Alexander Technique


Frederick Mathias Alexander (1869-1955) devised the technique at the end of 1900th century, he was an Australian actor who suffered from respiratory problems during his childhood and eventually lost his voice while he was performing. As doctors could not find what was wrong with him, Alexander hypothesised that his symptoms were caused by something he was doing while he was speaking, he explored the various parts of his body and noticed that he was creating unnecessary tension while reciting his part. After working extensively on his breathing Alexander’s condition improved dramatically and he spent the rest of his life helping people, he trained actors and singers with voice problems, and later people with other conditions who were sent to him by doctors sympathetic to his work. In 1904 Alexander came to England where he trained several practitioners. In his seventies, he suffered a stroke and as a result his hand and face were paralysed, he used his own technique to heal himself and doctors were stunned by his recovery.

How Does It Work

The Alexander technique is usually taught on a one-on-one basis, there are no set exercises and each session is individually tailored. The theory behind the technique is that individuals create unnecessary tension in their body because of bad posture, this tension can reduce their mobility and make them ill. Alexander believed that bad posture is acquired during childhood, babies always sit straight but when they grow they often adopt bad habits unconsciously as they copy adults behaviours.

The Alexander Technique is a physical and mental form of therapy as a large part of the practitioners’ work involves psychological re-education. Therapists teach their clients to use their body in a more efficient way, they make them aware of the way they perform activities and what optimum posture feels like before beginning to make adjustments, the goal is to produce maximum efficiency with minimum effort. During the first session the therapist assesses the movements of the client, he/she focuses on the use of the body exploring everyday functions such as sitting, standing or walking and applies gentle pressure on specific parts of the body. Practitioners guide their clients through a series of gentle movements, which involve a lengthening and widening of the body. Once the technique has been mastered it can be used at home. The session is restful, at the end of the treatment movements are easier and the bodies are more aligned. The technique is particularly popular with actors and musicians.

Conditions That Respond To Alexander Technique

Back pain
Chronic migraine
Gastro-intestinal disorders
High blood pressure
Musculo-skeletal problems
Postural pain in pregnancy
Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Respiratory disorders
Stiff neck

In comparison to other complementary therapies, the efficacy of the Alexander Technique is well documented. A UK study in 1995 showed that music students practising the technique performed better and were less anxious, and a study begun at Kingston Hospital in 1994 indicates that the technique can help chronic back pain. American studies have also indicated that the Alexander technique improved breathing and that it appeared to lengthen the neck muscles.

Research papers can be viewed on the internet at: http://nccam.nih.gov (Pubmed website) or visit the websites of organisations listed below.

If undertaking any therapy always check its suitability for a specific condition


The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT)

1st Floor
Linton House
39-51 Highgate Road
Tel: 020 7482 5135
Email: enquiries@stat.org.uk

American Society for the Alexander Technique
P.O. Box 2307
OH 45401-2307
Tel: (001) 800.473.0620


- Brennan R. The Alexander Technique Manual: A Step-By-Step Guide to Improve Breathing, Posture and Well-Being, ISBN: 1885203381
- Gelb M.J. Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique. ISBN: 0805042067
- Barlow W. The Alexander Technique: How to Use Your Body Without Stress. ISBN: 0892813857
- Alexander F.M., Maisel E. The Alexander Technique: The Essential Writings of F. Mattias Alexander. ISBN: 0818405066


http://www.paat.org.uk The site of the Professional Association of Alexander Teachers.
- http://directionjournal.com An online journal with access to a directory of practitioners.
- http://www.alexandercenter.com The Alexander Technique Center
- http://www.alexandertechnique.com The complete guide to the Alexander technique

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