How does the technique work?
The Alexander Technique teaches the ability to make a new choice in how to use self instead of the usual patterns.
It makes it possible to consciously choose how to respond to a stimulus rather than letting our body and mind automatisms act. The Alexander Technique teacher uses his voice and the contact of his hands to propose directions for the acquisition of a new schema of use. This work applies to all our daily activities (standing, sitting, resting, sitting, standing, bending, walking, talking, etc.) or in more specific activities (professional, artistic and sports).
Progress is achieved through reeducation of sensory appreciation. The technique relies on the consciousness of proprioception and uses thought to encourage a dynamic of expansion in the body. The learning work allows the gradual restoration of a natural coordination of all the joints with particular attention given to the mobility of the atlanto-occipital joint (between the head and the neck).
Recognition of habits
F. Alexander assumed that he was doing something different when he recited his theatrical text, compared to the situation where he normaly spoke.He observed himself in a mirror while he was declaiming and realized that he had a tendency to send his head back and down and that this trend, although existent, was less pronounced when he spoke normally. He supposed that this habit could interfere with the functioning of his voice and his breathing and thus be the source of his problem, which he later confirmed since by changing his usual way of doing, his vocal and respiratory problems have faded away. He also observed that his habit of sending the head back and down was associated with other habits: that of shortening his torso, lifting the chest, digging his back, grabbing the ground with his feet. This allowed him to glimpse the global and nonspecific nature of the problem he was facing. Moreover, he discovered that the global use he made of himself was determinant not only in his vocal practice but also in all his activities.
This term is used to describe the possibility of not acting without having consciously chosen the most appropriate means to perform an action. The student learns to refuse to react automatically to a stimulus, in other words to a habits, to consider ways that will allow him to react in a more advantageous way, that is to say a better use of the self. There is no connection between the inhibition of Alexander and the current meaning of the term inherited of Sigmund Freud's work: Alexander's inhibition is not repressive, it offers on the contrary a possibility to be liberate from limiting habits.
The choice of a conscious movement
F. Mr. Alexander observed the existence of a "primordial control", that is to say, a necessary relationship between the head, neck and back for optimal overall coordination. This relationship, encouraged by thought, is not a position. It is rather determined by a certain three-dimensional distribution of tension and compression in the musculoskeletal network. This distribution brings at the same time a bearing structure and a freedom for the movement. The primordial control allows elongation, enlargement of the trunk and release of the joints.