What is the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is a means to expand awareness throughout our daily activities of our thoughts, movements, breath and body relative to what we are doing. This keen awareness gives us the choice to let go of chronic patterns of body-mind tension and helps develop our kinesthetic sense (sense of where we are relative to the environment, impression of movement, sense of position, tension and weight) in such a way that we become more sensitive to how we are being affected by external circumstances and our relation to the events of our life.
The ways in which we go about our daily activities often create pain, tension or stress because these ways are fixed, habitual and interfere with our natural reflexes. We have lost touch with the possibility of using our self in more efficient, balanced and coordinated ways. Our overall functioning is impaired by this (mis)use. The Alexander Technique gives us the means to change the ways in which we use ourselves reflected in our bodies thereby affecting our overall functioning and well-being while we go about our day.
For the Alexander Technique doesn’t teach you something new to do. It teaches you how to bring more practical intelligence into what you are already doing; how to eliminate stereotypical responses; how to deal with habit and change. It leaves you free to choose your own goal but gives you a better use of yourself while you work towards it.
Dr. Frank P. Jones
The Alexander Technique is based on the premise that there is a dynamic interaction between the head, neck and back which is crucial to the quality of our functioning as a whole. When this mechanism is operating appropriately as nature designed it to, we experience a sense of lightness in our bodies, effortless coordinated movement and ease of being. By allowing the neck muscles to release their tension and become free, the head is then free to move (forward and up) away from the body, bringing about a tensegritive lengthening and widening of the body as well as freedom in the breath and limbs.
What to expect from Alexander lessons?
Lessons are calming, enjoyable and thought provoking. Students generally feel greatly refreshed, relaxed, and/or energetic afterwards. They walk out feeling more embodied and present.
Every experience or activity after a lesson (seeing, driving, walking, standing, and opening a door…) feels new. The experience after a lesson of being with less stress, feeling freer and lighter is amazing.
Sylvia v.d.M., student
By experiencing and increasing awareness of yourself in relation to the world (your kinesthetic sense) through the unique touch of a qualified Alexander Technique teacher you can let go of interfering and painful physical as well as mental habit patterns and relearn how to use yourself with lightness and ease. Once the possibility of moving with integration, lightness and ease through an activity as fundamental as walking, sitting or standing has been experienced consistently, deep change occurs. Then you will learn to further apply the experience gained during basic movements to more elaborate, specific and professional activities such as computer-work, playing an instrument, playing tennis, performing surgery etc…bringing ease and lightness to the areas of life that mean the most to you. The way you function in and through your daily activities will change. The choices you make to live your life and the way you feel about yourself may change too.
Change involves carrying out an activity against the habit of Life.
Since our bodies, minds and souls are intimately connected, this heightened (kinesthetic) awareness is a door and the beginning point of a fascinating adventure of self-discovery and empowerment.
After each lesson I always left feeling freer, physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I felt that I knew myself a little bit better each time and always left each lesson with at least one A-HA moment. And of course, having such moments by experiencing them through my own body and mind is definitely much richer than reading about them in a book or online.
Raoul B., student
Who learns it?
The Alexander Technique is for anyone. Really, anyone. Professionals and individuals of any age can learn and benefit from the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique is however still most known in the worlds of performing arts and sports. As awareness of the Alexander Technique spreads and with the published positive results of a clinical study on chronic back pain (see resources-links) more and more people from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds seek out the Alexander Technique as a means to relieve (chronic) pain, to increased coordination and ease in activity and/or simply to overall well-being. Each person comes with their own stories and motivation which are met by the sensitivity of the Alexander Technique teacher.
You only need some patience to observe yourself with compassion and an openness to see yourself in a new light as well as a willingness to change accordingly.
As soon as people come with the idea of unlearning instead of learning, you have them in the frame of mind you want.
Benefits of the Alexander Technique
Together with improved physical and mental health I have found that the Alexander Technique has brought about a general heightening of consciousness on all levels.
The Alexander Technique changes overall Perception of and relation to the Environment.
This is an outcome of a developed kinesthetic sense and the ability to maintain poise and body integrity relative to the environment. Staying centered and flexible in situations helps one literally to see, and to respond to situations differently.
The Alexander Technique relieves body pain, chronic back pain and recovery time from injury.
