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Alexander Technique

Anju Shandilya
Alexander technique is a way of reducing unnecessary stress caused to the body and mind through our daily activities. This technique helps you bring control over your physical as well as mental energy and use it whenever required. Here is some information about this unique method as well as its benefits.
F. Matthias Alexander was an Australian actor and a teacher. Born in 1869, he originally developed the Alexander Technique as a method of vocal training for performers like singers and actors in the 1890s.

The Beginning

As a part of his personal battle, while Alexander was developing his method of voice training, he realized that the basis for all successful vocal education was an efficiently and naturally functioning respiratory mechanism.
He discovered that breathing and vocalization were intertwined. He realized that "physical" habits or "mental" habits are all psychophysical in nature.
During the entire process, he observed that the way we think about our daily activities actually determines, how we coordinate ourselves to do those activities and also, how long-held habits of excessive tension and inefficient coordination affect our thoughts and feelings.
In a relatively short period, Alexander evolved his technique from a method of vocal training into a method of breathing re-education and then, into a comprehensive technique of psychophysical re-education.

About the Technique

It describes a concrete way for overcoming the impeding habits by helping people learn better and do things more freely.
Alexander demonstrated that the difficulties most people experience in learning, in control of performance, and in physical functioning are caused by unconscious habits. These habits have a tendency to interfere with the natural poise and the capacity to learn.
As per Alexander, when one stopped interfering with the natural coordination of the body, one would become capable of taking on more complex activities with better self-confidence and presence of mind.

The lessons of this technique are a unique and practical means of actually stopping and changing habits that you would want to change.
However, the lessons are not available in the form of a therapy rather, it teaches the individual to experience more of the natural coordination. Repeating these experiences that consist natural, fundamental movement, helps stimulate the individual's coordination mechanism by making it more accurate.
It also helps to develop the ability to choose better coordinated responses to the stimuli, which are completely non-stressful. At this point, the individual is able to make changes in the habit, which usually lasts throughout the lifetime. The individuals learn to change tension habits that have been built up over a lifetime.
The techniques described by Alexander do not involve exercises, any form of medical therapy or treatment, forms of psychotherapy, or spiritual healing techniques. It also does not involve any manipulations of bodywork or manual healing techniques.
This technique does not look at a body as a set of separate parts or pressure points that have to be individually worked on. A teacher skilled in this technique will guide the students through movements, which are patterns of coordination including tension and postural patterns.
It is important to understand that this technique may not be effective for everyone. On an average, a student may require almost 40 lessons before he/she can see any difference. A goal has to be set, which can be based on the teacher's perception of success.
In some cases, the undoing of old habits may also trigger an unpleasant emotion that formed the basis of development of the bad habit in the first place.

The Benefits

This technique has been proven very helpful for people dealing with chronic pain, excessive stress, and injury.
It has also been used by performing artists to enhance performing techniques. To gain the benefits from this technique, it is important to take the time to learn it from a teacher, who is fully qualified and can help one learn, how to release tension and rediscover balance of the mind and body.
Increased awareness can help one be poised without any stiffness and move with grace and power. It also helps one breathe and speak more easily by being calm and confident.
F. Matthias Alexander died in 1955, however, his invaluable discovery will continue to help millions for the centuries to come and I believe that the day is not far, when this technique will be incorporated in the educational curriculum throughout the world.