The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique

Could bad posture be the root of all your problems? Simple misalignments in posture can cause uncomfortable stress on your body. The Alexander technique aims to improve physical and mental capabilities by increasing awareness and control in everyday activities.

Developed in 1890 by Australian actor F.M. Alexander, this technique has been praised Nobel Prize winner Niko Tinbergen and many other physiologists. Alexander developed this technique as a way releasing accumulated muscle tension before it gives rise to more serious problems like chronic back pain, hypertension, and arthritis,.

Both chronic and immediate pains are treated through the same technique: guiding body alignment and reinforcing correct posture. “It’s a way of waking up a body awareness that’s gone dormant,” says Dana Ben-Yehuda, spokesperson for the American Society for the Alexander Technique.

Private and group sessions that employ the Alexander Technique are available.  In a typical class, the instructor will examine how you move in everyday situations like sitting, standing and walking.  It is these common situations where your body unknowingly overcompensates for bad posture, causing stress.  Using verbal cues and gentle physical prompting, instructors retrain your head, neck, shoulders, and back to stay in proper alignment. 

If the class setting is inconvenient, you can practice the Alexander Technique at home.  Have a friend snap some digital pics of you from the side so you can see how your body rests normally when standing. Ben-Yehuda says simply looking in the mirror won’t cut it. Pay special attention to your spinal alignment. Your shoulders shouldn’t be rounded; instead, they should be directly over your hips, knees, and ankles. Your back shouldn’t be overarched, and your head shouldn’t poke forward. If it looks like you’re all out of whack, focus on standing and sitting as correctly as possible at all times or consider an appointment for lessons in the technique.

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