Uses of Alexander Technique
How to use the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is practical and convenient. Anybody can use it, in all kinds of circumstances. You do not need to set aside a special time or place to practise. The fact is, everyday situations offer infinite scope to change habits and transform ourselves for the better.
The prevailing experience in contemporary Western culture is that our bodies and minds are somehow distinct, so can be treated separately. The Alexander Technique takes the opposite view, regarding the SELF as unified body/mind/spirit. It teaches us to stay mindful; that is, fully in the present moment. For this reason, even though you may initially use the technique to resolve a particular problem or gain competency in a specific activity, once you apply the technique to all that you do, you will experience the greatest benefits.
The Alexander Technique works, literally, to bring people to their senses. You will come to feel what is really going on, so that you can stop doing whatever has been limiting or harming you. You can then let go of your old, unconscious patterns and move towards a more expansive, freer way of being.
Specific benefits of Alexander Technique
Alleviating Physical Problems
Many people turn to the Alexander Technique because they have specific problems for which they can find no lasting relief. Typical conditions helped by the technique include musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck and joint pain, sciatica, headaches, arthritis, occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), hypertension, breathing and stress-related disorders, voice strain, and neuromotor dysfunction.
Rehabilitation from Injury
The technique aids rehabilitation from injury. If you are recovering from illness or physical trauma, you need to reassess everything you do in the quest for a more efficient and balanced use of yourself. Rehabilitation exercises often focus only on restoring function to the injured part of the body. This narrow focus creates a risk of compensatory stresses occurring elsewhere. The Alexander Technique emphasises doing what is right for the whole person.
Rather than treating symptoms, the technique teaches us to change the underlying thought and movement patterns that cause symptoms. In some cases, the technique facilitates the efficacy of standard medical treatments, and in other cases it may remove the need for such treatments altogether.
As well as relieving pain and tension, the Alexander Technique is excellent for preventing problems from arising in the first place. For instance, it is recommended during pregnancy in order to prevent the onset of back pain. Anybody who works at a keyboard would do well to have lessons to prevent the incidence of OOS.
Many people learn the Alexander Technique to refine their skills in a particular activity, such as sport and fitness, the performing arts, or public speaking. The technique improves coordination, poise and mental clarity, gives confidence and reduces performance anxiety. It can also help prevent injuries, by teaching performers to be attuned to physical stress signals from their bodies and to respond appropriately.
Reducing the Impact of Stress
The Alexander Technique helps us take charge of the multitude of demands and stimuli that make up our daily lives. Each time we react to stressful circumstances in the same way, maybe with frustration, anxiety or depression, we reinforce this negative pattern. By making us aware of how directly our thoughts and emotions impact on our bodies, the Alexander Technique helps us relate more harmoniously with ourselves and each other, and to our physical surroundings. This approach can be profoundly liberating, helping us lead more discerning and constructive lives.
Workplace Health and Safety with Alexander Technique
In the workplace, the Alexander Technique is especially useful for:
The Alexander Technique is simple and practical. It is usually conveyed one-on-one, between a teacher and student, but may also be taught in small groups. Over a series of lessons, the student is taught how to coordinate themselves better, to relieve and prevent back, neck and joint pain, tension headaches, OOS-related symptoms, breathing disorders and a number of other complaints. Rehabilitation after injury is also greatly facilitated, because the whole person is considered, not just the damaged part.
In addition to pain relief and prevention, the Alexander Technique benefits people involved in all aspects of public performance. It is popular among performing artists and sportspeople, because it helps them gain composure so they can use their energy effectively and respond creatively to whatever arises in the moment. This benefit applies equally to people in demanding business situations, such as giving presentations or conducting negotiations.
Stress Management/Working Relations
Because the Alexander Technique does not treat the body and mind separately, many people who practise it over time find that it helps them deal better with stress generally. Rather than being controlled by their habitual reactions, people learn how to respond constructively to stressful situations. This leads to a more balanced emotional life, and consequently a more harmonious and productive working relationships with colleagues.
The Alexander Technique helps people take responsibility for their own improvement. Good posture and mental clarity are vital to positive health and performance, yet are difficult to acquire unless you know how. This is because the way we deploy our mental and physical faculties is dictated by habits accumulated over a lifetime. Unhelpful habits can only be remedied once we bring them to our conscious awareness. Becoming aware of habits and learning how to change them is the fundamental purpose of the Alexander Technique, from which all the above-mentioned benefits flow.