Pause right now.Don’t change how you are sitting as you read this. Take a moment to see what you notice. Do you sense any discomfort, overwork or compression? Is your neck or jaw tight? Are your back and shoulders slumped, or wrists and fingers tense? Are you holding your breath? Now, allow yourself to move. See what happens when you bring your awareness to the way you are experiencing yourself. This is the first step to learning the Alexander Technique, and to peeling away layers of habit that keep you from realizing your natural ease.
What to expect in an Alexander lessonLessons are tailored to your unique needs, they include explorations of everyday activities, constructive rest and specialized movements within each students life. Through verbal and visual ques, as well as gentle hands-on guidance Alexander teachers work with you to help you develop a more refined awareness about your movement choices, and the skills you need to realize greater ease.
Exploring Daily Activities: “Chairwork”Lessons typically include time spent exploring daily activities, ones we all do, and usually do semi-unconsciously. We bring our conscious attention to these activities to find out what habits we may have that interfere with our natural ease and efficiency. One aspect of Alexander lessons is “Chairwork” – which is time spent exploring sitting and standing. In lessons we’ll also often explore other simple activities like walking, speaking, bending and reaching.
Constructive Rest: “Tablework”Tablework is a part of most Alexander Technique lessons. The idea behind constructive rest is to give the student a chance to experience and learn the principles of the Alexander Technique while there are less demands on the body. Alexander teachers use a light and highly-skilled touch that is not manipulative or intrusive but rather trained to heighten your kinesthetic experience. While on the table the teacher will gently move you and help guide you into a release of excess muscular effort and into greater integration.
Applications: Your interests and the ATStudents are encouraged to bring their own needs and interests into their Alexander lessons. From coping with injury or pain, singing or public speaking, performing monologues, playing instruments or sports, doing yoga, tai ji, exercises, deskwork or housework; an Alexander teacher can help you to explore doing everything you need and want to do with less compression, more choice, and increased awareness.
- Breathing is as fundamental to life as our heart-beat, and is an involuntary process (we don’t need to do anything to breathe, it happens even when we are sleeping!), but for most of us it is a frequent place of interference. Many of us hold our breath — to concentrate, to exercise, even when we speak! When F.M. Alexander developed the Technique he found that freeing the natural breath was an essential part of freeing the whole use of the self and it is therefore incorporated into most every Alexander Technique lesson.
Discover the Alexander Technique. Re-Discover your natural ease.
The Alexander Technique is a practical method for developing more efficient, integrated movement and increased well-being. This is obtained through a process of identifying harmful habits that cause strain and interference, and learning to undo them.
Because the Alexander Technique is an educational approach, students are given the tools to identify and unlearn what habitually interferes with our natural ease. By thinking with logic and new awareness about our bodies, we create a more effortless relationship of body and mind. As we study the Technique we learn to make choices that allow for more support and less stress. This relieves the strain on muscles and compression in joints that can limit our range of movement, cause aches and pains, interfere with our breathing, or decrease our optimal functioning. Within this more easeful and conscious condition we find our daily functioning, support and coordination improved; our sensations refined and livelier; and our sense of time and space expanded.
Taught for over a hundred years, the Alexander Technique is a proven approach to learning to take care of oneself effectively. The Technique investigates not what you do but how you do it. Amira’s students have included the old and young; office-workers; singers; actors; lawyers; administrators; CEOs; doctors; yoga teachers; truck drivers; chronic neck, back, hip, knee, and shoulder pain sufferers; physical therapists; musicians; dancers; teachers; artists; activists; acupuncturists; and those dedicated to mind-body practice.
Young children move with fluid coordination and easy organization. Watching the way a child balances their head while reaching for a toy, or climbing onto a chair, can inspire awe in the on-looker. We can also see this in the movements of a cheetah, or even a house-cat — a fluidity and state of readiness that we associate with our best athletes or dancers, but often don’t experience in ourselves. Over time, what is natural to us – ease and upright being – has become compromised. What was once unconscious and instinctual can be re-learned through conscious choice, enabling us to awaken our innate delight in movement and response-ability.
Please scroll through the slides at the top of this page to find out more about what it’s like to study the Alexander Technique!
The team at the American Society of the Alexander Technique also had this animation created to help give a basic understanding of the AT: