Have you heard about the Alexander Technique?
It’s been around, much like Pilates, since much of the 20th century. But unlike pilates, there’s no equipment needed, and definitely no effort required. Here’s the cool bit though, if your posture is hurting you:
Learning this technique was recently found to reduce days with back pain by 86% (according to a large study in the British Medical Journal).
So, what is it, how does it work, and how can it help you?
An effortless method for better posture.
The first thing people will say when they hear the words Alexander Technique is “Posture!”, and then you’ll immediately see them stiffen up to try to demonstrate ‘good posture’ like a sergeant-major.
Alas, if stiffening up like that really worked to improve posture, by now we’d all be walking round, stiff as tree-trunks, with great posture!
But it doesn’t. So how does the technique improve posture?
What if I told you you could have better posture without any exercises at all? Would you believe me?
The Alexander Technique works by teaching you to release your spine into it’s full, free length with your head well-poised and balanced on top.
So it’s very different to core-strengthening. In fact you could think of it as core-release!
By avoiding tightening up and tensing, and replacing these habits with an expansive release into height and width, the technique makes better posture possible without any effort at all.
body awareness as a key to good posture.
At the same time as learning to release your spine into it’s full, posturally great, length, you learn to increase the self-awareness needed to maintain this.
From there, it’s a game of cat and mouse to learn how to avoid forgetting your great new posture!
So you could think of it as posture mindfulness, or practical mindfulness, or body awareness in activity.
In fact most Alexander Technique Teachers (people trained and qualified to show you the method) prefer not to call it a posture method at all.
How alexander technique teachers work to improve your posture.
The Alexander teacher uses their hands to guide you into easy, upright posture using a massage table as you lie fully clothed, and maybe a chair to practise with you sitting well. Then they teach you skills to keep body-aware and embodied all day long – at your computer, in your car, on your horse, wherever!
It’s not just for back pain and posture, the increase in self-awareness is loved my actors and musicians, and it’s taught at many of the top drama and music schools.
Being aware of yourself in action means you can choose to react with less stress too, so it’s great for combating our tense and anxious lives, much like other mind-body disciplines like Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi.
Online resources for alexander technique
The best site by far for info on the Alexander Technique is alexandertechnique.com
If you can’t find it there, you won’t find it anywhere. Here you’ll find links to all the international societies with registered teachers, and loads of podcasts and written goodies.
In the UK, you can go to alexandertechnique.co.uk which has a helpful finder to help you locate an teacher.
You’d prefer to buy some new corset or gadget? Be sure to check the reviews and make sure other people have used the product safely and comfortably. You can find all sorts of posture supports and braces online. Amazon is a good place to look. And you can find our own reviews of posture wear, gadgets and books right here at Posture Stars.
A final note on the alexander technique…
It does take some time to learn the Alexander Technique, and one-to-one lessons are much more effective than group classes so it can cost a bit more, but it’s well worth considering as a complement to your fitness regime, to keep you moving easily and pain-free.
Bye for now,