The Alexander Technique For Posture Improvement

Round about the turn of the century, a young Australian actor called Fredrick Alexander lost his voice, but only when he was on stage doing his one-man Shakespeare recitals. Doctors couldn't find anything the matter and conventional therapies didn't help. Alexander realized he must be doing something wrong, so he rigged up three mirrors to study himself rehearsing. He saw that when he lifted his head heroically as he recited, he tipped it back, constructing his larynx and incidentally crushing his spinal discs. Yet he could have sworn he'd just been holding his head high.

Once he realized how out of touch people are with what they are actually doing with their bodies. Alexander spent the rest of his life working on his technique.

What exactly did Alexander Discover?

Basically, he discovered that all of us, when making efforts to do even the simplest things, physical or mental, impose on ourselves harmful tensions that restrict our performance. We are all in the habit of interfering with the natural relationship of the head and neck to the trunk. Observe your own reactions in a tense situation- when driving, perhaps, or during a harassing time a work. Tight muscles pull the head down and clench the jaw, the chest is clamped, restricting breathing, and as the upper body is compressed, the digestive organs or lower back eventually complain. What we popularly call 'bad posture' is often the accumulated residue of all those over-tense reactions that have become locked into the body.

Animals and young children usually move natural, with a lengthened spine and sense of poise. Unfortunately, we often acquire bad habits as we get older, and additional stress can lead to imbalanced and excessive muscular effort in movement. If chronic tensions build up, the neck and back muscles contract, leading to rounded shoulders, a lowered head and an arched back, which causes further tension and so the problem gets worse and worse.

Alexander technique enables you to become more ware of balance, posture and movement in your daily activities and can make you consciously aware of harmful tensions that previously went unnoticed. This involves something that no other therapy offers- learning to stop making unnecessary effort in all kinds of situations. Alexander students find that the technique not only improves their physical health but also has a considerable impact on personality and outlook, enhancing mental and emotional well-being.

The technique can be helpful in particular for gynecological conditions, digestive disorders, heart and circulation problems, breathing difficulties, neurological and rheumatic disorders, and psycho-neuroses.

Learning the Technique

In a series of alexander lessons, the teacher works with a trainee individually, on a one-to-one basis, using his or her hands gently to feel out hidden tensions and distorted muscle pulls and then encouraging the muscles into better balance and harmony. simple, everyday movement are used as tools for teaching you to move with less tension.

Self--help measures may be of benefit in the first instance; copying Alexander's example and looking closely at your posture in the mirror might be valuable in identifying obvious imbalances. The basic principle of Alexander's ideal posture is to keep your body in a straight line.

The Alexander technique is a way of learning to help yourself, which is one of its great attractions. But it is not a do-it-yourself-at least not until you have completed a course of lessions. this is because we become accustomed to our own muscle pulls and tensions, and what is familiar comes to feel right even natural. Initially, we must rely on a trained teacher's objective feedback. The teacher will focus on your habits of movement to assess how much strain you impose on yourself. Sitting, rising, standing and lying down are important parts of the lessons. Some of the common features of this technique are listed below-

The Power of Posture

Any distortion to the structure of the spine will affect the way the body works. A hunched posture will inhibit the natural movement of the head, the shoulders and the ribcage, distort the spine and restrict normal breathing patterns. this sagging stance is associated with constantly anxious and depressed people, and it aggravates their feelings of tension. Correct postures is a major step towards improving 'the use of the self'.

Poised and free

If you examine the way that your sit, either in a large mirror, or with the aid of a teacher, you may see that your habitual positions have already pulled the body down, compressing it, distorting the relation of the head and neck of the truck. The practiced Alexander student will be sitting 'poised and free'. The knees are not crossed since this would twist pelvis and spine.

Rising and sitting

When you rise from sitting position your body follows an automatic procedure. Frequently, the head juts forward and the body folds in the middle before straightening upward. The natural curves of the spine are exaggerated. Similarly when sitting down the head is often thrown backward, and the lower back is arched. The alexander student has a simple and easy rising habit.

