It is a skill, which can be learnt and applied to all activities in everyday life. The learning process facilitates greater understanding of how our thinking, movement and feelings influence health. It's classification as a neuro-muscular re-educative technique, places it in the specialised field of body/mind learning, also regarded as a whole-self approach to health.
After an initial assessment,
the teacher uses their hands and some verbal guidance, encouraging a specific
quality of muscle tone in the performance of simple daily tasks, such as sitting
in a chair. Kinaesthetic awareness is enhanced, allowing access to deeper postural
reflexes, which in turn dispense with the imbalances that have developed over
years of unconscious movement.
This process allows one to live without excess muscle tensions and an ever expanding awareness of choice in relation to habit.
Matthias Alexander (1869 -1955), developed vocal loss as a stage performer
Melbourne during his early career. When the doctors of the day were unable
to help him with this devastating predicament, he decided to find out for
why he repeatedly experienced vocal problems
such was his love for the
His first conclusion was that his situation must be due to something that he was doing with his vocal mechanism whilst on stage, as in normal speaking he had no problems.
For several years thereafter, using mirrors to observe himself when reciting, he began to discover that the vocal loss was not merely a symptom of the way he used his voice, but part of an overall pattern of "use" throughout his whole self. He observed that every time he prepared himself to speak in "performance mode", a combination of things happened among them:
In order to address his
vocal problem, he discovered that his habits as listed above, needed to be
brought under his conscious control, as they all played a part in the process,
constituted his "performance mode".
The method that he developed to solve his problem became popular in the acting profession primarily, as a means to create greater awareness of breathing, posture and expression. The medical profession in Australia recognised the importance of FMA's work and regularly referred patients with breathing and vocal disorders when all other methods of intervention failed.
In 1904 FMA moved to London with introductory letters from some prominent Australian medical men and set up a practice. In 1930, FMA began training others how to use his methods. He also authored four books: Man's Supreme Inheritance(1910), Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual(1923)The Use of the Self(1932), and The Universal Constant in Living(1943).
It is in the UK and USA, that Alexander Technique is best known today, as the first qualified teacher only returned to Australia in 1960. There are some 88 training schools worldwide, 30 Societies and approximately 2500 qualified teachers.
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