Parents, children, computer-users, the wheel-chair bound, doctors, pilots and countless others experience relief from physical pain and strain- injuries due to the repetitive and stressful nature of sitting behind a computer, operating, driving, sitting in school too long etc…
“The main reason I started Corinne's classes was to handle my back problems, derived from over a decade of sitting behind a desk working with a computer. The lessons have contributed immensely to my awareness of how I sit daily. It hasn't been easy to change those habits, but I'm getting better at it, and it definitely helped in decreasing my pain. “
Raoul B., student
The Alexander Technique develops coordination, poise, improves breathing and efficiency in movement.
Dancers, Musicians, Actors and Athletes use their bodies in highly specific ways and repeat similar movements during performance, competition, practicing and training which can lead to strong habitual patterns of tension associated with performance. They can benefit from learning the Alexander Technique as it develops coordination, balance, poise and efficiency in any and all movement. They will be able to perform with less effort and more enjoyment and involvement in the music, dance, acting etc…Breathing can improve as well as overall performance, timing and spontaneity.
The Alexander Technique improves performance and helps better manage stressful situations and (work)environments.
The Alexander Technique also helps all performers manage stage-fright and allows them to be calmer and more confident in public or during a competition. It increases your chances at reaching your full potential, improves overall well-being and gives you tools for self-empowerment.
Corinne works very client based. She immediately adapted to my particular needs on a given evening, finding the techniques that I needed most at that moment. She was able to improve my posture in a short time, but I'm best pleased with the unexpected side effect of her Alexander work.
I have a busy job and usually when I started lessons with Corinne I would still be hyper from the day. My habit used to be to spend all my energy during the week, then crash over the weekend. While practicing Alexander with Corinne a sense of calm would come over me. As she worked on realigning my body I could feel my energy spread more evenly. I'm calmer, get more done, and no longer crash in the weekend.
Peter Z., student
Business people, executives, lawyers, politicians, public speakers, teachers etc…can learn to function more effectively under stressful situations, while giving speeches to large crowds where projection is a concern, during meetings, under time constraints and when dealing with other people at work.
We already notice, with growing amazement, very striking improvements in such diverse things as high blood pressure, breathing, depth of sleep, overall cheerfulness and mental alertness, resilience against outside pressures, and also in such a refined skill as playing a stringed instrument.
Prof. Nikolaas Tinbergen
Nobel Prize for Physiology, 1973
Applying the Alexander Technique
At Light in Being, during the lessons you will be able to apply the principles of the Alexander Technique to any (and more) of the following activities or challenges which are of particular interest or of concern to you.
• Sitting to standing and standing to sitting
• Walking, going up and down stairs
• In general any movement that involves transitioning from one movement to the next
• Singing, Playing an Instrument
• Speaking, acting
• Yoga, meditation
• Handwriting, Typing, Computer work
• Recovery from Injury
• Repetitive Stress Injury, Back Pain, TMJ: Temporal Mandibular Joint Syndrome
• Sports (running, biking, swimming, working-out, golf, tennis etc…)
• And the list goes on….
The Alexander method makes sense to me, and I committed myself to using it from my first contact. Corinne Cassini is my third teacher. I cherish her sensitivity and skill. She listens with full attention and comprehends every concern I bring to her. She has an exquisite ability to feel - literally and emotionally - where the stresses abide in my body. With her guidance I worked on issues as diverse as rising up from a subway seat to holding my grandbaby. To everything, she responds and communicates with clarity and precision. I respect her and recommend her with complete confidence.
Janet H., student
Famous people who learned the Alexander Technique
William Hurt, Christopher Reeve, Kevin Klein, John Cleese, Mary Steenbergen, Paul Newman, Robin Williams, Maggie Smith, Jeremy Irons, John Houseman, Keanu Reeves, Joanne Woodward, Sir Colin Davis, Joel Grey, Paul McCartney, Sting, Joel Gray
Writers, philosophers, educators, politicians
Moshé Feldenkrais, Leonard Wolf, Sir Stafford Cripps, The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Earl of Lytton, Leo Stein, Anthony M. Ludovici, Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, John Dewey
Psychologists and scientists
Nicolaas Tinbergen, 1973 Nobel Prize Laureate in Medicine
Frederick (Fritz) Perls, originator of Gestalt Therapy
Dr. Frank Pierce Jones, former director of Tufts University Institute for Psychological
Prof. Raymond Dart, anthropologist
Sir Charles Sherrington, Nobel Prize-winning neurophysiologist