The Alexander Technique is not so much a learning process as an unlearning process. Over many years of stressful living, we accumulate tensions in various parts of the body, which can give rise to common ailments such as headaches, neck and back pain, hypertension, insomnia etc. Faulty sensory awareness can also lead to a feeling of insecurity and even depression.
With the right education, many people are able to understand the causes of their problems and learn to help themselves, so that their aches and pains are relieved or disappear altogether, without the use of painkillers or other drugs. They also acquire new poise and self-confidence as a result of increased awareness.
The technique was developed in the first half of the 20th century by an Australian actor called F. M. Alexander (hence the name). After realising that the tensions in his body were detrimental to his voice and stage presence, he began to observe them closely in order to eliminate them. He later concluded that we are all subject to similar stresses in our daily activities, due to bad habits acquired over the years.
When we perform everyday tasks, we frequently put undue strain on our bodies or waste energy simply by not being aware of what we are doing. We soon become accustomed to harmful positions or movements, so that they feel "right".
Alexander worked for many years to develop a method of re-educating the body to function more naturally and efficiently. When learning the Alexander Technique, pupils discover ways of sitting, standing and walking that put less strain on bones and muscles. Since our physical state directly affects our mental and emotional well-being, the application of the technique can result in a calmer, happier state of mind and a greater ability to cope with life in general.
By applying the Alexander Technique, we improve our balance, posture and co-ordination in carrying out everyday actions. We become aware of the way in which tension affects our body and are therefore able to eliminate it.
There are many fields in which the Alexander Technique can be applied to good effect. Alexander himself first used it in the theatre, in particular to improve his voice, and many performing artists today - whether dancers, singers or instrumentalists - find it an excellent way to reduce tension and enhance their performance. It is also recommended by doctors for alleviating disorders resulting from bad postural habits during use of the computer and has many applications in the field of Office Ergonomics.