The Alexander Technique
Engaging Minds and Integrating Motion
The Alexander Technique is an effective way of dissolving habits of thought and movement that interfere with our ability to function with poise and flexibility.
The Alexander Technique
- teaches a way to move with Poise, Power and Pleasure
- challenges the limits which we, rather than nature, impose on ourselves
- cultivates thoughtful habits that serve rather than enslave us
- explores the dynamic unity of the mind and body at rest and in activity
- allows us to carry out the simple and more complex functions we call living with greater dimension
F.M. Alexander and his work
Having developed chronic voice troubles and enjoying only temporary relief by following his doctor’s advice, Alexander turned inward and asked the question:
Could it be something I am doing in using my voice that causes this condition?
He came to understand that there exists an innate, dynamic and critical relationship of the neck to the head, the neck and head to the torso and limbs: a Primary Control that regulates tensional balance throughout the musculature to facilitate coordination for ease in motion. It’s misuse greatly interferes with proper functioning of the organism, accelerating the wear and tear that contributes to discomfort and injury.
Alexander devised a means for consciously preventing the improper orientation of the head to neck and back at rest (an inner state of poise, or a dynamic resting pattern, ready to be mobilized) and in activity (movement in space whose quality is based on the resting pattern).
His experiences demonstrated, in a time where disease was clearly divided into purely physical or mental categories, that an individual, under all circumstances and in all spheres of human activity, responds to a stimulus as a psycophysical whole. Something we are now more familiar with while treating dis-eases and educating ourselves in the art of living.
He dedicated his lifetime to teaching the principles of his technique. His work is taught throughout the world.
A detailed account of his brilliant journey can be found in The Use of the Self by F.M. Alexander.
Change involves carrying out an activity against the habit of life.
A Question of Habit …
Regardless of its applications, the process of stopping, recognizing and transforming the harmful and often unconscious habits that limit our ability to thrive, is in essence what your lesson is about.
The recognition of the force of habit, the ongoing impulse to do things in the same/familiar way, and its constant influence on our functioning is one of the five principles that define the A.T.
In weeding out posture related concerns you will also be establishing, and with practice, cultivating and with time be refining your ability to skillfully change course at will, so that you may enjoy thoughtful, flexible habits that serve rather than enslave.
The five principles are set out by Patrick Macdonald, master teacher trained by Alexander, and teacher trainer, in The Alexander Technique As I see It, 1989.
I think it might be useful to list the items that, taken together, I believe makes the Alexander Technique into one unlike any other. They are:
- Recognition of the force of habit
- Inhibition of reaction to stimulus to overcome wrong habit
- Recognition of faulty sensory awareness
- The giving of Directions
- The Primary Control
If one meets a technique that has some similarity to the Alexander Technique, run these five simple rules over it and see what is missing.
Lessons consist of deepening the practical understanding of these 5 principles under the hands and guidance of a ATC/CANSTAT certified teacher of The Alexander Technique in activities such as Constructive Rest Position as well as standing, walking, sitting and other more specialized activities.
Mr Alexander created what may be truly called a physiology of the living organism. His observations and experiments have to do with the actual functioning of the body, with the organism in operation, and in operation under the ordinary conditions of living: rising, sitting, walking, standing, using arms, hands, voice, tools of all kinds.
Prof. John Dewey, american philosopher and educator
Horizons. Drawing: Roxanne Lafleur
Stool. 3 photos: Roxanne Lafleur