Forward  and up

Using a full-length mirror observe yourself standing. The common tendency is to bend the head forward, shortening the neck and rounding the back. The practiced student is upright from head too toe; the head is 'forward and up'.

The alexander technique is a way of becoming more aware of your balance and how you move. It's based on the premise that most people have bad postural habits that, over time, stop us using our bodies as easily and comfortably as we should. wrongly used muscles contract and pull down, giving in to the classic sign of bad use: head tipped back at the start of any movement, especially sitting or standing. As well as the long-term damage to joints and cramped internal organs, poor posture is linked with respiratory ailments; people develop round shoulders from hunching protectively around their painful chests as they cough and wheeze.

Frederick Alexander believed modern living leads to bad postural habits; shoulders raised and stiffed by stress, neck poked forward over desk, tired bodies slumped into saggy armchairs. soon we have lost all sense of how we really are, so that what feels natural (because it's habitual) is widely out of line. That's why it's hard to correct our own posture without expert help.

The alexander Technique aims to re-educate the body into moving more easily-relearning the natural grace all children have until they all go to school and start slouching over desks. It's based on what alexander teachers call 'good use of the body'-allowing the spine to regain its natural curves, holding the head effortlessly in the easiest position and distributing weight evenly over your feet. The bonus is that you look taller and feel lighter.

most obvious benefits are with back or joint pain, fatigue and respiratory problems. It's also widely used by actors, musicians and athletes to improve their performance. Since there are no risks involved, it's worthwhile trying it out.


Published studies verify the benefits of the alexander technique for singing, playing musical instruments, stress management, breathing and pain relief, as well as balance and posture. A study of two matched groups of students at the royal college of Music found that the alexander group improved their singing and acting skills as well as their posture. another study found that chronic pain sufferers rated it the most effective of 13 activities they tried on a pain-management courses.

The posture problem

You look in the mirror, and you're not happy with what you see. Maybe your shoulders round forward. Your butt sticks out. Your knees point in. You don't like your walk. You can't stand that stoop. Maybe you try to fix the problem by listening to the familiar voices in your head — "Stand up straight!" "Tuck your pelvis!" "Pull your shoulders back!" "Hold your head up!" You try arranging body parts.You tuck your pelvis. You straighten up. It looks better but feels like so much work.You let go, and there's the same old posture again. You figure you're lazy or too tightly wound or out of shape. Maybe you think your position runs in the family.

How you move affects how you look

Though you may not realize it, what you do and how you do it change the shape, tone, and feel of your body. We are constantly in motion, even while sitting, and posture is like a still photograph of the way we move. By changing the way you perform ordinary activities with the Alexander Technique, your position naturally improves — not from artificial, external stiffening, but from the ease and inner expansion.

You can change

You can improve your posture. By refining your overall body awareness with the Alexander Technique, you start to recognize when your alignment is out of balance. You learn a manageable, sustainable way to restore it. With the teacher's gentle hands-on guidance, you let your neck and shoulder tension go. You allow a comfortable relationship between the head, neck, and spine. You learn to elicit what Alexander called the primary control: the tendency of the spine to lengthen in motion. With it, you relieve tension and discomfort while streamlining your movement.

Your internal support system — the primary control

What appears as lazy or stiff posture is a lack of central coordination: some muscles work too hard while others barely engage. Alexander Technique lessons will change how you perceive and experience your body's support system.You see that it functions not in segments but as a whole. Your teacher provides a model of graceful body management and helps you marshal the ideal relationship between head and spine. You come to understand that you are not held up by an outer shell of tension, but are motivated from within. You learn how to engage your internal support system, to release and direct your internal dynamic energy.

The benefits of ease & poise

As you restore your natural poise, you find greater stability, balance, and fluidity. Good posture is the contour of improved functioning: your stance looks better because your body feels good and works well. Regaining your full stature has other implications. You learn to handle stress with more calm. You bring to your personal and work life greater confidence, improved concentration, better endurance. And you understand that you have more control than you realized over how you look and feel.


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