Alexander Technique methods are becoming increasingly popular in the alleviation of ailments relating to back and neck pain; they are also thought to have a range of other positive effects. Since the principles were first developed in the late 19th Century, countless individuals have benefitted from the simple process of examining the body’s subconscious movements and adjusting them to become more natural and comfortable as way to relieve symptoms. This article explains the history of the technique, as well as how it works. It looks at how you can best learn the principles behind it and the way to find the best teacher and resources for your own requirements.
The Alexander Technique is an educational process named after the Australian actor Frederick Matthias Alexander. Plagued by bouts of ill health that reduced his speaking voice to a hoarse whisper, Alexander was disappointed by voice professionals’ and doctors’ failures to suggest a cure. Instead, he began his own rigorous study of his speaking habits to isolate the causes behind his symptoms. He observed that by concentrating on the way his body reacted and moved when speaking, he could recognise ‘harmful’ movements that were inhibiting his voice as it emerged. On a wider level, he saw that even the thought of public speaking caused unwanted tensions in his muscles that affected the quality and clarity of his speaking voice. Over a period of years, he worked on ways of consciously controlling his actions, to alter bad patterns and introduce new, healthier responses. His success manifested itself in his acting career and others began to seek his help for similar issues. Realising that re-educating his own body in this way had brought about an overall improvement in his health aside from public speaking, he developed his Alexander Technique teachings further. In the later years of his life, he concentrated wholly on teaching the Alexander Technique exercises and theory to some 80 individuals and to publishing four books outlining his methodology.
But what did Alexander discover about his own posture and how can simple changes to that have such beneficial effects? By studying himself in mirrors, he observed that it appeared to be an excess of tension in his neck and body that was causing his difficulties in speaking publicly. This increased consciousness enabled him to focus on improving his stance and posture. He found that the best way to approach correcting the wrong use of muscles was to inhibit these harmful habits; the body then relies more on natural instincts, those used automatically by young children. Restoring a healthier overall co-ordination of muscles enables us to balance and move better; and in maintaining a better posture, we can carry out our day to day activities without straining. Carrying out this process has lifelong benefits: it helps prevent premature ageing, allows the body to function and heal more easily, and improves flexibility. Alexander Technique posture principles can therefore go straight to the heart of painful symptoms such as neck and backache. Using Alexander Technique posture correction can have hugely positive effects on our outlook: self-confidence and concentration skills are reported to improve by some users of the methodology, for instance.
The internet carries a wealth of information about Alexander Technique lessons, of which the above is just a very brief summary. There is a lot more to read on the subject, if you are inclined to find out more in-depth information about the theories of F. Matthias Alexander. There are his own four books on the subject and many other texts have been published, explaining the principles. You will also find helpful videos demonstrating the Alexander Technique for back pain, for instance. But, is this something you can teach yourself by using these resources? It is perfectly possible to get a good feel for the way the technique works from books and videos. However, finding a qualified teacher can accelerate the learning process and help you avoid common mistakes if you want to benefit from the positive effects it can bring about more quickly. An experienced teacher understands human anatomy, provides a fresh pair of eyes from an external point of view and can rapidly identify the harmful habits that inhibit natural movement. Do you need to attend individual sessions with a teacher, or are group ones just as good? Well, group sessions are often invaluable for gaining a quick feel for the principles, but one-to-one tuition is more likely to achieve faster results.
So, where can you find a qualified teacher of Alexander Technique London based? Again, your first port of call will usually be the internet, although some doctors will be able to recommend qualified teachers in your area. If you do not have a word of mouth recommendation to work with, you can do no better than to look at the website of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT). Founded in 1958, in the UK by the teachers who were trained by Alexander himself, this organisation seeks to promote the highest standards in teacher training and professional practice. The website enables you to find a member teacher who has qualified in the Alexander Technique by studying an extensive three-year training course. All members must adhere to the Society’s code of conduct and will have undergone appropriate Disclosure Barring Service (formerly CRB) checks. They will also carry professional indemnity insurance for your peace of mind. Whether you are looking for teachers of Alexander Technique Ealing located, in Fulham or elsewhere across London, one resource you may wish to try is Alexander Principle. Its teacher, Susanna Scouller, is a full member of STAT and has years of experience in both using and teaching these valuable techniques.
My name is Susanna Scouller. I know from personal experience how life-changing Alexander Principle teachings can be to those who suffer intermittent or long term debilitating pain from conditions such as backache. My experience with the Alexander Technique has also enabled me to assist many other people from all walks of life, from athletes looking for ways to improve their performance to older people looking to regain ease of movement as their body ages. You can read more about my story and the way I teach on my website at http://www.alexanderprinciple.co.uk. Please don’t hesitate to contact me on 020 7821 0007 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to book a private lesson.