“The Alexander Technique is an intelligent way to solve body problems”. Developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, this hands-on healing method seeks to encourage all body processes to work more efficiently thus reducing stress and physical discomfort.
How does it work?
This may sound ironic, but the Alexander Technique is really not so much about learning as it is about ‘un-learning’. Life as we know it now is mechanical and stressful.
This means that right from our childhood we start accumulating unwanted muscular tension throughout the body. If unreleased, this tension leads to ailments such as back and neck pain, arthritis, sciatica, migraine, hypertension, insomnia and even depression. Obviously, harmful habits are bound to take their toll.
Even though medical science has been progressing faster than a forest fire on a hot afternoon, diseases and ailments have managed to win the race. The reason is quite simple. As stress and tension have increased, humans have adapted by using certain body techniques. We no longer sit, we slump. We no longer stand straight, we slouch or lean. These miniscule changes affect our entire system and trigger diseases. Modern medicine combats the problem by prescribing powerful painkillers that effectively silence the body’s natural warning system. This is no cure; it is just a case of ‘burying one’s head in the sand’.
Most of us are not even aware of the tension piling up within us. The Alexander Technique makes us aware of the balance, co-ordination and posture of the body while performing actions. This consciousness helps us to relieve discomfort and pain, or even avoid them altogether. The technique teaches us new ways of sitting, walking, standing and lying down that puts less strain on our muscles, bones and joints. Thus our body works more efficiently while keeping wear and tear to the barest minimum.
Since our mental state often reflects our physical state, people who practice this technique often describe the effect as ‘walking on air’ – so light and effervescent is the feeling that follows the release of tension. This means there is less mental strain and trauma. As a direct result, your general ability to cope with life increases.
The Alexander Technique takes the student through basic movements that allow you to regain your natural sense of coordination. There are no exercises or psychotherapy in this technique. There are no manual healing techniques either. A skilled teacher guides the student through various movements, observing and working with coordination. The student participates intelligently and slowly there is a gradual change in habits.
Benefits of Alexander Technique
The biggest benefit is of course, comfort and ease. Optimum functioning and minimal strain is what the Alexander Technique aims at. Improved posture and alignment, freer and more comfortable movement, increased strength and vitality and healthier breathing are the other benefits. Patients dealing with chronic pain resulting from injury or excessive stress use this technique to relieve pain. Performing artists use it to enhance their performing techniques, while children use it to increase their learning ability.
Even a perfectly healthy body can benefit by learning this technique. Habitual actions that undermine the natural rhythm of the body slowly destabilize us. Unless we consciously change the habits that we have taught ourselves, there is pain and discomfort at the far end of the tunnel. Through this technique you become aware of the underlying cause and learn to eliminate the tension that causes these ailments. Many of us put pains and aches down to age; Matthias Alexander pointed out that it’s all in the habit.