(Extraído de Natural Therapies Pages)
May 6, 2011 by Rob Schneider
Back in the 1890s, Tasmanian born Shakespearean actor F. Matthias Alexander was in danger of seeing an end to his acting career when he developed breathing difficulties and hoarseness. When no medical explanation for his problem was found, he sought relief from his symptoms alone. This was the beginning of the Alexander Technique.
Alexander began his self-treatment program by observing his posture and actions in multiple mirrors, from different angles. Noticing that he reflexively stiffened his body, held his head back awkwardly and depressed his larynx, he took steps to consciously correct these actions. He learned that if he balanced his head in alignment with the spine, he experienced improvements throughout his body. Not only that, but with practice, his breathing problem and hoarseness disappeared.
After this success with self treatment, Alexander went on to observe other bodily habits and their effects on our health and well being. Today, over a century later, over ten thousand teachers worldwide give instruction in the Alexander Technique.
What Is the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is often mistakenly thought of as a form of body work or other hands-on holistic treatment. While it is true that teachers do occasionally gently touch their students, this is done in order to increase their awareness of a posture, breathing pattern or other tension producing habit. When the Alexander Technique is taught, aside from a couple of simple exercises, no specific exercises are taught. Instead, students are taught through observation, demonstration and explanation how to observe and overcome their negative habits and adopt more healthful postural, breathing and other bodily habits. Rather than a treatment or therapy, the technique can better be described as the study of movement.
Basics of the Alexander Technique
- Observation: In order to affect change, you must first learn the art of self-observation. As Alexander said, "Use affects Functioning". In other words, the way we use our bodies affects the way our bodies function. This self-observation does not come easily or naturally to most people. Teachers of the Alexander Technique help students observe their often unconscious movements and teach them how to move more consciously and efficiently.
- Inhibition: Once these habitual, or reflexive habits are observed, the student can then begin to learn to inhibit them. An example of this is the way we automatically react when a ball is thrown at us. Our initial reaction is to reach out to catch the ball. An Alexander Technique teacher may ask his students to consciously inhibit this impulse and remain perfectly relaxed as the ball passes them by.
- Direction: After inhibition, comes direction. To inhibit his own harmful habits, Alexander devised a series of "directions". These short directions serve as reminders of how to correct unwanted habits. For example, a student may be told to: "Move your whole head delicately up and/Allow your whole body to follow".
- Sensory Appreciation: As he developed his technique, Alexander began to pay attention to his whole body and learned that his habits were so ingrained in him, they felt natural and right, even if they were in fact harmful. He later discovered that he was not alone. After many failed attempts to get it right, he finally learned how to effectively reprogram his body to move in a natural, healthy manner and the Alexander Technique was born.
The Alexander Technique Today
Today, the Australian Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (AUSTAT) is the governing body of the Alexander Technique. In order to qualify as a teacher of the Alexander Technique, students must undergo three years of training at a school approved by AUSTAT.
Lessons administered by qualified teachers are safe, gentle and easy. You can take group or individuals lessons. Group lessons can be very beneficial as everyone learns from each other, while individual lessons can help hasten your progress in achieving a more mindful relationship with your body.The Alexander Technique can be of help to anyone who experiences chronic pain or discomfort or who simply wants to a greater sense of poise and balance in their daily life. It may be of benefit to sufferers of back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and related disorders.