The Alexander technique was developed at the beginning of the 20th century by an Australian actor, Frederick Mathias Alexander, who began to experience problems with his voice when he was performing onstage in front of an audience.
After a great deal of trial and error and self-observation Alexander discovered that the problems he was experiencing with his voice stemmed from muscular tension throughout his body. He also identified that unhelpful thought patterns contributed to the muscle tension.
As a consequence of these findings Alexander developed his technique, which is based on ensuring that an individual’s head, neck and spine are correctly aligned and that the breath is properly controlled.
The Alexander technique consists of gentle correction of body posture and realignment of the head, neck and spine so that the client learns to sit, stand and move in ways that have been slightly modified and changed. These changes and realignments allow the client to use muscles in a much more relaxed and fluid way.
The Alexander technique is normally taught on a one-to-one basis. It involves lying on a couch or massage table whilst the teacher very gently uses their hands on the client’s clothed body to correct any imbalances or misalignments in body posture.
In some instances the client may be asked to move around the treatment room, so it’s important to wear loose, comfortable clothing and be prepared to remove your shoes.
The key aims are to ‘Free the neck, let the head go forward and upward and let the back lengthen and widen.’ Each session usually lasts for between thirty and forty minutes, and in most cases a course of fifteen to thirty sessions is recommended.
The Alexander technique can be learned at any age and is particularly good for back, neck and shoulder pain. It is can also be used to help with RSI, respiratory problems and chronic fatigue. Many clients also report that the technique helps with stress, depression and other emotional disorders.
People who use the technique on a daily basis report that they experience less pain, are able to move more easily and in a more co-ordinated manner, and that they feel calmer and more balanced within themselves.
Because the therapy focuses on making minor changes to the way in which the client sits, stands and holds their body, it is highly unlikely that the Alexander technique will produce any negative effects. However, if you have any neck, back or spinal problems, be sure to discuss these with the practitioner before the treatment starts.
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