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Harvard Health Blog
The Alexander Technique can help you (literally) unwind
- By: Eva Selhub MD,
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
I am wondering if Harvard Medical is going to begin offering Alexander Technique lessons to its students and faculty. Surgeons and dentists are notorious for poor posture and back/neck pain.
I have been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 30 years and I have yet to see a person who did not benefit from learning this technique. Whether a person uses it to prevent the pain, discomfort or other issues related to posture and movement, or to improve the outcome of any activity or action we do, we as modern humans, could all benefit from having the knowledge and awareness gained from learning the Alexander Technique.
Its a nice article about a scientifically and anecdotally proven method. However I saw a you tube clip the other day that said Alexander had performance anxiety and his problem was not postural. I could believe either or none and it would have no effect on what I know to be proven, however…. Was Alexander’s problem mental thus postural or was he just unable to physically speak ‘correctly’? Does AT help other mental glitches like say depression or mania, bipolar etc?
I have not seen the video you mention. However, as a certified AT teacher, I can respond to several of your questions. First, Alexander wrote extensively about the unity of mind and body and would not have classified a problem as “mental” or “postural.” He did not lose his voice due to performance anxiety. Instead, the set of habits that caused him to lose his voice were indeed “postural” or said differently, related to his “use” of himself. You can read about Alexander’s process of self-discovery in his first book, entitled The Use of the Self. As for AT helping with “mental glitches”, the AT is taught as a means whereby a student gains awareness of the use and function of the whole self. I have certainly had students who reported improvement with the conditions you listed after a regular course of AT lessons. Still, it is important to remember that the AT is distinctly situated as an educational method and not a mode of treatment.
I appreciate the reference to AT as a mental discipline, evoking the reasoned constructive use of oneself through conscious directing for health and well-being (rather than automatic, subconscious and habitual processes that may be harmfully carried out). Thinking in activity!
I use AT to help me get to sleep.
I have been teaching the Alexander Technique in Washington, DC since the 1970’s. Great to see the many benefits mentioned on your blog.
As both a physical therapist and a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I find that many injuries and body issues can be resolved even more completely with lessons in the Alexander Technique. It is a movement re-education approach based on sound neuro-physiological principles that is easy and enjoyable to learn.
As both a physical therapist and a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I find that Alexander Technique can often be even more helpful than PT for resolving many different types of injuries and body issues. A certified teacher can also be found at www(dot)ati-net(dot)com.
I have been teaching the Alexander Technique for almost twenty years, and the opportunity for exploring and developing human potential is profound.
It’s so great to see the Alexander Technique get some due. The Technique is best known to help people with neck pain, back pain, posture and more.
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