- - Enhanced mind/body awareness
- - Improved posture and inner balance
- - Increased relaxation
- - Relief from pain and tension
"The Alexander Technique stresses unification in an era of greater and greater medical specializations. Its educational system teaches people how to best use their bodies in ordinary action to avoid or reduce unnecessary stress and pain. It enables clients to get better faster and stay better longer."
-Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D., Neurosurgical group of Westchester
"...the Alexander Technique doesn't teach you something new to do. It teaches you how to bring more practical intelligence into what you are already doing: how to eliminate stereotyped responses: how to deal with habit and change. It leaves you free to choose your own goal but gives you a better use of yourself while you work toward it."
-Frank Pierce Jones, Freedom To Change
F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) was an actor who, at the height of a promising career, became plagued by chronic laryngitis. He was prone to hoarseness, and even started losing his voice during performances. The doctors provided him with no cure that lasted longer than the period of rest he would take between performances. And, as soon as he would return to the stage, his vocal use would quickly deteriorate. During this frustrating stage, Alexander came to an important realization: it must be something he was doing while he performed that brought about the hoarseness.
Alexander decided to study what he was doing as he was performing. He set up a three-way mirror and watched himself as he went into speaking. He noticed that every time he went to speak he triggered a pattern of tension in his whole body: he tightened his neck, pulled his head back and down, shortened and narrowed his back, stiffened his legs, and gripped the floor with his feet. With years of experimentation, he discovered that if he aimed his head forward and up, allowing his back to lengthen, he could change the pattern of tension that was so habitual to him. He practiced this repeatedly by giving himself a set of mental directions - I want to let my neck be free, to let my head move forward and up, to let my back be long and wide, to let my knees move forward and away.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to bring about a consistent change in his voice. His habit was so strong that the moment he opened his mouth to recite, he triggered the pattern of tension. He realized it was not enough to give himself these directions alone. While continuing to direct himself, Alexander decided he must refrain from or inhibit speaking, until he could keep from retracting his head when he opened his mouth to speak. Alexander experimented and found that he could interrupt and change his pattern, if he truly inhibited his old poor habits.
After many years of intense study, Alexander not only freed himself from his vocal problems, but also developed a better use of himself in all his activities. Alexander discovered how to live without tension, anxiety and pain--how to maintain consciousness in all activities. He discovered that his vocal problems were directly related to the way he used himself.
With the support of many prominent doctors, Alexander taught his method to a wide range of people. He started working with actors on respiratory re-education, but soon discovered that his work was in demand for all kinds of ailments. After teaching for many years, he trained teachers to continue his work.
Today, there is a growing number of Alexander Teachers worldwide. Alexander Teachers must attend a rigorous three-year training program, consisting of 1600 hours of class time, with a student to teacher ratio of five to one. Teachers are certified through the American Society for the Alexander Technique, or an International Affiliated Society. The Alexander Technique is unique in its ability to expand mind/body awareness in everyday activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and talking. It enhances mind/body awareness, improves posture and inner balance, increases relaxation, and provides relief from tension and pain.