The use of Alexander Technique
- 'Shelly is a mum and a busy nurse working on a cardio-thoracic ward. She's on her feet all day, always at red-alert for her patients. When she gets home she has a lively two year-old to cope with. Shelly has chronic lower back pain. She constantly took painkillers and pain was threatening her job.'
- 'Mike is a composer. He used to get so emotionally involved in composing that he literally froze and could not continue, 'The tension was astronomical, I just couldn't do anything about it.'
These patients, although their needs are different, are taught the Alexander Technique in the same way. It's not a therapy it's a learning process. But its not book learning, it's both mind and body learning.
With the help of an Alexander teacher you learn how to improve your breathing, balance, co-ordination and movement. You learn, not to relax, but much more effectively, how to release tension and stimulate a lengthening of your musculature.
This lets you move freely and easily. It's a skill, which initially seems complex, but with practise, the Alexander Technique becomes part of you and you wonder how you managed without it. Having a tutorial CD helps both as an introduction to the Alexander Technique and a way of practising in between lessons.
In a lesson a teacher uses their hands to guide your musculature towards a state of ease. The touch is very gentle, you don't need to undress and there is no manipulation. Explanations are given to teach you to use your body better.
'Mike found that lessons helped him to recognise the build up of tension.
'Without it I'd be in a desperate state and probably have an ulcer! The searing wrist pains that I got when playing the piano have gone too. I know how tension builds up and I can mange it.'
- Shelly is half way through her basic course, and has stopped taking painkillers and her back has improved enormously. She has far more energy for her two-year-old.
'I went through my entire day stiffening my neck so much it ached and holding my breath, waiting for the next emergency to occur. I'm using my whole self much better. I wish I'd done this years ago!
By Carolyn Nicholls
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