What is the Alexander Technique?

Alice Olsher teaching the Alexander Technique to a musician.

Alice Olsher teaching the Alexander Technique to a musician.

The Alexander Technique is a method of mental and physical re-education taught individually, which has the effect of reducing unnecessary tension in all human activity. It teaches those who practise it how to use the body to best advantage and is widely recognized as an effective means of alleviating and preventing back disorders. Because it is concerned with poise and ease of movement, the value of the Technique has long been appreciated by performing artists and those taking part in sport, but there are many other areas where the relevance of the Technique in improving health and reducing stress needs to be carefully assessed. Children have poise as they grow and develop. Alexander felt working with children so they could use their natural poise as they grow would mean they would continue their knowledge as they become adults.

Who benefits from the Technique?

Alice Olsher works with an Alexander Technique student

During part of an Alexander Technique lesson students receive hands-on help as they lie on a table

In the course of their lives many people find themselves obliged to give up essential or enjoyable activities because of the strain involved. Lessons in the Alexander Technique often reveal that the source of strain is not found in the activity itself but in the way it is performed. All human activity related to the body requires muscular tension, whether we are threading a needle or lifting a sack of cement, and every action may be done with the right amount of tension (ease) or with too much (stress).

It is our misfortune through unconsciously acquired habits to become accustomed to unnecessary tension while carrying out the activities of our daily life. Over the years the effect of these harmful habits is to reduce mobility while at the same time the areas under constant tension become vulnerable to attack by disease.

The degeneration caused by stress can be prevented by the Alexander Technique because it works on the body as a whole with resulting benefit to its individual parts.

Because it is concerned with the quality of movement the Technique can benefit anybody with the interest to pursue it. The sportsman who has had to give up because of back-ache will be able to resume playing, while the keen competitor who has no physical problems may find their performance improves. Children benefit greatly from this work.