Our bodies are swathed in a complex network of about 600 muscles, each of which can tighten and shorten when we want to perform an action. When you bend your elbow to take a drink, your brain is telling your biceps muscle to tighten up, to pull your forearm towards your mouth.
When not in action, muscles can soften and lengthen once more. But often we don't let them. We keep ourselves on red alert for too much of the time. Check over yourself now and again. Are you:
gripping your car's steering wheel far too tightly?
hunching up your shoulders and rounding your back?
clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth?
tightening your buttocks as you sit, or perhaps tensing your calves and thighs, ready to jump out of the chair at any minute?
bracing your knees back like mad just to keep standing up?
scrunching up your toes inside your shoes?
holding your breath whilst doing something important? Or perhaps sucking in air in short, irregular gasps?
Over time, the cumulative effect of using our bodies thoughtlessly can lead to bad muscle tone, aching joints, and painful imbalances in the back and neck, as well as restricted breathing through habitual tightness in the muscles surrounding the ribcage.
Holding your breath and tensing up to perform an important action is rather like putting your handbrake on before setting off in your car. Keeping a nice natural rhythm of breathing whilst in movement helps you to perform everyday tasks more smoothly and efficiently.
The Alexander Technique aims to restore the body's natural poise and balance by gentle manipulation, and by raising awareness of your own harmful patterns of using your body.
YOUR BODY HELPS YOU!
Once you stop doing the 'wrong' thing, the 'right' thing gradually starts to do itself, as the body's delicate, subconscious mechanisms for balance and posture re-assert themselves. The good news is that your body has superb natural powers of recovery, even from chronic pains in the joints and muscles, if you stop being too hard on yourself, and start the process of freeing up your body and getting it into a good balance. You can breathe easier and do everyday movements and tasks with considerably less effort.
As the body frees, the mind also can be freer to operate in a less tense way, and become more grounded, clear and creative.
WHO CAN BENEFIT?
The technique is of enormous benefit to any person, even those who feel perfectly fit and completely free from aches and pains. It's essential for people who do repeated physical or vocal exercises and movements, such as musicians, actors, dancers, singers, nurses, keyboard users or sportsmen and women. But the majority of people who come to Alexander teachers are outside of these groups: they may have various aches and pains caused by bad posture (we prefer to say 'bad usage'), but many just want to be freer, less tense and more balanced.
MORE DETAILED INFORMATION
Click below to access a website which gives a comprehensive view of the Alexander Technique, with many useful links to other sites: