Big Sky Studio: The Alexander Technique

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Candace Cox

What is the Alexander Technique?

Vitruvian ManStress is a trendy word. We use it to describe how we feel when we have a test coming up, or too much work, or emotional overload in our lives. We have become so used to operating with stress that we are often unaware of how much impact it has on not just our emotional state, but the very fibre of our beings.

The Alexander Technique is a way of removing excess stress from our lives. An Alexander lesson begins at a very primary level – by looking at the stresses and imbalances we place on our bodies in unthinking ways. As an Alexander Technique teacher gently leads a student to better balance and ease on a physical level, the impact is profound on not just body, but mind as well – what F.M. Alexander himself would have called the “psycho-physical whole”.

The Alexander Technique is a way of healing and bettering ourselves from the “outside in”. Applying these simple principles can radically reduce chronic pain, improve an existing talent (from golf to opera), or simply make it a little easier to put one foot in front of the other in our hectic world.

balanceBalance is an issue in all of our lives. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, which finds us sitting behind the wheel of a car, hunched in front of a computer game, or typing and “mousing” for hours on end, has lead to a “fast-forwarding” of the kind of destructive habits that F.M. Alexander was observing in people at the beginning of the last century.

supportSupport is not something we can do for ourselves – it is something we allow ourselves, from an outside source. Support from other people will always come and go in our lives, but support from our very connection to the earth is a gift that is always there. The goal of lessons at Big Sky Studio is to return to the simplicity and ease we once knew as children. The result of this kind of work is greater peace and happiness.

History of the Alexander Technique

F. M. Alexander was originally an actor in the Victorian era. His very successful career became shadowed by recurring voice problems; eventually he lost his voice altogether duringa very important engagement. Doctors could find nothing wrong with him, so he was essentially was forced to retire from the stage.

AM AlexanderHe spent the next decade observing himself and what he did when actually reciting. Pinpointing the source of the problem was quite simple; to stop himself from that habitual way of moving, especially in a heightened performance situation, was quite another matter. His discoveries and ultimate “cure” for his own ailment – and the subsequent profound effect on his own health in general, led to cries forhelp from other. A significant factor in the Alexander Technique is that it was not developed as a saleable commodity – it was the doctors in Sydney, Australia, who had watched F.M.’s progress with interest, who eventually asked him to give them ‘advice’ on other patients. These same doctors were also involved in pressing F.M. to take his discoveries and move to England, where the principles of the Alexander Technique were published in the British Medical Journal to great acclaim. 

F. M. Alexander

The Technique F.M. Alexander pioneered was also actively embraced by his contemporaries and students such as George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, and John Dewey. Throughout the years the Technique continues to be embraced by the famous (and not so famous!) of succeeding generations, as diverse as Nobel Peace Prize winner Tirnbergen or comic actor John Cleese. The Technique is influential in the world of sports, as well as everyday life, where it has shown incredible results in dealing with chronic pain, TMJ and RSI (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome), childbirth, and even serious illnesses like Cerebral Palsy, cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis. A growing number of clinical trials exist which give scientific backing to the effect of the Technique on everything from respiratory lung capacity to anxiety to back pain to Parkinson’s disease. It’s effectiveness in balloonsdealing with performance problems and enhancing ability in the arts is internationally recognized, and Alexander Teachers are on staff at such prominent institutions as the Stratford Festival (Canada), Julliard (New York) and the Royal Academy of Music (London).       

For more background on F. M. Alexander, click here: