F M Alexander (1869 – 1955) was an actor who as a young man developed voice problems which threatened his career. After years of patient observation and experimentation with himself, he discovered that:
- most of us have lost the ease and grace of movement which we had as children.
- our habitual ways of doing things (our ‘use’) can cause problems to develop over time, with effects ranging from discomfort to disability.
- what we think has a profound effect on the way we use ourselves in everything we do.
- to give ourselves an opportunity to change the way we do things, we need to stop, notice our habitual actions and reactions, and then learn to re-establish a more natural and easy way of being.
- for most people, it is possible to restore good use at any age.
He particularly noticed that the almost universal habit of pulling ourselves ‘back and down’ leads to tension and collapse, which affects not only muscles and joints, but also breathing, digestion and our functioning generally. After much work on himself, he developed a way of using his hands and words to guide others in both their thinking and their movement which restored both strength and ease in activity. He successfully developed, practised and taught his Technique right up until his death. Alexander teachers worldwide now train for three years, learning to apply these methods to the wide-ranging needs and interests of present-day students.
“The most valuable knowledge we can possess is of the use and functioning of the self.” (F. M. Alexander)