The Alexander Technique is like an instruction manual on how to move with more ease, Yoga and Pilates are something you can apply it to so that you can do them better.
The Alexander Technique takes a holistic, preventative approach to health. Its focus is not on specific conditions or problems, but on giving you the knowledge and experience which will enable you to look after yourself as a whole. In an Alexander lesson, therefore, you are not simply receiving a treatment but are interactively learning a better and more healthy way of using yourself and avoiding potential problems. In the course of learning to improve our overall use of ourselves, many specific symptoms and complaints can be improved or eliminated, as the body is allowed to lengthen and expand into its natural, full three-dimensional presence. Circulation and breathing improve, and unnecessary pressure on joints is relieved. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to repair and rebalance themselves if we will allow them to.
Using both verbal instruction, and practical hands on guidance, simple activities such as sitting, standing and walking are explored to help you become more aware of the way you are using yourself. You may also be worked with whilst lying down on a padded table for part of the lesson to help release undue tension. Women might prefer to wear trousers, but normal clothing is fine. Each lesson is tailored to the needs of the individual.
A lesson is typically forty five minutes, although the first lesson will usually be an hour so that we can have more time to talk about your needs and interests.
It all depends. A recent study demonstrated that long-term benefits can be obtained from as few as six lessons, but that 20 lessons led to more significant change. Many people find lessons extremely interesting and helpful and continue having lessons well beyond this point.
There are no specific exercises to learn, rather, it is an exploration and re-education of the way we habitually use ourselves. Exercises tend to develop one part of the body, or one specific action, at the expense of the good overall functioning of the whole. The Alexander Technique therefore does not make use of formal exercises, though a daily period of semi-supine rest is highly recommended.
The Technique was developed in the 1890s by FM Alexander, an Australian actor who experienced career-threatening problems with his voice. Medical consultations did not solve the problem, so Alexander decided to find out what he was doing while acting that caused him to lose his voice.
He succeeded in developing a method which not only cured his specific problem but also appeared to be beneficial for a much wider range of conditions. He moved to London where he established a thriving practice teaching his technique, continuing to work until his death in 1955 at the age of 86. Since then the Technique has expanded steadily, and there are now several thousand teachers to be found across the world.