When we are growing up, we are taught many things dealing with movement. How to walk, how to tie our shoes, how to ride a bike. But not much attention is shown to working all of the correct muscles and joints at their optimum while doing everyday things, like carrying a heavy grocery bag, or even just sitting. Think about it: Did your mother ever tell you, “Use your deltoid, not your trapezius”? Our bodies are structured to handle a multitude of actions, but not being aware of which muscle to use and when to use it can make us prone to the same old aches and pains. It can even cause us injury. This is when postural correction techniques, such as the Alexander Technique, can come in handy.
The Alexander technique is the creation of F. Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) when the performance artist noticed he was slowly losing his vocal ability. Doctors at the time were puzzled, as there was nothing medically wrong with Alexander. As it turns out, it was his posture while performing that took away from his vocals. Once he began a regimen including postural assessment (and massage), he was able to regain his voice. It was then that Alexander decided there was more to this belief in 'moving with consciousness', and that's when he engineered his famous modality. Today, the Alexander technique is used primarily by stage performers and dancers, but its benefits can be felt by anyone.
“Basically...having people come into their awareness about the way they move, un-learning how to do the wrong thing so that the right thing can do itself.” says Michael Veilleux, a licensed instructor who graduated from the Manhattan Center for the Alexander Technique (MCAT). The most crucial factor is identifying a bad habit and simply being conscious of it—the way you hold that heavy laptop bag on the train, for example. Just a few ergonomic and postural changes to your environment and your lifestyle could make a wondrous difference. Appropriately, Veilleux's take on the practical use of Alexander technique is part awareness, part diligence. “Temporary relief is important, but so is learning how to repair and re-pattern the habit...dealing with the nature of habit, so you have to be aware of what your habit is.” Old habits, as they say, really do die hard. But there is a big pay-off to dealing with them effectively. Alternative modalities such as the Alexander Technique make it possible to do just that, and to provide ourselves relief in our everyday lives.