the following is edited from a previous post for Blooma
Definition: The Alexander Technique is an educational method used worldwide for over 100 years. It begins with the premise that the human organism is perfectly designed for an expansive range of activities. It is our own faulty postural habits that get in the way of this potential, but by teaching how to change those habits, the Alexander Technique improves mobility, posture, performance and alertness. A student learns to use conscious control to relieve chronic pain, tension, injury and stress.
Simply put, we are in control of our bodies. Well, duh. But what do we do in an Alexander Technique lesson? Is it like yoga? Is it like physical therapy? And how does it pertain to my pregnant/new mom/experianced mom, body?
Yes and no. Yes and no. And just wait, I'll tell you.
The Alexander Technique was created over one hundred years ago by a Tasmanian fellow named F.M. Alexander. The long and short of it is, he was having throat/vocal/breathing issues and after seeing lots of doctors and specialists who couldn't help, he decided to take a looksy in the mirror at what he was doing that could be harmful. He realized that he threw his head back and down, which contracted his spine, cut off his breath and vocal chords, and caused his toes to lift off the ground. The latter not really having anything to do with his health issues but through his process of noticing himself, he discovered this was a part of the habit. Thus the beginning of the Technique: 1st step, Awareness. The 2nd idea, Inhibition, is simple. He would just stop throwing his head back and down and lifting his toes off the ground. The 3rd idea in the process, Direction, meant that he then channeled, or directed, his head to release forward and up and the tension in his feet and toes to undo, or release. His throat and breathing issues ceased. Not sure how his feet fared but it is likely better than before. Which is how your body will fare if you start to pay attention to it, inhibit its habits, and direct these habits in a different way.
We've already created bad habits in our bodies over the years without the added conditions of pregnancy, a newborn, or raising a toddler - habits like, locking your knees, extending your hips, swaying your back, or humping your shoulders. And, it's these physical habits that can not only make daily activities rough - sitting at a desk, waiting for the bus, pushing a grocery cart, but can make it even worse, or get accentuated, when you're pregnant or breastfeeding or picking up and carrying a kiddo.
Pay attention to yourself next time you perform one of these daily activities, use Awareness and notice whether one of these takes place. Then allow yourself to Inhibit that habit; stop yourself from doing it. Then try Directing yourself to an easeful place out of the habit with a breath.
Breath is a big part of the Alexander Technique considering it was breath that F. M. was losing. It is a great part of all three tenets described above (Awareness, Inhibition, Direction). If you don't understand the steps, at least understand breath in the same way F. M. did: we need it. And not only do the afore mentionedphysical habits keep us from breathing our best but so does daily tension and stress compounded with the tension and stress of pregnancy, giving birth, having a new baby, or dealing with a toddler. In an Alexander Technique lesson, you will learn how to become aware of your breath, inhibit your habits that may constrict or hinder it, and learn to Direct your body to create more space for breath.
Great. Sounds good. But wait, how is it like yoga? How is it like Physical Therapy?
There's a meditative quality to finding one's breath and the philosophy of bettering one's body is much the same as in Yoga. Both methods want to reveal a stronger, more balanced entity. And it's like Physical Therapy in the sense that some people come to this workshop looking to fix a particular physical issue. But, unlike some Physical Therapy practitioners, Alexander Technique teachers don't focus on the specific area but rather the body as a whole.
There are so many layers to the technique. These are just the very basics. Dive deeper into the three principles with a lesson and feel them through your body and practice them in the space. Let yourself feel and be better with the tool of the Alexander Technique.