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Dr. Richard Isaacson

The Alexander Technique - Taking The Pressure Off Your Body

By Robert Rickover

For more information please visit : Alexander Technique

“Stand up straight!” “Pull your shoulders back!” As children, we were
told to have good posture. Yet we were seldom taught effective ways to
accomplish this. Indeed, we were often not even told just what “good
posture” is.

The consequences of this information gap can be seen all around us:
stiff necks, shoulders hunched forward or pulled tightly back,
restricted breathing, and tightness in the thighs, legs and ankles.
Backaches, headaches, and other painful symptoms are often the
unfortunate result.

By the time we’ve spent a year of two in school, sitting for hours on
chairs and at desks chosen primarily for their economy and for the
convenience of the custodial staff, we have learned tension patterns
that interfere with our natural easiness, balance, support, and freedom
of movement.. These tension patterns - slumping or stiff “good posture”
patterns - become so habitual that they start to feel normal despite the
fact that they seriously restrict our breathing and freedom of movement.

The Alexander Technique is a time-tested method of teaching ways to
restore our natural balance, flexibility and ease of movement. It
teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular
activity, releasing more energy for all our activities. It is not a
series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind
and body that helps you discover a new balance in your body by releasing
unnecessary tension. It can be applied to all of your daily activities.

The Alexander Technique places a great deal of emphasis on the
relationship between your head and neck.  The way we manage that
relationship has huge implications for the way the rest of our body is
organized.  If, as is so often the case, we compress our heads down into
our spines, a whole series of compensatory tensions is created.  If, on
the other hand, we can learn to allow our head to balance lightly on top
of our spine as nature intended, our built in “anti-gravity” reflex is
activated and our body is encouraged to release previously held

How the Alexander Technique is taught

The Alexander Technique is above all an educational method. Alexander
Teachers use a combination of verbal instruction and a light, guiding,
touch to convey information to their students. Alexander Technique
teaching is done in private lessons and in group classes. Private
lessons are usually between 1/2 and 1 hour in length.

Teacher training

Most certified Alexander Technique teachers have completed a three-year
full time training course recognized by one of several major
professional societies. Typically, the training courses have a student
teacher ratio of 5:1 or less, and provide a great deal of individual
attention for each trainee.

A few teachers have trained more informally on an apprenticeship basis
and some of them have become members of professional societies through a
rigorous review process. Not all Alexander Technique teachers are
certified and not all teachers eligible for certification are members of
a professional society.

Choosing a teacher

All of the major professional Alexander Technique societies publish a
teachers’ list as well as on-line listings. Recommendations from friends
and colleagues can be useful in choosing a teacher, but you will have to
judge for yourself if a particular teacher is right for you.

Ask about his or her training and be prepared to take a few lessons
before deciding whether to continue with a course of lessons. If you
live in a community with several teachers, have a lesson or two with
several before making a final decision.

The basic ideas of the Alexander Technique are not in any way complex or
mystical, but they do represent a new way of thinking about the
functioning of your body and may take a little getting used to at first.


Excess tension in your body can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms
and it can interfere with your ability to perform activities well.
Therefore it is not surprising that most people come to the Alexander
Technique because they are in pain (backaches, sore necks and shoulders,
carpal tunnel syndrome etc.) and/or because they are performers who want
to improve the quality of their singing, playing, acting or dancing.

People of all ages and occupations have benefited from Alexander
Technique lessons.  The Technique also has its share of famous people
who have publicly endorsed it - including two Nobel Prize winners and a
great many celebrities like Paul Newman, John Cleese, William Hurt,
Sting, James Galway and Yehudi Menuhun.

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