THE HISTORY BEHIND IT ALL
“It [the AT] bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other human activities.
John Dewey (The Use of the Self, p. 12)
The Alexander Technique was developed in the 1890s by Frederick Matthias Alexander, born in Tasmania in 1869.
Alexander’s promising career as a young actor was threatened by recurring vocal problems. He sought the help of doctors, but to no avail. Since there was no clear medical cause for his problem, Alexander thought he might be doing something wrong when reciting, leading him to strain or ”misuse” his vocal organs.
He observed himself in mirrors and noticed that he stiffened his neck, pulled his head back and down and depressed his larynx. This went with an audible gasping for air as he opened his mouth to speak. This seemed to be the root of his problem.
It gradually became clear to him that this was part of a bigger pattern of tension involving the whole of his body. This tension pattern manifested itself at the mere thought of reciting.
Alexander spent several years working out a way to change this habitual reaction and learn how to prevent this harmful misuse pattern, thereby improving his health and functioning in general.
As he improved his vocal use, breathing and stage presence, other people started coming to him for help. From about 1894 onward, he started teaching his discoveries in Melbourne, and later in Sydney, until teaching became his main occupation.
A number of doctors referred patients to him. In 1904 he brought his Technique to London, with letters of recommendation from JW Steward MacKay, an eminent surgeon in Sidney.
He established a thriving practice in London, published four books (link to books) and from the 1930s trained about 80 teachers in his Technique. He never returned to his native Tasmania and continued to teach right up to his death in London in 1955.
ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE VIDEOS
Sitting, Standing, Walking, Bending
The Alexander Technique
F. Matthias Alexander, developer
Instant Alexander Technique
ABOUT THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
“The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body.”
“The Alexander Technique is a way of learning to move mindfully through life. The Alexander process shines a light on inefficient habits of movement and patterns of accumulated tension, which interferes with our innate ability to move easily and according to how we are designed.
It’s a simple yet powerful approach that offers the opportunity to take charge of one’s own learning and healing process, because it’s not a series of passive treatments but an active exploration that changes the way one thinks and responds in activity.
It produces a skill set that can be applied in every situation. Lessons leave one feeling lighter, freer, and more grounded.”
“The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities.
It is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind and body.
The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities…”