History of the Alexander Technique

The History of the Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is the name given to the system of re-education devised by the late F. Matthias Alexander. He was born in Tasmania and as a young man pursued a successful career in the theatre until a severe vocal problem almost forced him to give up. Medical assistance was provided but his problems continued. An absolute determination to find the real root of his problems led him to discover certain fundamental truths about human reactivity, co-ordination and movement.

Over a period of many years he developed a technique which not only eliminated his vocal problems but also brought about remarkable improvements in his general health and functioning. Doctors encouraged him to teach his method to others and in the early days in Sydney he was known as ‘The Breathing Man’ as he helped patients with asthma and bronchitis and other breathing disorders. His method was soon recognised to help a wide range of other health problems which were being caused by postural and co-ordinational habits. The effects of his teaching were so profound that he was recommended to come to London and demonstrate his method to doctors in the main medical centre of Harley Street.

Alexander came to London in 1904 and continued to develop and teach the Technique in London and America until he died in 1955.  He worked with great many famous people including the philosopher Alduous Huxley, playwright George Bernard Shaw, Sir Charles Sherrington and John Dewey. Since then many well known people have benefited from having Alexander Technique lessons such as Roald Dahl, actors Judy Dench, Hilary Swank, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Jeremy Irons, Suzanna York, John Cleese, Kevin Kline, William Hurt,  Jaimie Lee Curtis, Paul Newman, Mary Steenburgen, Robin Williams and Patti Lupone, musicians Paul McCartney, Madonna, Yehudi Menuhin and Sting, and Nobel Prize winner for medicine and physiology Nikolaas Tinbergen.

There are now Alexander teacher training courses for teachers of the Alexander Technique in many countries and around 3000 teachers world-wide.