The Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique teaches us about how our bodies are designed move. It helps us to recognise unhelpful habits (both physical and mental) that may lead to pain and discomfort in our bodies and stress and anxiety in our minds. Students of the Techinque learn to apply their thinking to everyday activities in order to find an easier way to use their bodies.
For people of all ages the technique can be helpful when addressing:
muscle, joint and back pain
balance and coordination,
anxiety and stress
repetitive strain injuries (RSI)
rehabilitation after injury
coping with chronic conditions
increased physical ease in your activity of choice
it is also used to improve performance in the areas of music, dance, drama and sport.
Learn more about what happens in an Alexander Technique lesson.
Research has shown the benefit of the Alexander Technique in a variety of areas including neck pain, back pain and Parkinson's.
"You translate everything, whether physical, mental or spiritual, into muscular tension."
- F.M. Alexander
The Alexander Technique can be taught both privately and in groups.
The teacher uses their hands to help the student become aware of tensions or habits in their body. This is explored through everyday activities and movements as well as through active-rest where, while lying down, the student’s limbs are gently manipulated by the teacher– it’s a very relaxing process!
Lessons are 45 minutes long
$45 / lesson or $200 for a course of 5
"97% of people with back pain could benefit by learning the Alexander Technique"
- Jack Stern, Spinal Neurosurgeon
A randomised trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2015) found that "Acupuncture sessions and Alexander Technique lessons both led to significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability compared with usual care at 12 months".
A systematic review into the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice (2012) showed that "strong evidence exists for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons for chronic back pain and moderate evidence in Parkinson's-associated disability. Preliminary evidence suggests that Alexander Technique lessons may lead to improvements in balance skills in the elderly, in general chronic pain, posture, respiratory function and stuttering, but there is insufficient evidence to support recommendations in these areas."
A 2008 British Medical Journal study into back pain found that "one to one lessons in the Alexander Technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain".
A randomised controlled trial published in Clinical Rehabilitation (2002) found that "there is evidence that lessons in the Alexander Technique are likely to lead to sustained benefit for people with Parkinson's disease".
“Alexander’s work is of first class importance and investigation by the medical profession is imperative.”
- British Medical Journal
Alexander Technique in the Media
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence's (NICE) 2017 guideline on Parkinsons disease suggests the Alexander Technique for "people with Parkinson's disease who are experiencing balance or motor function problems".
Your iPhone is Ruining you Posture and Your Mood - New York Times "slouching changes your mood, your memory and even your behaviour".
Alexander Technique in the workplace - Talk Back. Various companies have introduced AT to support their workers. Victorinox, the Swiss Army Knife manufacturer, "considers the Alexander Technique to be a main prevention tool in the area of workplace health, as well as for preventing musculoskeletal disorders".
“Let us look at how we can teach our children to manage their bodies, their posture, their reactions to stress and conflict, and allow themselves to adapt quickly and easily to the increasingly demanding pace of change likely in their lives…”
- Sue Holladay, AT teacher and author
Alexander Technique in Education
Young children naturally use their bodies with ease but as they grow they will inevitably encounter challenges and stress in their lives whether from school, social interactions or the mental and physical discomfort that comes from poor posture.
We can't take these stressors out of their lives but the Alexander Technique can help children and young adults maintain their natural co-ordination and give them skills to help them cope with the pressures they face in our busy society.
For young musicians I think that it is especially important that they have an understanding of the way they use their first instrument - their bodies. This knowledge can not only help them learn more efficiently now but also protect them from injuries later.
The Alexander Technique is taught in music and drama schools around NZ and internationally. In the UK, it is taught at all of the major music colleges and junior departments as well as at a growing number of primary and secondary schools.
Have a look at the short video below to see what students and teachers are saying about AT