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The Alexander Technique - Taking the pressure off your body


by David James


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 restrictions.

Excess tension in your body can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms and it can interfere with your ability to perform activities well.


The views and opinions in this blog post are those of its author.

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