“I’ve done no exercises, yet my back feels great!” That is the result of a 100-year-old method called The Alexander Technique. This approach has been used by thousands of people worldwide including Paul McCartney, Sting, Julie Andrews, Aldous Huxley, Linda McCartney, Paul Newman, members of the British Royal Family and Robin Williams. Yet why don’t more people know about this non-invasive, life-changing method called The Alexander Technique? There are no ready answers, but one might guess its emphasis on observing and changing is not what we’re used to. Alexander Technique is offered at most music, dance and drama schools throughout North America, Europe and Australia.
However, it’s not limited to performers. Using the computer, brushing your teeth, walking to the car or picking up your socks can be a painful chore or can be morphed into grist for the mill. With guidance, everyday actions can be easier and stress free.At its core, Alexander Technique identifies compressive habits that might otherwise go unnoticed, habits that affect how we feel. For example, if your back hurts as you hunch over the computer keyboard, you might be in the grip of a habit combined with misinformation. In our modern world of “faster stronger more,” the Alexander Technique takes a step back, slows us down for a close look at how we’re doing what we’re doing. Take washing dishes, as another example. Are your legs tensed? Are you bending at a false joint, somewhere in your mid-back? That hurts. Instead, you can learn to use your knees and hips to bend, thus allowing the spine and back to expand naturally. Are your neck and shoulders chronically tensed? The root cause is the startle reflex.
Learning how to change this pattern is an essential part of the Alexander Technique.
Even our language describing our intentions can be unhelpful. Words affect us more than we realize. Take the word “posture.” Instead of it producing a positive result, this word is often stiffening. Or the words, “sit up straight.” This phrase usually leads to contraction and pain. Deepak Chopra said it best: “words are more than symbols, they are triggers of biological response.” You can substitute the words balance, ease and expansion to assist change. Our stress hormone, cortisol, goes down when we are expanded rather than contracted. How to expand without trying is the essence of the Alexander Technique. It is taught through gentle hands-on guidance and verbal cues, looking at everyday actions such as sitting, bending, reaching, breathing, lifting, standing and walking. Specialized uses helping the way you approach playing music, singing, acting, practicing martial arts, dancing …well, you get the idea.