Whereas adopting the physical position is easy, the mental attitude required takes some practice. First, it is an attitude of observation and non-interference. It may take some time to allow the mind–body to quieten down; to reach some degree of stillness where you are not occupied with wandering thoughts, such as thinking of what you have done and what you are to do. We want to reach a point where it is alright to be present, to observe yourself without judgement and without trying to correct your position. To be quietly here and now, when awareness is happening by itself. Eyes are open and attention is gentle. It is not a matter of work, it is not a matter of sleep. Many thoughts and feelings may pass by, but you just observe them as they run through you.
Then, observe your breathing without interfering with it. For some, turning the attention to one’s own breathing immediately changes the breathing. However, with time and an non-interfering attention, you can observe your own breathing as it happens, without changing anything. This is a second step.
The lying-down procedure (which goes by a number of names in the Alexander Technique) is one of the most classical procedures of the Technique. You lie down on a firm surface, knees up, head supported by books so that the head is not pulled back but that the neck is encouraged to release and a lengthening of the spine is promoted. Generally, it would mean that the neck vertebrae are more or less aligned with the rest of the spine, allowing for the natural curves of the spine. The hands are placed comfortably so as to allow the shoulders to ease and widen. The position adopted is one which facilitates lengthening and widening, and it will vary in detail from individual to individual.
This position is beneficial in itself. The knees up position tends to diminish any muscular pull on your lower back. While lying down the intervertebral discs reabsorb fluid (which is why most people are 1–2 cm taller in the morning than in the evening).* The back and neck muscles are allowed a – for most people – much needed rest.
Lying down for 10–15 minutes a day is a beneficial practice. This is a first step.
* ‘Diurnal changes in the profile shape and range of motion of the back’ by P. Wing et al. in Spine 1992 Jul;17(7):761-6.
Alexander Technique Studio (Graz) is planning to start a three-year teacher training course in April 2020. The course provides all the training required to be come a fully qualified Alexander Technique teacher, with certification recognised by the the Austrian Society of the Alexander Technique (Gesellschaft für FM Alexander-Technik Österreich). The training provides over 1,600 hours, with a minimum 1:4 teacher:student ratio, running Mondays to Thursdays.
The emphasis throughout the course is on learning the means-whereby for exploring your own use. The purpose is to develop sensory appreciation through inhibition and direction and to apply this process to hands-on work.
The Director of Training is Jean M. O. Fischer (teaching since 1987), assisted by Regina Stratil (teaching since 2014).
Details about the training course – our approach, the structure, term dates, how to apply – can be found on Teacher Training > Overview.
The new “Batwoman” series features the Australian actress and model Ruby Rose, who uses the Alexander Technique. In answer as to how she differentiates Kate Kane (Batman’s Gotham-dwelling crime-fighting cousin, Kate Kane, who is, notably, a lesbian) from Batwoman, she replies, “When I do fight sequences and stunts as Batwoman, I do the Alexander Technique, where we study the bat and study the movement. Even the head movements are kind of batlike, so it feels like two different people.”
Our thoughts and feelings are reflected in our postures and movements. Equally, our postures and movements influence our thinking. Our postures and movements are frequently more revealing about ourselves than our own beliefs about ourselves. With the Alexander Technique you learn to break habits of thinking and moving which in turn affects your posture and your walking. Gradually you will free from yourself from ‘postural sets’, that is from fixed habits of moving and indeed of being. The Alexander Technique does not provide you with ‘right’ positions or ‘right’ postures, but simply with the freedom to make your own choices. Your choices affect how you think and move, but you choose. The Alexander Technique, fundamentally, is about developing freedom in thinking and moving.
The physical and mental demands on professional musicians are similar to those of athletes. But this is rarely acknowledged. Musicians frequently turn to the Alexander Technique to adapt and cope with these demands.
This article reports on the University of Colorado’s Musicians’ Wellness Program which has been running since 2003, using the Alexander Technique.
The Alexander Technique is about moving, sitting, standing more easily and freely in everyday life. Frequently we are using much more tension and effort than necessary in many day-to-day activities, and many people end up with aches and pain, for example backpain. The Alexander Technique is a very different approach, yet ultimately very simple. It is not a treatment, there are no exercises nor do you need any special equipment. We are retraining how we are using ourselves – our body and mind – in everyday activities. In this short workshop we will introduce some fundamental principles of the Technique via some practical demonstrations; we will look at some basic movements, and you will learn about a different way of sitting which is better for your back.
Who Jean Fischer and Regina Stratil
Fees and booking Fee: €20 (per person and date)
Booking: email@example.com (Tel.: 0316/319468)
Max. 5 participants
When Saturday, 22nd June 2019, 10.30 am – 12.00 noon
Where Alexander-Technik Studio Graz
Harrachgasse 4/2 (1. OG rechts)
The Alexander Technique makes for economy of effort in everyday activity. An example: in walking or running we conserve energy by the elastic nature of tendons and muscles. As the foot hits the ground mechanical energy is stored in these elastic elements which then is released during the ‘push off’, of the ground. The energy is recovered as a spring-like bounce (easy to observe in children and four-legged animals). This effect is dependent on the elasticity of the elastic elements involved which in turn is dependent on the amount of stretch the elastic elements allow for in movement. (The same reason a tennis ball can bounce and a bowling ball cannot.) Stiffness and rigidity does not make for stretch and elasticity, instead walking or running becomes heavy and sluggish, and each step will require more energy and the muscles will fatigue quicker. Practising the Alexander Technique creates length and expansion of our whole muscular system, whatever the activity. The Technique teaches you how to obtain an ‘inner stretch’ – meaning you don’t have to perform any particular activity to achieve it. (There are no ‘stretching’ exercises in the Technique.) Even in sitting and standing you can allow the musculature to lengthen. Then it will ready for the bouncy effect available to us in walking or running. This is just one of several ways in which the Technique makes for ease and efficiency.