ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Alexander Technique History

Updated on January 7, 2018

Frederick Matthias Alexander was an Australian, born in 1869. As a young man, his promising career as an actor was jeopardised by vocal problems.

Determined to help himself, Alexander began a process of research and experimentation that lasted a number of years. He would observe himself in mirrors as he recited, to see what he was doing that damaged his voice. What he saw was a habit of tightening his neck and compressing his larynx. This degree of tension also interfered with his breathing. He came to realise that this pattern was also present when he went about ordinary activities. With time, Alexander managed to prevent his problems from recurring, by learning to control his habitual response to the stimulus of speaking. Instead, he focused his thoughts on simply keeping his neck relaxed.

The groundbreaking discovery Alexander made was this; by releasing tension in his neck, he allowed his “righting reflex” against gravity to operate naturally. When he stopped pulling his head back and down, his back lengthened and his torso widened. He found he could balance on his feet without gripping and was better coordinated in movement. His breathing and speaking improved greatly.

Alexander’s graceful bearing and resonant voice inspired other performers to seek his help. In 1904, he left Australia for London to continue teaching his work, which had evolved to include hands-on guidance as well as verbal instruction. In London, medical professionals began referring people to him and supporting his ideas. He also gained influence among eminent people such as educator John Dewey, and writers George Bernard Shaw and Aldous Huxley. In 1931, Alexander established a training school for teachers of his method. He died in 1955, aged 86.

The Alexander Technique has continued to evolve, and is now taught worldwide. Alexander’s legacy includes four books. The best known is “The Use of the Self”, which describes his understanding that the whole person, the “Self”, is not a mechanical assemblage of parts, but a psycho-physical unity. His insights foreshadowed the discoveries of contemporary neuroscience, which confirm the indivisible link between mind and body and the harmful effects of stress on the immune system.

How to learn the Alexander Technique?

Individual lessons
The technique is taught over a series of lessons between a teacher and a student. The lessons - which usually last 30 to 45 minutes - will focus on helping you “Use your Self” in a more attentive and intelligent way. Basic activities, such as walking, standing and sitting, bending and lifting, breathing and speaking, are explored. You will learn to observe when you are using excessive effort to perform such activities, and to accomplish them in a more balanced, coordinated manner. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, your teacher can help you apply your new “way of going” to specific activities that you do in your work and recreation time.

Duration of study varies, and will depend on your personal needs and intentions. To enjoy lasting benefits, consider taking regular lessons (once a week or more) over at least four to six months.

During a lesson, students remain dressed throughout. Some lessons may take place on a therapy table or lying on the floor, so wear comfortable clothing. After the initial lessons, you will learn to internalise the teacher’s cues, or “directions”, to release tension and deploy your energy more effectively, first under the teacher’s guidance and then progressively on your own.

Group courses
The Alexander Technique is sometimes taught in small groups. Group work is an excellent way to learn about the technique by observing, exploring and sharing experiences with others. However, it is advisable to complement this with individual lessons designed specifically for you, to help you make more subtle discoveries about yourself, and to refine your movement skills further.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)