The goal of the Alexander technique is to evaluate and change poor posture and movement habits that may cause muscle and body strain and tension. At the same time, an Alexander instructor provides instructions about how to relax and line up parts of the body while doing everyday activities, such as sitting, standing, and walking. People using this technique feel that it can correct the effects of years of poor body movements that lead to muscle strain, pain, and problems in the body while improving your body's awareness, balance, and ability to relax.
Frederick Mathias Alexander was an Australian-born actor whose frequent hoarse throats led to a new system of therapy. Many visits to physicians did not improve his problem so he began to observe his posture in a mirror while practicing his roles. While watching himself, he noticed that he lowered his head, tensed his neck muscles, and arched his back. Over the next several years, he corrected these poor habits and his throat problem disappeared. Later, he developed the techniques to help identify and correct poor posture and taught others.
A meeting with an Alexander instructor is usually private to address your specific problems. The meeting will involve the instructor watching you stand, sit, and move about so he can observe your weaknesses. After observing, the teacher will adjust your posture and help retrain your muscles to provide better movement with less effort. The instructor will also try to increase your body awareness (often referred to as "thought in activity").
Each visit lasts 30 to 45 minutes and a course consists of 15 to 30 lessons. After each visit, the instructor will provide you with simple exercises to be done at home. Initially, it may be difficult to retain the proper postures because the poor postures have become deep habits after years of slouching and stooping.
The Alexander technique helps to reduce muscle strain and tension. It can also improve your balance, coordination, increase your well-being, and promote relaxation. There are more than 1500 Alexander technique care givers in the world.
For more information:
1. Cassileth BR: The Alternative Medicine Handbook, 1st ed. WW Norton & Company, NY, NY; 1998.
2. Inglis B & West R: The Alternative Health Guide. Alfred A. Knopf, NY, NY; 1983.
3. Kastner MA: Alternative Healing: The Complete A to Z Guide to Over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, CA; 1993.
4. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.
5. Woodham A & Peters D: Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, 1st ed. Dorling Kindersley, NY, NY; 1997.