Simply put, the Alexander Technique teaches you not to exert too much pressure on your joints or over-stress yourself as you cope with the challenges of day-to-day life. An Alexander Teacher can guide you to accurate body/mind awareness, giving you the skills to avoid strain and imbalance in your daily activities. You are taught to become aware of poor postural and movement habits, and to react and move with less tension. By working with your mind and body in unison, you consciously become more co-ordinated and poised. This can bring about profound, lasting, positive changes to painful conditions such as back and neck pain, RSI, and tension headaches.
The Alexander Technique can also help with anxiety and stress-related problems, breathing and vocal difficulties, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis. It can be helpful during and after pregnancy, and can improve performance and prevent injury in sport, music and drama. It can enhance business and presentation skills, and help you to be alert and focussed with less strain. It is therefore a great method for personal development, creating self-awareness and improved general wellbeing.
You can learn the Alexander Technique in a number of different ways. Private, one-to-one lessons are an ideal opportunity for addressing individual needs. During the lesson, the teacher uses gentle hands-on guidance and verbal explanation to help you to recognise and release unnecessary tension. You will be taught to find ease and balance within yourself in simple movements, such as sitting, standing, walking or bending. You might also explore specific activities such as playing a musical instrument, working at the computer, or playing a sport. Part of the lesson may include lying on a table. This allows for maximum support and relief for the back, while the teacher uses gentle manipulation to help release tight connective tissue and joints.
Alternatively, two people might share a lesson. Each person gets some individual attention, but they can also work together and learn from seeing each other being taught. Another option is to attend group classes and/or workshops. These give an overview of how the Alexander Technique can be applied to particular activities, with participants working and together to learn from each other and from discussions led by the teacher. Classes and workshops might be tailored to particular activities or groups of people, such as back care for gardeners or for parents of young children.
The Alexander Technique is taught at the York Clinic by Mary Greene, who trained at the Cumbria Alexander Training School in Kendal. Mary has worked at the York clinic since 2008. She 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.
Mary’s website: http://www.marygreene.co.uk
The website of the Society of Teachers of Alexander Technique (STAT): http://www.stat.org.uk
Recent Clinical Research: British Medical Journal, Aug. 2008: ‘Lessons in the Alexander Technique have long term benefits for chronic back pain’.