It’s common at this time of the year to be thinking about resolutions and new interests/commitments heading into a new year. The Alexander Technique is a holistic approach to how we use ourselves in our everyday activities, such as standing, sitting and generally moving about. It was the best decision I ever took in that it was an encouraging way to start thinking about the habitual postural ways in which I moved my body. This wasn’t something I had ever thought about before, I just sat or stood as I thought was natural, however what I didn’t know was that this was learned as opposed to natural. I had picked up the way in which I stood or sat based on what I noticed from those around me from a very young age and adopted it for myself. Working with the hands and voice of an Alexander Technique teacher, I began un-learning the ways in which I moved and re-learning a new approach to this, one which involved less tension and more freedom of movement.
The hands of my Alexander Technique teacher(s) guided my body into a new, more easeful manner of Use, as we call it, how I use my body in movement. This was accompanied by words of guidance, which we call Directions, which encourage our thinking process. I was also taught to inhibit my habitual manner of Use, called Inhibition, saying ‘no’ in terms of tightening and shortening myself. One of the main things was how to come into the upright, that direction which is an all-important one when it comes to the head leading and body following. Where is the upright? Well it’s not shortening or pulling ourselves down via worrisome or anxious thoughts, which is easier said than done, and which is why Alexander Technique hands are so helpful in this respect. They encourage, without necessarily being accompanied by words, to find where it is that we are at what might be our full height, something few of us attain on a daily basis but which is actually where we ought to be. They certainly do not manipulate like a therapist’s hands might, which is one of the big distinctions which differentiate our work. Therefore, anyone with back pain or neck tension, shoulder pain or muscle tension etc will find that the work is pleasantly gentle, with no special exercises to perform and nothing to get right. You come for a lesson as you are at that hour of the day, which will vary from lesson to lesson depending on what you are doing that day or how you are feeling, and your teacher will work with you for around 45 minutes. It’s not a large chunk out of your day and you will feel energised, freer and taller at the end of it.
So, if you’re thinking of what you might do to kickstart the new year, looking into starting some Alexander Technique work might provide you with something to think about. It’s certainly a very pleasant experience and provides you with a learning tool with which to approach any tasks. Especially useful too if you are musician or a singer, actor or any such performer.