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Annie Whitehead

Alexander Technique Teacher

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An Introduction to AT
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 An Introduction to the Alexander Technique

 

The Alexander Technique was devised by Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869–1955).  It is a process that enables people to improve their body use by removing unhelpful habits and introducing better ones.  Alexander realised that if you do something often enough you soon start to think that the habit pattern you have got used to is good for you even if it isn’t.  He called this “faulty sensory appreciation”.

 

If you fold your arms now, it is likely that you will fold them in a particular way.  Try folding your arms the other way around and see how it feels.  The second way of folding probably feels a little odd, this is only because you may have got into a habit of always folding them the first way.  This is an example of faulty sensory appreciation.

 

Alexander Technique uses three key principles to improve our use.They are:

 

        · The Primary Control

        · Inhibition

        · Directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primary Control

 

The relationship between the Head and the Neck is vital to improving your use of your body.  Clients learn to improve their use by visualising the head freely poised on the top joint of the spine and the spine lengthening.  Having a sense of 'up' is easy to understand in principle but actually takes time to beome skilled at.  The Alexander Technique is really more about good body function than posture, but because improving the Head Neck relationship often also improves posture as well as body function, people associate the Technique with good posture.

 

Posture may be described as how we support and balance ourselves against the pull of gravity while we use our bodies in our everyday lives.  Natural postural reflexes help enable this support and balance to happen without undue effort, provided we have the ability to allow these reflexes to work freely.  These mechanisms can easily be interfered with.  Alexander Technique lessons help to use these natural mechanisms more effectively.

 

Inhibition

 

The term here is nothing to do with the lay term of being inhibited.  In the Alexander Technique world it is a very positive term.  Alexander Teachers help clients to introduce a thought process which enables a person to “stop, think and act”, sometimes this involves allowing yourselve to do less and allowing your body to function without interference from 'doing'.  For example when sitting it is useful to stop thinking about 'sitting up straight' and better to think about 'stopping slumping and allowing your body to be'. 

 

The Alexander Technique world also uses a process to improve body use termed 'non doing'.  Non doing is definitely not the same as doing nothing!  Non doing and inhibition are separate and complementary Alexander concepts that have some common ground and are both easier to understand in theory than put into practice.  Both are enjoyable and complex concepts to explore and their meanings evolve as a person's Alexander work unfolds.

 

Alexander Teachers encourage people to stop doing what is 'wrong' and the 'right' thing will do itself.   

 

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and freedom".

Viktor E Frankl     

 

Directions

 

Directions are the opposite to inhibition.  It is a way of using the mind to improve body use. When you go for lessons your Alexander Technique teacher will introduce the key directions gradually. They are easy to use once a person has become familiar with them and more effective through repetition.  Directions only work properly if a person can inhibit (see above).