About Alexander Technique

What is the Alexander Technique?

It’s a method of discovering and practicing psycho-physical awareness. It results in increased freedom, ease and balance.

Alexander Technique has been called “driving lessons for the human vehicle”.

Does Alexander Technique really work?

The Alexander Technique has been scientifically proven effective for long-term chronic back pain relief by a study in the British Medical Journal.

In this study, 579 subjects with chronic and recurrent back pain were randomized to receive massage, six Alexander Technique lessons and light exercise, 24 Alexander Technique lessons, or no intervention. In addition, half of the subjects were encouraged to walk regularly.

One year after the study, the group with six Alexander Technique lessons and light exercise reported 11 days of pain per month, and the group with 24 Alexander Technique lessons reported only three days of pain per month. There were no adverse effects.

Alexander Technique in the Media

How is Alexander similar to or different from other mind-body practices like yoga?

Alexander, yoga, pilates and other disciplines emphasize the unity of the mind-body. No movement happens in isolation.

With yoga and pilates, you learn specific poses or movements particular to the practice. During an Alexander session, with your teacher’s guidance, together you look at how you do any movement or activity.

Is Alexander Technique a type of massage?

No, Alexander Technique is a light-touch method of psycho-physical reeducation. The Instructor’s hands are extremely gentle, and “listen” to whatever tightness that is occurring in your musculoskeletal system, so it can be released.

Does it hurt?

No. Alexander is not a treatment, and is not done to you. With Alexander Technique, you are learning more about your habitual muscular responses that have built up over the years and how to change them because they no longer serve you.

You are an active participant, and your instructor is a guide.

Who was FM Alexander?

FM Alexander Founder of the Alexander TechniqueFrederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an actor challenged by a recurring voice problem.

Chronic hoarseness interrupted his career and he frequently lost his voice while performing.

Doctors found nothing wrong with him, so he reasoned that the cause might be something he himself was doing.

After years of self-observation and experimentation, he found certain habits of tension that were causing his voice problem and learned to speak and move by putting those habits aside.

He overcame his vocal problems and returned to the stage. His posture and overall coordination improved and he no longer had the breathing problems that had plagued him since childhood.

FM AlexanderAlexander continued to develop his technique, exploring the relationship of habit, thought and perception to human movement.

He taught his discoveries to others with such success that doctors began referring to him patients with breathing and coordination problems.

As word of his success spread, people came from around the world to study with him. He developed a training program to enable people to teach his technique to others. Over 100 years later, there are now thousands of certified teachers across the world trained in programs closely based on his.

photos of FM Alexander © 2011, The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, London

Who are some well-known people who have studied Alexander Technique?

  • Sally Swift, Equestrian trainer and educator, founder of Centered Riding
  • John Cleese, actor
  • Lynn Redgrave, actor
  • Annette Bening, actor
  • Hilary Swank, actor
  • Paul Newman, actor
  • Julie Andrews, actor
  • James Galway, musician
  • Yehudi Menuhin, musician
  • Madonna, singer
  • Sting, singer, musician
  • Nikolaas Tinbergen, Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, 1973
  • Sir Charles Sherrington, Nobel Laureate in Medicine, 1932
  • George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Laureate in Literature, 1925
  • John Dewey, Educator and Philosopher
  • Aldous Huxley, writer

Alexander Technique Resources