What is the Alexander Technique?



‘Use’ affects functioning

The body and mind is a unit. The way how we use ourselves in every day life affects the structure and functioning of our body. The habitual way how we move; walk, sit, stand, breath, use computer or reach for a cup of tea, together with how we feel, think and react, forms the psychophysical ‘Use’ of oneself.

Habits and awareness
Our ‘Use’ is largely unconscious and habitual. Habits are an important part of our human behavior, however some of the habits we have can in time effect our health and well-being in a harmful way.

The power of the AT
The strength of the AT lies in becoming aware of and unlearning harmful habitual patterns and activating the natural support and reflex systems in the body to support us with ease and less muscular effort throughout our daily activities.

The principle of prevention in short
Even though the Alexander Technique is famous for helping people with various complaints like back pain, in it’s essence the technique is based on the ideas of prevention and increase of general well-being, rather than curing a specific complaint. You don’t need to be sick to get better.

What happens during a lesson?

The Alexander Technique is taught in private lessons, by a qualified teacher who has completed a three-year, full-time teacher training.

During a lesson the principles are experienced in simple every day activities like sitting, standing and walking; all with gentle hands on guidance and verbal instructions from the teacher. Part of the lesson may include lying down in a semi-supine, allowing this classic AT position to give full support and relief for the back. 

You can also choose to focus on specific tasks like working at the computer, lifting up heavy things, speaking, playing an instrument etc. On the first lesson motives and goals can be discussed with your private teacher. 

The Alexander Technique is suitable for people of all ages and levels of physical fitness.

Is there a professional society?

The Dutch society of teachers of the Alexander Technique, NeVLAT, (de Nederlandse Vereniging van Leraren in de Alexandertechniek), was founded in 1996. It works together with eighteen sister societies worldwide and has at the moment about 80 teacher members.

Other international Alexander Technique societies:

Is there scientific research about the Alexander Technique?

There is increasingly more research available about the Alexander Technique and it’s health benefits.

For example, in 2008, the British Medical Journal organized a research: “Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain”. 

In 2011 there was a review published in the International Journal of Clinical Practise about “The evidence for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons across different health related conditions”. 

In both of these researches it could be seen that the Alexander Technique gives long-term relief from back pain and is beneficial also for other health related conditions.

Links to lists of research:

Is the Alexander Technique covered by health insurance?

In The Netherlands the Alexander Technique is mostly not covered by the health insurance.

The Alexander Technique is a unique form of health promoting education, it is not therapy or manipulation but a self empowering method to take care of your own health and well being. 

In some other European countries Alexander Technique is part of the complimentary health care system, due to it's proven health benefits. 

To be sure if your health insurance covers Alexander Technique, please contact your own insurance company.

The AT is well known amongst performers, why is that?

Art and Sport
The Alexander Technique is well known amongst musicians and performers. It is taught in most music conservatories and theatre schools worldwide, with many learning it during their professional studies.
One of the reasons why AT has earned it’s firm role in the world of arts and sports, is because when applied to performing an act of art or sport, one can recognise the benefits of the AT immediately.

"Optimum muscular effort"
In order to perform an activity well, one needs just the right amount of muscular effort. This will in turn optimise the speed, preciseness and subtle movement in a performance. However it can often be difficult to judge what the "optimum muscular effort" is and how to find it? 
The Alexander Technique helps with these questions and shows how to release excessive tension and have the required tone for certain muscles.

Reaching a goal
Rehearsing and training without a clear idea of the desired result is not only difficult, but can quickly turn into mindless repetition. Practising without wanting to directly reach an end result is a task that requires advanced skills and knowledge.
The AT helps one to find ways of how to stay in the moment and in contact with one’s mind and body. The techniques can be applied in practising as well as in performance, concert or competition.

Public speaking, management
The same techniques that are used by top performers in art and sport are beneficial to anyone who needs to “keep ones cool” in any situation in life and business.




"Forty years ago, after one of my concerts, Adrian Boult told me that if I continued to conduct like that I'd become a cripple, and that I must take lessons in the Alexander Technique. Today I am still having lessons - as with music, there is no end to the learning process.  It affects not only the use of the body, but also one's views of oneself and one's behavior. For the aches and ills that come with the years, the Technique can work miracles."
Sir Colin Davis, conductor


“I find the Alexander Technique very helpful in my work. Things happen without you trying.  They get you to be light and relaxed. You must get an Alexander teacher to show it to you."
John Cleese
, Actor, Comedian, Ministry of Silly Walks
 



Alan Rickman described using the Alexander Technique to produce a "balanced sense of tension rather than relying on creating tension to do something in order to produce a sound or an act that is preconceived.”
Alan Rickman, actor and director (1946 – 2016)

Who can benefit from the AT?

Different motivations bring people to the Alexander Technique, some common examples are listed below. 

  • musculoskeletal pain and disease, like back/neck/shoulder pains, RSI, scoliosis etc. 
  • recovery from injuries
  • performance, public speaking, management,  stage fright
  • poise, posture, breathing, voice
  • stress, depression, burn out, emotional balance, self confidence
  • self development
  • movement, balance, co-ordination
  • competition, flow, training and practising
  • pregnancy, parenting

Equally, curiosity and interest about the AT, is as good a starting point as any other.

How many lessons are recommended?

Learning the Alexander Technique is like learning a new language. Already from the first lesson you can start to apply some of the basic principles in your daily activities. 

To accomplish a level that means that you can apply the technique independently, usually up to 24 lessons is recommended.

One way to start the technique is to have an ‘introduction period’, with shorter lessons more frequently, for example, twice a week. For this purpose we are offering a special deal of 30 minute lessons (8 x 30 min Card).

After the ‘introduction period’, most people continue with a 30 or 45 minute lesson once a week.

Depending on your needs and schedule the frequency can also be flexible.

Code of conduct and complaints

The professional society for Alexander Technique in the Netherlands (NeVLAT) has a official procedure for complaints based on the project Support Quality Alternative Treatment / medicine (OAKB) , conducted by the Quality Institute for Healthcare CBO and subsidized by the Ministry of Health , Welfare and Sport.