The British Medical Journal concludes that Alexander Technique is more effective than massage or physician-prescribed exercise for relieving chronic back pain, measured a full year after intervention. AT is about changing movement patterns that cause pain, restriction, poor performance, frustration, depression.
Alexander Technique does help people stand and move with greater alignment and grace, but through changing the thought patterns that cause you to stiffen, strain, depress, and restrict yourself—not by advising you to add more tension, to tuck this or lift that.
Consider posture as a verb. When someone is posturing, there’s a sense of force—and of pretense. They’re not actually present, or confident; they’re attempting to appear that way. Without pretense, without effort, with an experience of yourself as whole and complete and fully present, “posture” makes no sense. You always have access to a more expansive, easier you. Alexander Technique is the practice of choosing that above all else.
We all know there is a physical corollary to every mental state—movies, theater, and our language demonstrate this common knowledge. Not many realize, however, that there is a window of choice in how we think and move, and that in fact we can change one by changing the other. When we learn to stop engaging in patterns that are based on remembering or projecting from the past, we are free to be in the present moment, awake and available to whatever may transpire. The wonder and flexibility exhibited by small children is evidence that this is our natural state, one that remains accessible at every stage of life.
Research demonstrates that qualities associated with happiness are exactly those that characterize the Alexander Technique: lightness, horizontal and vertical expansion, and upward-oriented movement. Exhibiting the physical characteristics of happiness is a reproducible, reliable means of experiencing that mental/emotional state.
Performance Pain Posture Presence and Joy
Surgeons, musicians, actors, athletes, emergency personnel, fighter pilots, public speakers — anyone who strives for superior performance can benefit from learning to moderate their response to stress, move with dynamic coordination, practice easy and full breathing.
Alexander Technique is taught in conservatory and university programs around the world, including: The Juilliard School, Ohio State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, New England Conservatory of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, American Dance Festival, Yale School of Drama, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
Respected musicians, actors and writers who have praised the Technique include:
Scientists Nikolaas Tinbergen, Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, 1973 (video of his Nobel lecture, the last third of which is devoted to the AT); Sir Charles Sherrington, Nobel Laureate in Medicine, 1932; George Coghill, Biologist, Anatomist, member of National Academy of Sciences
Writers George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Laureate in Literature, 1925; Aldous Huxley; Robertson Davies; Roald Dahl; John Dewey, Educator and Philosopher
Actors John Cleese, Lynn Redgrave, Annette Bening, Hilary Swank, Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Robin Williams, William Hurt, Christopher Reeve, Maggie Smith
Musicians Paul McCartney, Sting, James Galway, Madonna, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Colin Davis, conductor