The Alexander technique is a mind–body technique that works with the nervous system and the physical startle pattern and fight–flight–fright stress response to change how people react to the often aggravating and stressful stimuli of everyday modern life. It does this through making people aware of their unconscious, habitual mental and physical responses to stimuli, and teaching them to stop and to consciously redirect their bodies – and particularly their head, neck and back – in order to bring about a more balanced and mindful response to the stimuli around them.

This improved use of the head, neck and back over time slowly calms the nervous system, enabling increased affect regulation (emotional balance), clearer thinking, and improved use and coordination of the entire body. Pain tends to lessen and many physical conditions tend to improve or abate. People who use the Alexander technique in living also tend to find themselves calmer and happier and leading more productive lives due to their more conscious and more considered (or mindful) responses to stress.

The physical startle pattern (fight–flight–fright stress response). Credit:  iStock Photo

The physical startle pattern (fight–flight–fright stress response). Credit: iStock Photo

A man showing one of the many manifestations of stress. Credit:  iStock Photo

A man showing one of the many manifestations of stress. Credit: iStock Photo

The physical startle pattern (fight–flight–fright stress response) seen very clearly in animals. Credit:  pasunautre.com

The physical startle pattern (fight–flight–fright stress response) seen very clearly in animals. Credit: pasunautre.com

People of all ages, including older people and children, can benefit. Learn more about who can be helped by the Alexander technique and also its benefits.

Patrick Macdonald, a Master first-generation teacher trained by FM Alexander, gives the following definition of the Alexander technique:

"The Technique is generally regarded as one for altering the postural behaviour of individuals, and indeed it can be so regarded. However, it concerns itself with considerably more than this. It is a technique for altering the reaction of the individual to the stimuli of his environment, and thus it can be applied to the whole range of human activities, whether these be regarded as just thought processes or processes involving predominantly muscular activity."

(The Alexander technique as I see it, pp. 52–3)

Find out about what happens in an Alexander lesson and also learn how the Alexander technique was developed and how it works.

Learn how the Alexander technique differs from other therapies and hands-on modalities.

See the glossary for more information about common Alexander technique terms and concepts.

Find out more about Maria and about lessons with Maria in the Alexander technique.

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