basic concepts of the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique has been taught for 100 years. Since it always addresses an individual in his/her differing life situations, the technique does not only follow a prescribed program. it is flexible and adapted to the needs of each situation. In this respect, it differs from the physical exercise programs of his time. F.M. Alexander saw himself as an „educator“ who addressed the „whole“ person, and whose job it was to redirect an already ongoing biographical process – life – to give it a new and more appropriate direction. The Alexander Technique attempts to awaken the as yet unused potential in each person. Although it cannot proceed mechanically in this matter, the method is by no means arbitrary. Its success is essentially dependent on the adequate application of the principles discovered and verified by Alexander. These help to structure and direct the individual learning process.
1. Self-awareness – what am I doing wrong?
Often local pain or functional disorders point us toward more complex „misuse“ of ourselves. With the Alexander Technique, we learn to explore the area the pain is coming from and perceive how it is connected to the whole body. We experience how we walk, stand or sit. We find out more about the way we move, and above all, which unnecessary or even harmful habits determine our bodily behavior.
Body awareness grows gradually. Teacher and student are confronted again and again with misperceptions („faulty sensory appreciation“), which disappear in the course of the intense learning process.
2. Un-learning habits – what can I stop doing?
Many of the movement patterns that we consider „perfectly normal“, „correct“ postures that we have been taught, physical reactions which we have subconsciously imitated, prove, upon closer examination, to be the cause of undue tension. What can we do? First of all: nothing, says the Alexander teacher. The natural impulse to eliminate the problem immediately usually makes the situation worse. „Inhibition“ is more helpful than activism when trying to release patterns of tension. We must learn to stop our automatic reactions in order to prevent involuntary tensing and tightening. Teacher and student seek to stop the „wrong“ in order to let the „right“ come into view of its own accord.
3. Reorientation – where am I going?
The student´s ability to focus and guide his attention grows as his body awareness develops. With verbal and tactile impulses, the teacher stimulates key places – neck, head and back – to come into a better relationship. The whole organism is newly „informed“, so that it can evolve in the right direction, step by step. With directions such as „let the neck be free“,„ let the head go forward and up“, „let the back lengthen and widen“ the desired movement sequence is „embodied“, it becomes more fully present in consciousness and awareness. Unfamiliar sensory experiences which our habit rejects as „wrong“ gradually begin to be felt as more appropriate and more enjoyable. As a result, our movements are more balanced, more natural.