What is the Alexander Technique? It is a method that can help restore movement and agility, and reduce fatigue and tension caused by unnecessary muscular effort. It is an educational process through which the student learns about his or her own movement patterns. The student also learns that thinking can improve coordination.
Alexander Technique has been used for over a century as a way for actors and singers to improve vocal performance and technique. For musicians, it is a means whereby whole body coordination can facilitate the work of whatever body part is involved, whether playing a trumpet, a piano, or a cello.
That said, Alexander Technique is not only about performance, but can be applied to all aspects of daily living. Routine challenges such as sitting, standing, and walking can become easier and more efficient. Each lesson is tailored to the needs of the student, helping make everyday activities less taxing and pain-free.
Curious things, habits. People themselves never knew they had them.
— Agatha Christie
We all have things we do habitually: backing our car out of the driveway, writing with a pen or pencil, brushing our teeth. There are lots of things that we do without thinking because we don’t really need to think about how to do them anymore. I learned how to tie my shoelaces when I was 5, I learned how to ride a bike when I was 6, I learned how to drive a car with a manual transmission when I was 17. These are all examples of things that I can do without having to think about how to do them, because my brain and my muscles have figured out a way for me to do these things repeatedly: a neuromuscular pattern has been established so that I don’t have to think. However, that does not mean that I am doing any of these things in an optimal way, in the easiest possible way for me.
Alexander discovered that it is possible to override our habits and do activities in new and potentially better ways. It often means moving in a more biomechanically sound way. We have the movement potential of any other animal: the ability to move quickly, like a fox, or lightly, like a gazelle. Unlike animals, however, we must make a conscious choice to move with awareness, rather than always reverting to the well-established neuromuscular pattern.
The Alexander Technique addresses your whole coordination: you will realise the value of thinking about your whole self rather than breaking yourself into parts (such as, my shoulder does this, my knee does that). It improves your self-awareness. It is not a form of therapy, but an education, specifically a re-education around one’s approach to movement and thinking. The relationship in a lesson is teacher-student rather than therapist-patient. The idea is that, over time, you can learn how to use the Technique to help yourself. And it can help you with just about anything: driving your car, tying your shoelaces, getting in and out of the bathtub; it can improve your tennis serve, your golf swing, your violin performance, and your business presentations at the office. The list is endless. It all sounds rather magical and esoteric, but an improved kinesthetic awareness (your sense of self) can go a long way towards making just about anything better.