On Having Lessons in the Alexander Technique
When I first heard about the Alexander technique through a newspaper article, it made intuitive sense to me. In the interview, Christine talked about changing the way we moved in everyday activities in order to manage pain and injuries.
I had experienced back and neck pain at times, I had been to physiotherapists and osteopaths for recovery from injuries in the past but could see that these sessions did not support the real and lasting change I was seeking.
Receiving treatment from a physiotherapist or osteopath for 45 minutes in a week and then heading back to the other 167 hours of my week where I practised my usual posture and way of doing activities seemed to counteract the treatment. Being given exercises to "develop" certain muscle groups only seemed to go so far. It still wasn't looking at my body as a functional whole. What was described in the Alexander technique seemed be something more wholistic and a way of considering all of the parts of my body in relation to each other - rather than just "fixing" my back or treating my leg, I went along for the first few lessons and the practical experience fitted with the description in the article I had read. I could see that real change in my posture would be a slow process- but this made perfect sense. If my postural changes were to be integrated as part of the whole of my body, and not creating new problems, they had to be slow.
I was prepared to take my time because I could sense the benefit of the subtle positive changes in my posture and the way I moved. I learnt to appreciate the temporary discomfort that came from beginning positive changes in my posture- signs that muscles which had been overused or underused because of the imbalances in my posture were now readjusting as I adopted better posture. Or to put it in Alexander Technique terminology - my "use" [of my body] began to improve. This process was slow - very slow. But at last I was seeing change that, because it could carry over into any aspect of my daily life, was starting to reinforce itself. As my posture improved, I moved in ways which reinforced that more functional posture. My task within the regular Alexander lessons was to become aware of the way in which my poor posture was contributing to pain or limitation in movement, and to carry that awareness into my daily life. Because that process can be interfered with by conscious effort, the hands on experience from my Alexander teachers during lessons was essential in supporting the ongoing changes and improvement in my posture.
For this reason, work with an Alexander Technique teacher is called a "lesson" rather than a treatment session. The Technique is an educational process rather than a medical approach.
Now, years later, if I have any sort of injury or period of stress which may affect my body, Alexander Technique is top on the list of my preferred resources.
Unfortunately often in our current Western world approach to health and wellbeing, we focus on getting quick pain relief, quick results and focus mostly on what appear to be the problem areas of the body. If someone is prepared to persist with slow changes that enable each part of the body to be viewed in relation to the whole of the body, if they want to see changes that will be lasting if they persist, if they want to become more aware of the ways in which they are helping or hindering their posture and thus their injury recovery, then the Alexander Technique has much to offer. I love the sense of freeing of my movement and awareness which the Alexander Technique has given me.
Bradley Newman teaches the Alexander Technique in Sydney. For more information see firstname.lastname@example.org .or email Bradley on