When people come for Alexander Technique lessons it is often after they have had treatment from various therapies to help them with specific problems such as back pain, stiff neck or shoulders, aching knees, or they have finally decided to improve their posture.
But the real reason why we need help in the first place (unless we’ve been injured) is actually to do with our co-ordination…..how all of our muscles co-ordinate together. It is the co-ordination of many hundreds of muscles that are responsible for how we feel, the movements we make and also our poise (posture we see in the mirror). ‘Poor posture’ is a symptom of poor co-ordination as much as most cases of back pain and other symptoms. Simply getting treatment on a specific area such as a bad back is not going to be very successful in the long-term if the actual root cause of the problem, namely our co-ordination is not addressed too. Alexander Technique is the only method in existence that focuses entirely on inhibiting harmful posture and co-ordinational tendencies and directing a new improved use of ourselves that is in keeping with the way we are designed…..or evolved. In the process of Alexander lessons back pain and other symptoms can simply disappear as we deal with the root cause of the problem and revive the free upright and expansive poise we enjoyed as young children.
Yet, co-ordination is something we all take for granted. We can walk a straight line (sometimes), make a coffee without spilling it (usually) or hand-write a letter (If we haven’t forgotten since we started texting). But threading a needle can be trickier, playing the violin can be the devil’s own curse and doing anything with the ‘wrong’ hand can be challenging beyond belief.
But there are very few of us who are blessed with good co-ordination. Postural habits such as slouching, stooping and stiffening put us off balance so we overuse certain muscles while underuse others. We now experience an imbalance of effort which actually feels normal, but is actually far from healthy.
Try this little experiment with your hands… Bring your hands up in front of your chest and straighten your forefingers so that they are pointing, and line them up to point towards each other, tip to tip. In a moment, close your eyes and move your hands away from each other, whilst still pointing a straight forefinger, so they are as far apart from each other as your shoulders. Then bring them together so that the tips of your forefingers meet exactly tip to tip. Remember to keep your eyes closed.
Move them apart again then bring them together exactly as before. Can you make them touch accurately each time or do you miss? Open your eyes and see how far you missed by. Now close them again and do the same thing vertically, one fingertip coming downwards towards the other. Do it repeatedly. Can you also do it diagonally? Can you do it behind your back? How accurate are you?
If you managed to get them to touch exactly tip to tip each time, then you are doing very well. If you missed, how far away were you? Were you fingers just a few millimeters apart or several centimetres? We have had our fingers and hands all our life, and it’s incredible we can’t find them without our eyes being open! We also discover that we cannot trust our senses….what feels right may not actually be so. This also relates to our posture, so what may feel ‘comfortable’ and familiar, despite pain and discomfort can actually be quite harmfully distorted by postural habits.
Improving our poise, getting rid of back pain, knee pain or other discomfort, actually requires us to retrain our co-ordination. The improvements which occur during Alexander lessons also affect how we appear, our breathing, our voice and also how we perform at sport or in business presentations. We can find that our quality of life improves in areas we would not imagine.
I’ve never know anyone not to benefit if they’ve had a course of Alexander Technique lessons. If you’ve not experienced it, I recommend you try it.