What is the Alexander Technique?
Alexander Technique is a mind/body process that teaches students to become aware of and access their natural coordination, which is balanced and supported. In modern culture we are often asked to "work hard" or "stand up straight!" As well-intentioned as these commands may be, following these "orders" create undue, uncomfortable tensions in the body, which require much effort to maintain.
When tension in the muscles is continuous, we cease to notice that it is there; we become un-aware. The Alexander Technique utilizes the body’s awareness of movement – the kinesthetic sense – to become conscious of and release long-held tension habits that interfere with the body’s natural movement.
Through gentle guidance from the teacher, the student learns to release these overly tense and uncomfortable movement patterns, coming into a natural state of uprightness, rather than stiff, forced postures. The head balances lightly on the spine, and the body has a feeling of buoyancy and lightness, improving coordination and balance.
Who was Alexander?
Frederick Mathias Alexander (1869-1955) was a pioneer in the betterment of health and human potential. Growing up in rural Tasmania, Australia, he succeeded as a professional actor and orator. But F.M.’s career almost came to a halt as a young man due to chronic vocal hoarseness. Because of his passion for theatre, he began to take matters into his own hands. With careful observations of his tense physicality he noticed habits that he had developed when reciting, and by interrrupting this pattern, and directing himself to trust his natural coordination, he gained the skill to consciously choose the means of changing this pattern. Over a ten year period he began to distinguish patterns of mis-use in his body, and recognize a familiar mental pattern that triggered the old and familiar habits. This was a huge breakthrough for his personal career in the theatre and launched him into a career of the development of the human potential. Famous students included Aldous Huxley, John Dewey and George Bernard Shaw.
What happens in a lesson?
Students learn to notice tension habits and interferences with their natural coordination, through the use of their kinesthetic sense, and gentle hands-on guidance from the teacher.
Coordination is restored by bringing the head and spine into balanced relationship. Through verbal guidance and physical cues from the instructor, the student learns to sense subtle tensions and imbalances while their body is in action.
Natural balance is restored by releasing patterns of tension and returning to more coordinated, centered movement.
What is the kinesthetic sense?
Kinesthetic means "muscle sense" or the "felt relationship between muscles, bones and joints." The kinesthetic sense is the way in which we feel these relationships (as opposed to thinking about them); it also includes muscle memory, and the way in which we sense the space around us, sometimes referred to as our "kinesphere."
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