What is the Alexander Technique?
“What is the Alexander Technique?”
This is a question I am often asked, and if you’ve been following me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn you may have noticed that I’ve been occasionally posting simple one-sentence descriptions of the Alexander Technique. Here are fifteen of the simple definitions I’ve come up with (or collected) so far!
1. Alexander Technique is efficiency of movement in everyday activity.
2. Alexander Technique is mindfulness in everyday activities.
3. Alexander Technique is a thoughtful way to improve overall coordination.
4. Alexander Technique is a way to be aware of and change habits of mind & body.
5. Alexander Technique is a way to improve posture by releasing tension.
6. Alexander Technique is the “how to of how to do everything!” – Judy Stern, PT and Alexander Technique Teacher
7. Alexander Technique is a way to be comfortable in your own body.
8. Alexander Technique is a way to move more freely and naturally.
9. Alexander Technique enables us to act with intention rather than habit.
10. Alexander Technique is concerned with HOW you do what you do!
11. Alexander Technique is a way to be more comfortable in your body whatever you are doing.
12. Alexander Technique is a way to identify and change poor physical habits of movement, tension and reaction.
13. Alexander Technique is a way to “unlearn” harmful lifetime postural habits.
14. Alexander Technique “is a way to feel better and move in a more relaxed and comfortable way” – Robert Rickover, Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique
15. Alexander Technique is a way to improve coordination, balance, body awareness and ease.
If you don’t know much about the Alexander Technique, which of these piqued your interest?
If you’re familiar with the Alexander Technique, which do you most identify with? Or can you come up with your own?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
They are all right on. I’m sure people who have never heard of or studied Alexander can’t imagine there is something that can help you with all of these things! I often say it is a technique that helps you do what you do with more ease and less tension. Sometimes I’ll say that it helps you to strip away what isn’t necessary and allows you to become your most authentic self.
Jennifer, thanks for your comments. I like both your little descriptions very much, and have added them to my collection!
This is a very nice list of short definitions. I notice that many Alexander teachers, when asked what it is, start by saying something about how difficult it is to describe. I used to do it myself and can still slip into it.
But I think that’s pretty off-putting to most people. “You can’t even tell me what you do – that’s weird…and flaky” I suspect is the kind of thing a lot of people would think.
I think it’s worth coming up with a very short description/definition (maybe from one of the ones above) and actually memorizing it and practicing saying it.
Someone – I forget who now – said that if the person asking asks for more information, the way to go is to ask THEM a question about why they are interested and go from there – in other words tailor your more detailed description to the person’s situation.
I do think this whole issue is an extremely important on for us as AT teachers – your initial first impression is crucial – you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Thanks, Robert. I agree with you about a tendency among AT teachers to say immediately how difficult it is to describe. I have done that myself, but I don’t think that it is particularly useful (and as you say could even be off-putting), and my experiment in coming up with these one-liners has actually been very helpful – both for me and for the person I happen to be talking to!
I like your idea to choose one you like (not necessarily one of mine) and practice using it – I guess I’ve kind of been doing that.
I do very much like number 14 🙂
Imogen, I love this list! I reckon 1,4,8,9,10 & 12 are my favourites. Good thing I don’t have to choose just one. And I totally agree with Robert’s comments on how difficult it is to get across the technique in a soundbite, and how many of us shoot ourselves in the foot by starting with ‘it’s difficult’. No soundbite is going to capture the whole of what the technique can do, but anything from this list will make it come alive and sound appealing in the moment, which is a pretty good achievement.
Glad you like the list, Karen! These are only some of the one-liners I’ve come up with – so probably another blog or two in the making at some point! I was interested to see which ones you were most drawn to – thanks for sharing! This was quite an interesting exercise, especially as we Alexander teachers can sometimes get quite “stuck” in the “it is difficult to explain” mode!
Great summary! The benefits of movement practices like the Alexander Technique are starting to get noticed in the health care field. When movement practices are accompanied by soft tissue mobilization, body tissues begin to heal in an organized manner, to support long-term health.
Thanks, Maureena! I believe, and hope, you are right regarding getting more recognition. I will have to find out more about soft tissue mobilization as I am not familiar with it. Do you practice this?