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Unhelpful and unconscious postural and emotional habits can, over time, cause distortions in the body which are often the underlying cause of many back, neck, joint or stress problems. Some of these distortions of the musculoskeletal system will be cultural – a product of our Western lifestyle – and then there will be the personal distortion patterns as well, all of which will probably have developed over the years outside our awareness.
Old Habitual Standing (pictured left)
Until we address these unconscious habits, such distortions can only become more entrenched and cause us more and more restriction, pain or stiffness as the years go by. With the help of an Alexander Technique teacher, the ‘student’ can become more aware of his or her individual habit pattern and can then both ‘unlearn’ the habitual misuse and ‘re-learn’ the original balanced and effortless posture and good use of the body with which we were all born.
Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869 – 1955) developed his Technique at the end of the nineteenth century and although now it is taught to people from every walk of life, it was initially designed for performers and so, for them, there is the added bonus of improved performance potential, as the body rids itself of the detrimental postural restrictions. Alexander Technique is routinely taught as part of the curriculum in all music, drama and dance academies in London, New York etc.
Alexander Balanced Standing
For Alexander students, whether performers or not, the usual experience as they progress with sessions is one of more freedom, more balance, more mobility, less pain, less strain, less effort, more stability and a general sense of wellbeing. Instead of the misuse habits being the norm, the good use habits take over, start to become the norm and start to become unconscious.
Anyone can benefit from learning the Technique, from children to people in their eighties, from people struggling with sitting at a computer all day to people with very active lifestyles, from horseriders to dog-walkers, from writers to lecturers, from drivers to people giving presentations, from sedentary readers to gardeners to golfers, etc – and of course also singers, musicians, actors and dancers of all levels who are feeling restricted or in pain as they perform.
Alexander Technique is primarily taught on a one-to-one basis, since everyone’s patterns of distortion are personal to them and everyone’s optimum way of learning and pace of learning differ. There is also, however, a place for small-group introductory workshops.
We recommend that you seek an Alexander Technique teacher who is a member of The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (MSTAT), the oldest and largest professional body of Alexander Technique teachers in the world. This way you ensure that your teacher has completed a minimum of three years full-time training and is a registered practitioner following the strict code of ethics, good practice and professional conduct which the Society sets.