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Alexander Technique

Posted by Andy on January 12, 2001 at 11:55:01:

I received this e-mail message on the Alexander Technique and thought I would share it with this forum as it is mentioned quite often by Dr. Stoll....



The Alexander Technique
by Liz Neporent
Whether it's because of an achy back or some sudden
bout of self-awareness, at some point or other, each
of us has said, 'I need to work on my posture.'
Usually, this calls to mind images of walking around
stiff as a board with a book perched on your head. Or
maybe it's your third-grade (or fourth- or fifth- or
...) teacher yelling at you to sit up straight. Go to
the gym and ask for help and you'll typically be given
a couple of exercises to strengthen your upper back or
be told to take a yoga class (probably because they do
'postures' in yoga).

But, once in a while, someone with a little bit of
knowledge will direct you to the Alexander technique.
To its proponents, Alexander is much more than a
postural technique. It is a way of life. Alexander
Technique teaches you different ways of moving and
thinking about moving so that standing straight takes
less energy than slouching. It makes you think about
conserving energy and relaxing in everything you do.

The Alexander Technique is the brainchild of Frederick
Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), an actor who began his
career as a Shakespearean orator and developed chronic
laryngitis while performing. Determined to restore the
full use of his voice, he carefully watched himself
while speaking and observed that undue muscular
tension accounted for his vocal problem. He sought a
way to eliminate that restriction. Over time, he
discovered and articulated a principle that profoundly
influences health and well-being: When neck tension is
reduced, the head no longer compresses the spine and
the spine is free to lengthen. Alexander restored his
own natural capacity for ease of movement by changing
the way he thought while initiating an action. From
this work on himself and others, he evolved a teaching
method that encourages all the body's processes to
work more efficiently -- as an integrated, dynamic

Try a sample exercise

Start by sitting in a chair. Get comfortable. Do you
find yourself slouching or sitting upright? Now stand
up. How did you do it? Did you place your hands on
your thighs or on the arms of the chair and force
yourself up?

Now sit back down and try it this way. Sit upright in
the chair and relax your head upward. Concentrate on
relaxing your neck and thinking about a line traveling
through the top of your head. To stand up, without
pushing off your thighs or knees, relax upward and
forward. Simply lean forward, tilting that imaginary
line so that it continues to direct your body up and

How did that feel? Was it easier than using the
pushing off method? Did you feel less tension in your
neck and back when relaxing upward?

Alexander found that the most useful change he could
make was to mentally direct his neck to be free so
that his head, followed by his body, could release in
an upward direction -- delicately, without any
stiffening or undue effort. This is the guiding
principle of all movements in Alexander technique,
including walking and running. Next time you go for a
walk or jog, try concentrating on letting that line
from the top of your head direct you. Relax upward and
tilt that line somewhat forward. Let your body follow
and see if you feel more comfortable.

Practitioners of Alexander also focus on conserving
energy in other ways. How hard do you really need to
grasp a doorknob to open a door? Do you really need to
bend so far over while brushing your teeth?

Alexander technique is best learned from teachers who
have gone through the complete three-year training
course and apprenticeship, though there are several
good books on the technique.

Re: Alexander Technique (Archive)

Posted by Walt Stoll on January 14, 2001 at 09:04:12:

In Reply to: Alexander Technique posted by Andy on January 12, 2001 at 11:55:01:

Thanks, Andy!



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