The majority of Alexander Technique teachers have trouble in describing the Alexander Technique in simple terms. Alexander himself said to tell would-be students to read his books. I suggest that people come for one lesson and then make up their minds as to whether this is something they can work with. It is also very important that you, as a student, relate well to your teacher. If the teacher you choose does not suit you do not write off the Technique – find another teacher.
What Alexander found was the importance of the relationship of the head to the neck to the torso. In other words, if the heavy head is held off balance (i.e. thrown forward or back) then the rest of the body has to compensate to stop falling over. When the head is allowed to come into balance then the rest of the body will also be able to come into balance and movement will be free, light and easy. Muscles that, through habit, are contracted will be able to let go enabling freedom of tension and stress. Since it is often stress and tension that causes bad use and therefore pain (e.g. backpain, neckpain) this finding of balance and using only the muscles appropriate for the job in hand means that this pain can and will dissipate.
Contracted muscles can also restrict the movement of joints. Once the student learns, with the help of a teacher, to allow the muscles to go to their true resting length, then the joints can move more easily. As humans we can find it difficult to be balanced and upright on two legs. We are inclined to either collapse and pull ourselves down, squashing our internal organs and putting enormous pressure on our hip and knee joints, or we pull ourselves up “straight” and in doing so contract the spine and the big back muscles. We then can throw ourselves backwards and stand on our heels.
It is impossible to do the “right thing” if you have no idea you are doing the “wrong thing”. The only way to stop the bad habits is not to do them. However, as humans, we are taught that when we do something wrong we have to correct it and “do” the right thing. With the Alexander Technique you learn just to stop the bad habit. For example, if someone has a shoulder up and they are told, they will immediately put the shoulder down, whereas all that needs to happen is to stop putting it up and then the shoulder will be where it should be. Easy but subtle.
Alexander Technique teachers help to reeducate bodies and in doing so also reeducate the mind and emotions. Alexander realized that the physical mirrored the mental, and that in releasing the physical the emotions may also be released.
Students are taught to stay in the moment, to use themselves in a better and more efficient way which then flows on to ease and grace of a truly upright and balanced posture. They are then easily able to cope with the stresses of everyday living – a well balanced person in every way.