Alexander Technique teaches you how to reduce
tension and effort and improve
posture, coordination, and breathing by changing how you use your
mind and body, allowing you to enjoy increased freedom and ease in activity.
Strain or Poise?
you practice any activity, such as playing a musical instrument or driving a
car, you repeat and perfect muscular patterns that become automatic
habits. Often these habits involve too
much tension or postural imbalances that cause
unnecessary strain, tight neck and back muscles, collapsed posture, stiffness
or lack of mobility. Habits like this, repeated over time, can interfere
with performance and cause recurrent or chronic problems. Addressing this
problem goes deeper than correcting technical faults to changing the basic
organization of coordination.
coordination and unnecessary tension can be caused by something you are doing:
• By how you go about coordinating
yourself in activity
• By how you react to stress
Alexander Technique can help you change on the most basic level what you are
doing with your body while engaging in any activity. You can learn to stop inefficient movement patterns and restore poise and
ease through intentional thinking.
F. M. Alexander (1869-1955) as a
young Shakespearean actor in Australia developed chronic laryngitis while performing. Determined to restore the use of his voice,
he carefully watched himself in a mirror while speaking, and observed that
excess muscular tension accounted for his vocal problem. As he sought to solve his vocal problems, he
discovered a principle that profoundly influences coordination and well-being: when neck tension is reduced, the head no
longer compresses the spine and the spine is free to
lengthen and the back to widen.
Alexander found that preventing his
habitual response of excess tension allowed a beneficial change in his basic
coordination to happen. Gradually, Alexander learned to restore his own natural
capacity for ease, solved his vocal problems, and evolved a unique teaching
method that encourages the body to work more efficiently as an integrated
practical terms, the Alexander Technique focuses on the head, neck and back
relationship as the key to bringing about greater ease and economy of movement.
If the head and neck are in a state of dynamic balance and the back is
expanding and lengthening, there is a resulting poise of the head, release of
the throat, mobility of the ribs in breathing, freedom of the joints,
elasticity and steadiness of the torso, which facilitate performance.
the Alexander Technique
Alexander developed a specific method for
changing habits of use. The student learns to think
in a new way about movement: to mentally prevent the old habits and allow the
new coordination—neck to be free, head to go forward and up, back to lengthen
and widen—while the teacher guides the student to bring about the improvement
associated with those conditions. The
student gradually develops the skill to recognize and prevent habits of misuse
and to coordinate her/himself in a healthier manner while engaging in simple
activities—such as sitting and standing—or complex skills such as working at a
computer, playing the violin, or practicing martial arts.
While the ideas behind the Alexander Technique
are simple, learning to change deeply ingrained habits does not happen
overnight. In lessons, you will be learning a new skill: how to change a habit.
Just as in learning any new skill, we cannot predict exactly how long that will
take, because everyone is unique. While workshops and classes can introduce the
principles of the Technique, the most effective way to learn these new skills
is a series of private lessons that insure individualized instruction geared to
your habits and learning process. Generally, a recommended series is 20-30
private lessons; however, the instructor cannot assess your habits and learning
process without working with you.
The Alexander Technique is taught in a wide
variety of academic and professional settings. In the performing arts, the
Technique has been taught at the Juilliard
the American Dance Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, The Royal Academy
of Dramatic Arts, London Royal College of Music, American Harp Society, Piano
Wellness Seminar, and dozens of other performance programs around the world.
The Technique is taught at many universities in the United
States including New
of North Texas,
of Minnesota, Northwestern,
and many others.
Students of the Alexander Technique range from such
well-known actors as Kevin Kline, Paul Newman, William Hurt, Ralph Fiennes, Heath
Ledger, Daniel Radcliffe, and
John Cleese; to world-reknowned
musicians such as conductor Sir Colin Davis, guitarist Julian Bream, Sir Paul
McCartney, and Sting; and include Nobel Prize winning scientist Nikolaas Tinbergen, philosopher
John Dewey, and writers Aldous Huxley, Robertson
Davies, and George Bernard Shaw, among others.