Some individuals are mystified by their own back pain, overstress or loss of balance. They also see issues with their joints or muscles as structural and unchangeable. As an Alexander trainer, I hear clients say things like, "I've always walked like a duck," or, "My posture is just like my father's."
But, when they practice Alexander Technique, they are shocked that they can really make permanent improvements in the way they move, their degree of muscle strain, or the form of their posture. They discover how complex and changeable the body truly is. They find that by practicing the technique, they can improve their overall movement and gain maximum fitness for both body and mind.
We all have unconscious movement habits. Without realizing it, we put undue pressure on ourselves. We use more force than we need to lift a coffee pot or a weight bar. We slouch as we sit down, oblivious that our way of doing things brings a certain appearance to our bodies. We blame body issues for activities—Carpal tunnel syndrome for electronic function, tennis elbow for tennis.
The fundamental principle of the procedure is that when the muscles of the neck do not overwork, the head balances lightly at the top of the spine. The relationship between the brain and the neck is of critical importance. How we handle this relationship has implications in the rest of the body. As the boss - good or bad - sets the tone for an organization, the head / spine relationship - compressed or free - determines the quality of the body's overall coordination. Our neuromuscular mechanism is designed to operate in accordance with gravity.
The delicate equilibrium of the head sparks the body's anti-gravity response: a natural oppositional force in the torso that quickly directs us upward and invites the spine to lengthen, rather than contract, as we pass. Instead of slouching or keeping ourselves in a static pose, we should learn to mobilize this help mechanism and use it anywhere we go in the car, on the phone, in the gym.
Young children have this natural poise. If you watch a toddler in action, you will see an erect spine, free joints and a large head balancing easily on a little neck. A healthy child walks and plays with regal posture. Barring birth defects, we all began that way. But over the years, we often lose that spontaneity and ease.
An Alexander Technique teacher helps you see what in your movement style contributes to your recurring difficulties - whether it's a bad back, neck and shoulder pain, restricted breathing, perpetual exhaustion or limitations in performing a task or sport. Analyzing your whole movement pattern - not just your symptom - the teacher alerts you to habits of compression in your characteristic way of sitting, standing and walking. He or she then guides you - with words and a gentle, encouraging touch - to move in a freer, more integrated way.
Using Alexander Technique, you can learn how to eradicate unhealthy patterns, improve your self-awareness, and use your reasoning process to regain your original equilibrium. In a way, you're discovering something that your body actually knows deep down. With the Alexander Method, you come to learn a lot more of how the body functions and how to make it better for you. You can tap more of your internal resources, and begin on a path to enhancing your comfort and pleasure in all your activities.