improve vocal projection and overall voice quality.
Business professionals find it enhances presentation skills and increases confidence.
Performing artists use the Alexander Technique as an invaluable resource throughout all phases of the creative process from conception through performance.
The Technique helps performers develop equanimity in response to the potential stressors of practicing, rehearsing, auditioning, competing and performing. It also offers a way for performers to recover from the demands of preparation and performance. Performing artists find that the Alexander Technique enhances stage presence, reduces anxiety and helps prevent strain and injury. It provides a way for performers to develop flexibility and responsiveness in all performing arts skills. By refining sensory awareness performers learn to reduce extraneous effort and discover a greater range of expression. This enhances a performer’s authenticity and power in performance. Performing artists often report that the Alexander Technique enables them to bring together diverse aspects of training and to bridge more easily from theory to practice and from academic classroom to stage.
Actors: Actors reach a state unimpeded by habitual tensions. Character development can then proceed more freely and authentically. Actors develop greater emotional accessibility, spontaneity and a more vital presence and connection with the audience.
Musicians: Instrumentalists find ease of postural support to play efficiently throughout demanding schedules, preventing overuse injuries, increasing endurance and enhancing emotional expression. Vocalists develop a well-supported voice, preventing vocal strain and balancing strength of expression with ease.
Dancers: Dancers find a path to optimal dynamic coordination in which the appropriate postural muscles are activated for stability and all other muscles are free for movement. Applying the Technique over years of dance training and performance can contribute to injury prevention and career longevity.
Numerous universities, conservatories, orchestras, theater companies, and performing arts festivals around the world offer the Alexander Technique as integral to performing arts curricula and skill development. The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory of Music, American Dance Festival, Yale School of Drama, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Royal Shakespeare Company and many other notable institutions offer Alexander Technique instruction through classes and one-on-one lessons.
Including the Alexander Technique in the curriculum of performing arts programs enhances its appeal to prospective applicants. Student endorsements attest to improvements in movement, breathing, vocal production and performance. If you are interested in having an Alexander Technique master class or residency, contact AmSAT. A list of schools in which AmSAT members are teaching the Alexander Technique can be found here.
Renowned performers who have studied the Alexander Technique include: Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ben Kingsley, Julie Andrews, William Hurt, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Paul McCartney, Kelly McGillis, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hilary Swank, Annette Bening, Patti Lupone, Paul Newman, Sting, Maggie Smith, Mary Steenburgen, Robin Williams, Joanne Woodward and Trisha Brown.
The Alexander Technique has much to offer women before, during and after childbirth.
Before pregnancy, study of the Technique will enable you to unlearn harmful postural habits while improving balance and coordination. This will help prepare you for the changes your body will experience in pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your Alexander teacher can teach you how to hold and carry yourself to reduce, if not eliminate, back pain commonly experienced with increased weight in front of the body. The baby's growth limits your internal space and organs become compressed. Digestive problems and shortness of breath often follow.
Learning how to hold and carry yourself differently allows more internal space for both you and the baby. With more breath and mobility, it will be easier for you to stay active. Lessons in the Alexander Technique can enable you to coordinate breathing and strengthen pelvic muscles as you prepare for labor and delivery.
After the birth of your child, you can continue to use what you learn to enable nursing to be more comfortable and to more easily handle the constant lifting and carrying that come with parenthood.
Do the benefits wear off when I stop taking lessons?
After a course of study, you can expect the benefits to stay with you as long as you keep in mind what you've learned. For most people the benefits stay with them for a lifetime