Alexander Technique Lessons, Classes and Courses in Oxford & Headington
Stephen Cooper MSTAT
TEACHER OF THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE -
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A Brief Introduction to the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique helps us to look at and understand the way that we use ourselves.
Some people use themselves well, but most people use themselves badly, creating huge yet unnecessary strains and tensions throughout their bodies.
Watch the way that most people sit down, and think about the tension that this simple act causes in their necks and backs. Think about the way that you are sitting now.
Pain, illness or unfitness are often simply the result of the harmful way in which a person uses herself or himself.
With the Alexander Technique you will learn to use yourself well.
Back pain, neck pain and all other sorts of muscular and joint pain can obviously
be caused by bad use. Many other conditions also have more to do with the way that
we are using ourselves than with any other cause -
What does ‘using ourselves well’ mean and why is it important?
The moment we think about it, it's obvious that if we are hunched up and collapsed we are not doing ourselves any good.
It's obvious! Look around you and you will see people who are using themselves badly, and you will be looking at people with back pain, poor posture and high levels of stress.
When we see it, why don't we do something about it?
We try to, but it's not so easy. Everyone tries, in their own way, to improve their use. But trying to sit up straight NEVER WORKS. We need more: not a lot more, but we need to understand the obstacles to improving ourselves, and we need some help and guidance. This is where the Alexander Technique helps.
Obstacles to change.
A] We can't change what we haven't even identified! Hopefully this article has made you look at yourself in a new way. But even if you are now "thinking about how you use yourself" you probably haven't got a good eye for it yet. We are not very good at observing ourselves!
B] When we act our responses are HABITUAL and IMMEDIATE. We don't notice what's habitual, and we are too late to change something that has already happened.
C] If we are trying to use ourselves differently, we have very little knowledge of what this might mean. Most people's thinking does not extend beyond
"sit up straight" -
" pull your shoulders back" -
What are Alexander's solutions?
First, we need to stop the old habit. This requires a NEW SKILL -
Second, we need to learn ‘how things work’. Amazingly, if you ask someone how they sit down they might think of their knees and the places that they bend. You can bet that they won't think of their necks, and yet if you watch almost anyone sit down you will see the tension in their necks increase so much that their head is pulled right back out of alignment with their back. If you can't see it, put your hand on the back of someone's neck and ask them to sit down. Feel what happens.
Alexander teaches us that in order to understand ‘how things work’ we have to think of our neck, head and back in relation to each act that we wish to perform.
How do we learn all of this?
Ideally, by taking one to one lessons with a teacher of the Technique. The teacher is able to work in a way that interrupts our old way of doing things and helps us to learn that our bodies can work in different ways.
The lesson often seems to be therapeutic -