Many of those who are drawn to the health benefits of practising pilates are also interested in the Alexander Technique and there's little doubt that your mind and body can benefit from both.
Joseph Pilates and Frederick Matthias Alexander were both pioneers in the field of exercise and both realised the importance of a holistic approach to health that saw mind and body.
Born within a few years of each other, the two men had many things in common including poor health in childhood and a desire to develop ways of overcoming health problems. Frederick Alexander was born in Tasmania in 1869 and it was a career in acting and not medicine that led him to develop the Alexander Technique.
He suffered from respiratory problems which affected his voice to the point where his life as a thespian was under serious threat of being brought to a grinding halt. He sought medical advice, but when doctors were unable to help him, he began to develop his own techniques which finally cured him.
So successful were his techniques, that he became known for his vocal strengths and began to help other actors and singers who sufffered from similar problems. Doctors then started to refer patients with respiratory problems with positive results and Alexander's repuation began to grow.
In 1904, Frederick Alexander moved to London, England, in a bid to further promote the Alexander Technique and his fame grew both in Europe and North America where he also spent time.
In 1931, he established a formal Alexander Technique teacher training course and he continued to run these three year courses right up to his death at the age of 86 in 1955.
Today, there are around 3,000 qualified teachers of the Alexander Technique around the world.
Principles Of The Alexander Technique
The body has natural inbuilt reflexes that allows it to function to its maximum capacity.
As children we take these reflexes for granted and our movements are fluid and easy. However, thanks to the stresses and strains of every day life, these reflexes can be damaged as we leave childhood behind and become adults.
Our bodies can amass large amounts of unwanted tensions which can lead to back and neck problems, high blood pressure, insomnia and even depression. By examining posture, breathing, balance and co-ordination, and by recognising and identifying the causes of the problems that we suffer from, the mind and body can be re-educated. The Alexander Techique focuses on this need for re-education and can help reduce muscular tension and to alleviate related problems. By relearning how to perform everyday actions you can identify your subconscious tensions and release them. It will teach you how to sit, stand and walk in a way that puts less strain on your bones, joints and muscles, thus making your body work more efficiently.
The Alexander Technique And Who It Can Help
The Alexander Technique is particularly helpful to those who are suffering from back problems or for those recovering from injury.
It is part of the curriculum in the performance schools of music, acting, circus and dance, and is now widely used in sport training.
It can also help people with speech problems, such as stuttering, and has been used to treat with insomnia, phobias, anxieties and depression can benefit from the Alexander Technique.
Alexander Technique Classes
In a typical Alexander Technique class, your teacher will guide you through a series of actions by using their hands to direct, improve and modify your posture and movement.
Classes can be one to one or in groups - in group classes the pupils can watch each others' movements. The movements are done both standing and while lying on a table. By lying down, the pupil can work on the principles of movement without having to maintain balance too.