What is the Alexander Technique? The Alexander Technique (AT) can be defined in two ways. Either it’s a way of learning to be poised or a way of unlearning habits of movement that prevent poise in the first place. Regardless of definition you come to a new place and move in a different manner.
Why should I try it? Think about this. Have you ever heard of a toddler or little kid complain that their "back" is killing them. Probably not. This is because kids know how to use their bodies as nature intended. As adults we do things so repetitively and unconsciously that our movement becomes habitual, thoughtless and eventually distorted.
How does it work? The Alexander Technique is brain-based and works by rewiring the nervous system. This is possible by keeping the student actively engaged in thinking and awareness of the body in movement. A lot of the time it's as if we're on autopilot, leaving our bodies on the back burner. When this happens, harmful and unhelpful habits of posture are bound to form.
How is it different? AT is given in "lessons" in which you become aware of how to take tension out of the things you do every day. When this happens, freer and easier movement is discovered.
What can you expect? In a lesson there is gentle hands-on work, both in movement and on a standard bodywork table. The movement that is looked at can be any "activity" that the student wishes to bring in, ranging from tying shoes to swimming. Throughout the lesson the student is an active participant asking questions and sensing how their posture and movement is changing.
How many lessons should I take? Think of it as learning a new instrument, it takes time. Learning to become poised and aware of your body takes time too. 20 to 30 lessons is suggested for the unlearning of unhelpful habits and the relearning of freedom and ease. By applying this to your everyday life the Alexander Technique will help you rethink and reshape your ideas about movement and much more.
Joe Schaefer has been studying the Alexander Technique for the past 5 years. He is AmSAT-Certified, training in Baltimore's AT Mid-Atlantic teacher training program under Nancy Romita and Wendy Salkind. In addition to this, he has worked with Robert Bedford. Individual or group lessons are available as Joe has given workshops at local universities for actors and musicians. You can learn more about AT by visiting Joe's website, atjoeschaefer.com.