The Alexander Technique is a practical self-care and self-development method. It is an educational process; Alexander Technique practitioners are called teachers and their clients are pupils or students rather than patients. The lessons are tailored to individual needs and capabilities, with teachers using gentle hands-on guidance and dialogue to teach core principles and skills. Students learn greater self-awareness. They are taught to avoid poor postural and movement habits which cause strain and imbalance, and to react and move with less tension.

In light of the rising profile of the Alexander Technique in the UK, a group of researchers (including York Clinic’s director Hugh MacPherson) set out to produce a comprehensive description of Alexander teachers and their students. The results of this research were published last month [1].

The study shows that the majority of both teachers and students are female, with teachers being predominantly well-educated and self-employed. Nearly two-thirds of students began Alexander lessons for musculoskeletal symptoms such as back, neck or shoulder pain, or for general posture. A further 18% began lessons because of a general interest in the Technique or for general well-being, tension release and generalised stiffness. Other reasons included psychological problems such as stress or depression and neurological problems such as headaches, Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis.

The final 10% fell into a category labelled ‘performance’. This was split into three sections: ‘vocal’ for performance related to voice, singing, and acting; ‘musical instrument’ for performance associated with playing an instrument; and ‘sport’, which represented a range of physical activities such as horse riding, golf, swimming, running, martial arts and yoga. The number of people being treated for vocal or musical instrument performance is double that for sport (4%, 4%, 2% respectively). The Technique is widely taught in drama, music and dance colleges to help improve performance skills and alleviate performance anxiety and the likelihood of injury. Musicians do some of the most complex and demanding physical movements of any profession.

The Alexander Technique is taught at the York Clinic by Mary Greene. Mary also teaches at the York Alexander Technique School (YATS) for trainee Alexander teachers, and until recently worked at the Hull York Medical School and in the University of York’s Music Department.

To book an appointment with Mary, phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm on weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at email@yorkclinic.com or use our contact form.  We will respond to you as quickly as possible.

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 Reference:

1. J. Eldred, A. Hopton, E. Donnison, J. Woodman, H. MacPherson. ‘Teachers of the Alexander Technique in the UK and the people who take their lessons: a national cross-sectional survey’ in Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Published Online April 13, 2015.Abstract available online.

See also our blog post: ‘What is the Alexander Technique?’