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By Robin John Simmons
Life is movement; life is breath. But what if movement was painful, awkward, and difficult; and what if breath was short, inadequate, or shallow?
The basic principle of the Technique discovered by F.M. Alexander (1869–1955) is that the way you use yourself influences how you function. If you have a habit of slumping in a chair when sitting, or stiffening up as a reaction to unwelcome life events, then it is likely that these habits will interfere with your breathing, circulation, and the easy activity of your internal organs. You will clamp down on yourself and restrict your life-giving actions—movement, both external and internal, and breathing.
We can learn to progressively change our unwanted habits; despite the fact that they feel natural, normal, and comfortable, some of them are clearly harmful. The Alexander Technique is a gentle and intelligent way to appreciate the richness of the sensory world that we frequently ignore, or is unavailable to our awareness because of the collapsing or stiffening habit patterns that restrict sensory consciousness.
By learning how to recognise and minimise our (often unconscious) habits of tensing and slumping, we become more alive in our senses. Pain and awkwardness gradually reduce, and difficulties are addressed. We get taller as the downward self-imposed pressures diminish. In this way, a catalogue of troubles can be progressively overcome: muscle pain; joint pain; headaches; neck pain; shoulder pain; back pain; arm, wrist, and hand troubles; sciatica; hip issues; knee, ankle, and foot troubles; breathing issues; digestive troubles; circulatory issues; mental fog; emotional gusts; the list goes on… All such difficulties, and more, can be mitigated and even eliminated by learning to apply the simple practices discovered and developed by Alexander. However, the Alexander Technique is not a direct therapy. But by learning to gradually eliminate our own (often unnoticed) contributions to our troubles, we gain more control over and are less likely to fall victim to them.
The Technique has been successfully applied to eliminate pain, improve posture, enhance performance in any activity, manage pregnancy and birth-giving, greatly improve breathing, overcome digestive and circulatory issues, and prevent harmful down pressures. It has been proven to also greatly help back trouble and musculoskeletal troubles of all kinds.
Perhaps the Technique can help you?
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(lllustration by David Yu)