The Alexander Technique, named after its creator Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), is a psycho-physical educational process that was created to retrain habitual patterns of movement and posture. By altering his automatic response to a wish to recite, Alexander, through patient self-observation, was able to change his strongly embedded habits of over-tension he had developed over his whole life.
He found that other people who became aware of his transformation were interested to learn from him how he had managed such change in himself. He began teaching his method, and so impressed doctors that a number of them sent him patients of theirs. He helped people learn how to overcome many kinds of troubles both those considered to be more of a physical nature as well as those considered to be more psychological in character. He realized that the physical and psychic aspects of our functioning cannot be viewed separately – Alexander recognized the unity of the human organism and called his work The Use of The Self. This understanding of the unity of the human organism was, and still is, somewhat ahead of his time.
He was persuaded by prominent medical men and other luminaries of society of the time to train others to pass on what he had discovered to future generations. His training school opened in March 1931. Nineteen doctors wrote to the British Medical Association to attempt to persuade them to include learning the technique in medical training. Sadly the war intervened and it never occurred.
The Technique has been studied by scientists and neurologists and in 2008 the British Medical Journal headlined a double-blind controlled trial conducted by Southampton University where the Technique was shown to greatly alleviate back problems long-term. Many actors and singers have praised the Technique (some of them international stars) for helping them manage stress and vocal issues. It is taught in all the major music colleges in London and at the Julliard in New York. Horse riders are also enthusiastic supporters because, like the musicians, they get feedback – in their case from their mount whereas musicians get the feedback from their instrument or their voice; feedback that clearly indicates that there is a general improvement in overall functioning.
The benefits of learning the Technique may range from clearing up persistent headaches, managing stress, alleviating pain and tension, improving posture and breathing, helping to reduce high blood pressure, and even relieving many issues that come with pregnancy. In sport the Technique has many adherents and has even been applied at Olympic level by members of the British Coxless 4’s rowing team.
I trained with Walter Carrington who directly continued the training school begun by Alexander. I qualified to teach in 1971 and have been continuously teaching since then. Since 1982 I have run my own training school to train teachers of the Technique – at present in Zurich Switzerland. I have given lessons and presentations in several countries and we hold a regular annual weekend workshop at Hawkwood College in the UK. As well as giving individual lessons in Zurich, I also give group sessions to the Academy students at the Zurich Opera House.
My book The Evolution of Movement is published by Mouritz. It describes how the Alexander Technique is linked to the procedures developed in the 1940’s by Professor Raymond Dart. I am now regularly invited to give seminars and workshops worldwide based on the material in my book.