What is the Alexander Technique and how can it help me?

"We take ourselves wherever we go". So many times have we heard this statement. But what is "ourselves"? Is it our personality or our whole psycho-physical makeup? F.M. Alexander (1860-1955) believed in a holistic approach to health: that the whole person must be dealt with in order to make the person whole.

When we are young, we don't worry about the various aches and pains that bother us. We are convinced they will soon disappear. As we age, these tensions become more pronounced, telling us something is not right. They begin to demand that some action be taken. Before we know it, we are consulting a myriad of mainstream and/or alternative therapies, always with a cure in mind.

Alexander did not believe in cures. In the preface to the new edition of his book "The Use of the Self" he states: "The real solution of the problem lies in the wide acceptance of the principle of prevention instead of cure, and the realization, at long last, that the most valuable knowledge we can possess is that of the use of the self and of the means whereby the human individual may progressively raise the standard of his health and general well-being".

When he developed voice problems in the 1890's, he searched for a cure. Finding no remedy from traditional medicine, he embarked on a journey to ascertain the cause and discovered principles which led to a process of change for his habits of poor body use. This involved a new way of thinking and responding to life. Thus, the focus of the Alexander Technique is on process rather than "cure". Alexander believed such cures only led to dealing with specific parts of the body. By working with the total pattern of his habits, he not only resolved his vocal problems but improved his well-being on all levels.

The Alexander Technique provides tools to improve the entire structure and tone of the body. Modern civilization has, according to Alexander, made our kinesthetic sense unreliable. Such inventions as chairs, soft couches and car seats encourage a collapse in the lower back without our conscious recognition of the state. This often leads to many nerve-related and skeletal injuries. 

When a person visits an Alexander Technique teacher with a specific complaint such as sciatica, tendinitis, deteriorating posture, headaches, neck problems etc., he/she is guided toward overcoming the ailment by means of a re-education of total body use and as a result, gradually learns to personally apply the principles of the Technique. Consequently, the Alexander Technique is a genuine instrument of self-help.

The process of restoring improved co-ordination is best achieved in a series of private lessons where, through gentle, non-invasive touch, the pupil is provided with the necessary experiences and encouraged to observe the thought processes and tensions associated with his/her activities in everyday life. As the principles are assimilated, the student begins to develop the capability to make his/her own discoveries, leading to greater freedom of movement, poise and reduced stress.

What are the benefits of the Alexander Technique?

A series of private lessons can alleviate backaches, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, injuries from accidents, herniated discs, Repetitive Strain Syndrome and scoliosis-related problems. 

In addition, private lessons can provide greater overall mobility, improvement in skills (eg. golf, musicianship) and performance (eg. acting, dance, public speaking).

To further discuss how the Alexander Technique can help you, contact Howard Bockner at 416-631-8127 or forward an e-mail to alextech@rogers.com.