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Some people move with grace and ease and seem to have good posture, freedom of movement and general well-being. Some of us, on the other hand, use ourselves very badly - collapsing, tensing, distorting ourselves in almost every moment of our lives.

We could call this ‘poor use’. Such poor use is a cause of much of our physical and mental unease. The Alexander Technique helps us to understand and change such bad habits and restore our natural good use.

The Alexander Technique improves the way we use ourselves in everyday activity. Unconsciously acquired habits in movements such as standing, walking or sitting distort the body and interfere with its natural functioning. We respond to stimuli by overtensing and/or collapsing - literally winding ourselves up (or down!). This 'mis-use' results in aches, pains, tension, fatigue or simply in feeling ill-at-ease in one's body. The Technique helps us to prevent these unnecessary reaction/habit patterns and to restore our natural 'good use' of ourselves.

The Alexander Technique is not a quick fix. It is a way of learning, and a way of changing, and these things take time and application.

How the Technique Came About

F.M.Alexander was an aspiring actor who began to have problems with his voice. He found that when he was performing he became hoarse and eventually lost his voice. He was unable to get any satisfactory help either from the medical profession or from voice teachers. Eventually it occurred to him that there was nothing wrong with his voice but with the way that he was using it.

Alexander provides a fascinating account of his search for the answer in his book, "The Use of the Self". Briefly summarised, what he has to say is this:

His researches took him a long time. At first he could see nothing wrong. But then he began to notice that, when he went to speak, he stiffened his neck and pulled his head back. This tightened his larynx and caused him to become hoarse. If he could prevent the pulling back of his head then the hoarseness did not come about. At first he thought he was home and dry, but then he began to realise (by observation in an arrangement of mirrors) that he was not able to be sure about whether he was pulling his head back or not. In fact, often when he felt that he was not pulling his head back, observation proved that in fact he was! He began to understand that what we feel is often inaccurate. He decided that he could only be sure that he had not gone wrong if, when he decided to speak, he said to himself, "no, I'll have nothing to do with it", and thus succeeded in doing nothing. Even this turned out to be elusive, but this is meant to be a SHORT summary, so follow me on! He practised doing nothing when he thought of speaking and then, before proceeding to speak, he gave himself new instructions in line with his ideas about how he wanted to perform the act of speaking. This is the essence of the Alexander Technique: learn to stop rather than react when you think of doing something, then, before you proceed, give yourself a series of instructions or "directions" as to how you wish the act to be carried out.

A Short Biography of FM Alexander

FM Alexander was born in 1869 at Table Cape, Tasmania, the son of a farmer and horse-farrier. After some success in commerce, he embarked on a career as an actor and reciter in Melbourne. Unfortunately, within a few years he developed voice problems leading to hoarseness and occasionally to complete loss of voice. Finding doctors unable to help, Alexander reasoned that his mis-use of himself while speaking was the cause of the problem, and set about finding a solution. After years of acute observation and patient experimentation, he discovered principles of movement that, in application, removed his voice problem and greatly improved his health. Alexander's friends and associates noted the remarkable change in him, and asked if he would be willing to teach them what he had learned. Thus began a career which was to take him to England, where he eventually settled, and also the USA. He spent the rest of his life teaching, training others to teach and writing about the Technique. He wrote four books, called "Man's Supreme Inheritance", "Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual", "The Use of the Self" and "The Universal Constant in Living". Today there are Alexander teachers in practice throughout the world.