Alexander Technique

  • Alexander Technique
    Alexander Technique

    BMJ article supporting the use of Alexander technique


About the Alexander Technique

“Life changing: freedom of movement, freedom from pain, improved alertness, the ability to learn again, improved confidence, better health, improved breathing, inner calmness, to mention but a few changes.” (The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique pupil survey 2006.)

Do you want to feel more alive & poised…improve your posture…be free of aches and pains…be more confident and effective?

The Alexander Technique teaches the skilful “use of the self” – how we move, how we stay still, how we breathe, how we learn, how we organise our awareness and focus of attention and, above all, how we choose our reactions in increasingly demanding situations.

The Technique is not a therapy: there are no exercises, and no special clothing or equipment is needed. The teacher works with each student to help them to shed the mental and physical habits that have built up since childhood, restricting mobility and alertness. As babies and toddlers we were alert, responsive and mobile, and the Alexander Technique seeks to bring us back to that ‘good use’ of ourselves that is an untapped potential for well-being in all of us.

Students of the Technique report a wide range of benefits: you get stronger, you become both more relaxed and more alert, aches and pains fade, you feel calm, confident and self-reliant, you have more stamina, you think more clearly, you recover from injury more quickly, you cope with stress better and your performance improves.

BMJ front cover

Research supports the use of Alexander Technique

Research? – The BMJ like it!

In this 2008 issue they write up some great research showing that Alexander technique lessons give patients with chronic and recurrent back pain better relief than massage. Read the full article here…

Who was F.M Alexander?

F.M. Alexander (1869 – 1955) was a successful actor and reciter in his twenties when he encountered voice trouble that no doctors could cure. Through a long journey of experimentation and diligent research he discovered fundamental principles and truths about the way that our thinking affects our muscles, bodies and brains.

Having established a highly successful practice in Australia, Alexander set sail for London in 1904 bearing letters of recommendation and introduction from several eminent Australian doctors. Alexander rapidly established a high reputation in London for helping ‘hopeless cases’. Although he was a contentious character and divided opinions in his day, Alexander also won the support and gratitude of an impressive list of pupils that included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Stafford Cripps, Aldous Huxley and George Bernard Shaw, as well as many of the most successful stage performers of the era. The president of the BMA, Dr. Peter Macdonald, was a keen advocate of Alexander’s work and his son Patrick received lessons from Alexander from the age of 12, going on to become one of the first group of teachers trained by Alexander from 1933.

A movement of doctors within the British Medical Association tried, and almost succeeded, in having principles of the Alexander Technique integrated into doctors’ compulsory training in 1936. Alexander was also keen to work with children, both to help those with problems and to pre-empt future troubles for his pupils. He established a school in Holland Park which re-located to Massachusets during World War II, and which took on many children regarded as inadequate by mainstream schools of the day.

Several of the teachers trained by Alexander on his Teacher Training Course went on to found their own Teacher Training Schools from which today’s training courses have stemmed.

Decades later Alexander’s principles were proved and substantiated by medical scientists and anthropologists.

Neuro-physiologists are continuing to make discoveries that show why the Alexander Technique works so well.

Useful Resouces…

STAT: The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique – the professional body for teachers of the Alexander Technique in the UK, to which we both belong.
http://www.stat.org.uk

AlexOx: the umbrella website for Alexander Technique teaching in Oxfordshire:
www.alexox.com

The NHS page on addressing back pain with the Alexander Technique. This describes the ‘ATeam’ trials on back pain and the Alexander Technique and explains some of the results:
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/08August/Pages/BackpainandAlexandertechnique.aspx

A ‘Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique’ – a global online resource
www.alexandertechnique.com

Alexander Books – the most comprehensive UK resource for books about the Alexander Technique:
www.alexanderbooks.co.uk or (01344) 441 647

BOOKS:

If you only read one book, make it ‘How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live’ by Missy Vineyard (- see our shop link here and buy it through our Amazon shop).
(Nation Books, 28th May 2007.)

If you want to read Alexander’s own writing, start with ‘The Use of the Self’, widely available in paperback (- see our shop link here and buy it through our Amazon shop).

Our Practitioner: Azize Stirling