The Alexander-Technique is no really a therapy method, but a sort of lesson. The learners are taught to use consciously their body while sitting, rising up, standing, walking, carrying and speaking. Consciously means not to take a tense or strenuous position which affects the whole freedom of movement and the well-being.
The Alexander-Technique provides connections between expectations, thinking, behavioral habits and physical reactions. With the help of this knowledge the student can perceive “wrong” motion sequences to move more upright and lighter.
“A this story of sharp warmth, intelligence and perseverance, shown by a man [F.M. Alexander] without medical education, is one of the true heroic deeds of medical research and practice.”
Professor Niko Tinbergen, in 1973 in his speech to the acceptance of the Nobel prize for medicine
The Alexander Technique is to lead back to Australian actor Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869 – 1955).
Because his voice often failed while reciting, he began to pay attention to his respiration. Besides, he found out that tensions in neck and back prevented him from breathing freely and from moving naturally.
As a result Alexander developed a learning concept with which such strains can be avoided by deliberating control of motions. Alexander transmitted his knowledge first to actor colleagues; later musicians, singers and dancers also used his method.
By the increase of a more holistic way of thinking the Alexander technique has found in the meanwhile a wide usage and recognition, also beyond these areas.
The Alexander Technique is based on five basic principles.
1. Recognition of Force of Habit
This means learning to notice what you are doing which may be causing you pain or discomfort.
2. Inhibition and non-doing
Which involves stopping yourself from doing the unhelpful habit and learning to use the appropriate amount of effort to achieve your goals.
3. Recognition of faulty sensory awareness
This means that you don’t always know exactly what you are doing and what feels wrong and uncomfortable may actually be better for you, it is just unfamiliar.
4. Giving directions
This is about sending “orders” or specific thoughts or intentions to the body from the brain to encourage the body to flow and expand rather than contract. This enables much more freedom in movement and freedom from habitual tension and reactions.
5. Primary control
This is the functional relationship between the head, neck and back in our bodies. Alexander found that this is crucial in organising the body so that it functions at its most efficient. To allow the primary control to engage takes awareness of the body and what you are doing and therefore links in with number 1 above.