What Alexander Technique is Not?

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The Alexander Technique is NOT about movement or posture

The Alexander technique does not teach you how to move or sit. You already know how to do these things. Really.

Instead, the Alexander technique teaches you how to inhibit your habitual way of moving or sitting, thinking differently to organize yourself internally in a new way, with the result that you may move or sit differently. In our view, trying to move or sit differently directly is “end-gaining“. We are not interested in what you do, but in how you do it. By practicing stopping and giving yourself time to think, your motor control (that is, the large part of your brain concerned with controlling your coordination in activity) will shift over time, what “feels normal” will become more efficient, and you will end up moving and sitting very differently. So improved movement and posture are clear side effects of practicing the Alexander technique, but we never are concerned with movement or posture in lessons or when practicing the Alexander technique.

movement mindfulness

The Alexander Technique is NOT like yoga, pilates, taichi, meditation, awareness practice or anything else for that matter

In the Alexander technique, we are not particularly interested in expanding our awareness, nor with “strengthening the core”, etc.

The main practice in the Alexander technique is inhibition, that is, stopping. When you stop, you will tend to become more aware of what is going on and what you are doing. Thus, you could say that mindfulness is a side effect of practicing the Alexander technique throughout the day, and indeed, many Buddhists have found the Alexander Technique to be very helpful in their practice [link to Beau’s profile].

Everyone is always teaching one what to do, leaving us still doing things we shouldn’t do.

FM Alexander

The Alexander Technique is NOT physical therapy, not a treatment

Alexander technique teachers are generally not medical professionals and are not qualified to treat any condition as a medical practitioner.

However, various clinical studies have found that lessons in the Alexander technique reduces back pain, neck pain, joint pain, and various other clinical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. Generations of Alexander technique teachers and students of the Alexander technique have found that improvements in use lead to improvements in functioning, and a wide variety of conditions are relieved and even cured indirectly by taking lessons in and practicing the Alexander technique. However, Alexander technique teachers are concerned with teaching their students the Alexander Technique, which involves taking a broad view of the student’s total pattern of coordination, and not focusing on injuries.

Most importantly, the Alexander Technique is NOT about doing things “right”

The Alexander technique is agnostic about the “right way” to do something. Really – what is the “right way” to stand up?

That being said, there may be “wrong ways” to perform an action. For Alexander technique teachers, using more muscular effort than needed is a “wrong way”. So the Alexander technique is concerned with not doing the wrong thing.

This may sound like earsplitting – not doing the wrong thing instead of trying to do the right thing – but it is a key point, and a key obstacle in learning the Alexander Technique. This is because everybody believes that they know what is “right”, and this firm belief prevents them from doing something new, because it feels wrong. Well, what happens if your idea of “right” has left you going wrong? (See the section on False Sensory Appreciation  for more about this.)

“Everyone wants to be right, but no one stopsto considerif their idea of right is right.”

You want to know if you’re right. When you get further on you will be right, but you won’t know it and won’t want to know if you’re right.

FM Alexander

Please enjoy reading about the Alexander Technique on our website! Feel free to contact us for more information or to try out a lesson with an AmSAT-certified Alexander Technique teacher today.