Alexander Technique

   "No problem can ever be solved by the same consciousness that created it." 

-Albert Einstein            

The two figures demonstrate the versatility of the Alexander principle of embodied direction. Tanagra (detail), by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1890

The two figures demonstrate the versatility of the Alexander principle of embodied direction. Tanagra (detail), by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1890

Rooted in a lucid understanding of the human body’s design, the Alexander Technique guides students to function with greater pleasure, grace, and power. Our bodies’ internal structures can allow us to move with lightness and ease, but habitual patterns of tension often interfere. Not only can such habits diminish our range of movement and cause pain, they also can limit our creative choices. The Alexander Technique helps us to recognize and release confining habits and to allow our movement to be informed, instead, by the body’s natural design. Alexander Technique students learn how thinking and awareness directly influence their physicality, and they learn how to create the conditions within themselves that foster an uninterrupted flow of energy and a new sense of freedom. Rather than layering on more things to do, the Alexander Technique encourages us to let the unnecessary fall away. As we do, we enjoy moving with greater range, efficiency, and balance. We awaken a bright presence in which we can be more attentive to our creative possibilities.

Alexander's principles are taught through verbal and visual cues as well as a unique and subtle touch. Whether guiding a student in a movement as basic as walking or as particular as playing the viola, the teacher conveys a fresh kinesthetic experience and guides the student towards a new integration of mind and body. Individual lessons or group classes can be tailored to the students’ particular goals—whether improving a golf swing or yoga practice, working more comfortably at the computer, performing an aria or monologue, recovering from injury or surgery, or giving a business presentation. The Alexander Technique helps us uncover an inherent coordination and grace so that we may perform with heightened composure and poise. As we become more at home in our bodies, we open ourselves to more lively participation in the world.

 

Benefits of the Alexander Technique

JG rehearsal fragment: Sea ode.   Alexander Technique promotes a  quality of flow. 

JG rehearsal fragment: Sea ode.   Alexander Technique promotes a  quality of flow. 

  • Increased mobility, range, balance and coordination
  •  Energy efficiency and ease in movement
  • Maximum breathing coordination and vocal support
  • Relief from pain due to postural strain
  • Heightened composure, poise, and presence in the moment.
  • The great pleasure of being at home in your body

Learning to stop engaging in patterns that pain or restrict us is a basic premise of the Alexander Technique. When we let the unnecessary fall away, we have the possibility of doing something else. We have choice. Alexander students are just that — students, not patients. Although the new sensations of freedom, ease, and an uninterrupted flow of energy experienced in a lesson feel quite wonderful and can have many therapeutic benefits, an Alexander lesson is not a treatment. Alexander students learn how thinking and awareness directly influence their physicality, and how to create the conditions within themselves that let new sensations arise. They gain personal freedom.

 

Head Balance - a primary principle

In an attempt to restore his failing voice, Alexander discovered that a dynamic relationship between his head, neck, and torso was a crucial factor in the quality of his voice. In fact, he realized that this relationship influenced all his activities.

In Alexander lessons, Judith guides students in restoring dynamic balance of their head, neck and torso. Students gain skill in enlivening this relationship on their own – attaining balanced, energy efficient poise.

Try This Experiment

The elegant poise of the head

The elegant poise of the head

To locate the area where the head balances and moves in relationship to the spine and torso, stand looking forward with your gaze out, as if you are looking into the eyes of someone exactly your same height. Do not get "set." 

Now, gently draw a tiny, delicate circle with the tip of your nose, as if you are writing in the air directly in front of you. You are now moving your head at the actual joint where your head and the top of your spine intersect. 

Notice the difference between nodding “yes” with your head from here, versus from the level of the top of a t-shirt collar. We often initiate movement of our heads from the T-shirt top area—which is much lower than where the head and spine actually meet. Beginning a free movement of the head at the actual juncture between the head and the spine takes pressure off of the moveable parts below—decompression!

Finally, tap the very top, center, crown of your head as you open your gaze forward. Imagine you have an enormous paintbrush extending from here, painting on the sky or the ceiling. Guiding or steering the movement of your head from the tip of the imaginary paintbrush assists the clear movement of the head at the top of the spine, creating resilient springiness in the spine below. Good news for moving, breathing, and producing sound! 

For more information: 

American Society for the Alexander Technique:   http://www.amsatonline.org/

The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, UK, Europe, worldwide: http://alexandertechnique.co.uk/

American Center for the Alexander Technique, NYC: www.acatnyc.org/main/

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique: http://www.alexandertechnique.com/