Who Can Benefit?

“[W]e already notice, with growing amazement, very striking improvements in such diverse things as high blood pressure, breathing, depth of sleep, overall cheerfulness and mental alertness, resilience against outside pressures, and also in such a refined skill as playing a stringed instrument.”
Nikolaas Tinbergen, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1973[1]

Anyone with sufficient motivation to change long-standing habits can benefit from the Alexander Technique. Alexander is quoted as saying: "We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains."[2]

The reasons people come for lessons are many and varied; common reasons include:

  • back[3], neck and shoulder pain;
  • stress, anxiety and depression;
  • breathing difficulties;
  • poor posture;
  • voice problems;
  • pregnancy and childbirth;
  • osteoarthritis and joint problems;
  • RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome; and
  • recovery from surgery or injury.

The Alexander Technique is also widely used by performers, such as actors, singers, musicians and dancers, and by athletes and sportsmen. The Alexander Technique offers them a powerful resource in overcoming deleterious habits that are impeding performance; it improves balance, breathing and co-ordination, and aids in the management of performance anxiety. For this reason, Alexander Technique lessons are included in the curricula of major music and drama schools around the world.

But you need not have anything "wrong" with you to benefit from the Alexander Technique. Anyone wanting to live life more fully and consciously and to embark on a journey of continuous learning and discovery will gain much from its study. Alexander wrote in 1910 in his first book, Man’s Supreme Inheritance:

It is my belief, confirmed by the research and practice of nearly twenty years, that man's supreme inheritance of conscious guidance and control is within the grasp of anyone who will take the trouble to cultivate it. That it is no esoteric doctrine or mystical cult, but a synthesis of entirely reasonable propositions that can be demonstrated in pure theory and substantiated in common practice. . . .

It is essential that the peoples of civilization should comprehend the value of their inheritance, that outcome of the long process of evolution which will enable them to govern the uses of their own physical mechanisms. . . . This triumph is not to be won in sleep, in trance, in submission, in paralysis, or in anaesthesia, but in a clear, open-eyed, reasoning, deliberate consciousness and apprehension of the wonderful potentialities possessed by mankind, the transcendent inheritance of a conscious mind.[4]

[1] Taken from his Nobel Prize Lecture, half of which he devoted to the Alexander Technique and the benefits he and his family derived from it. You can read his lecture here (link opens in a new window).
[2] F. M. Alexander, Articles and Lectures ed. Jean M. O. Fischer (London: Mouritz, 1995), p. 197
[3] A randomised controlled trial published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2008 concluded: "One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain." To read the full research click here (link opens in a new window).
[4] F. M. Alexander, Man’s Supreme Inheritance (1910; 6th edn, London: Mouritz, 1996), pp. XVIII, 141 and 146