The story of Aldous Huxley
Imagine: It’s the mid-1930s.
The writer Aldous Huxley was already known for his futuristic novel“Brave New World”.
For years he has struggled, in vain, with his clumsiness, chronic fatigue and weak stomach.
He feels too tall, considers his movements awkward.
He has no confidence in himself or his body. For example, he would rather have died than speak in public.
Today the problem has reached its climax as he is bedridden, forced to work with a typewriter on his stomach.
His writing career is threatened by his general state of health when he is only in his early forties.
He can’t imagine a worse situation.
He then discovered the Alexander Technique and his life changed dramatically:
His lessons with F.M. Alexander enabled him to resume his normal activities and live in good health for another quarter century.
The work with F.M. Alexander impressed him so much that he referred to it in many of his later works. He even made Alexander one of his characters in“Eyeless in Gaza”.
Here is what he wrote about the Technique after taking lessons with Alexander:
The Alexander Technique[La Technique Alexander] [The Alexander Technique] gives us all the things we have been looking for in a system of physical education: relief from strain due to maladjustment, and consequent improvement in physical and mental health, increased consciousness of the physical means employed to gain the ends proposed by the will and, along with this, a general heightening of consciousness on all levels… We cannot ask more from any system of physical education; nor, if we seriously desire to alter human beings in a desirable direction, can we ask any less.
Note : [The Alexander Technique] replaces ItAldous Huxley
I think this quote from Huxley sums up the value of the Alexander Technique.
But, for you what are the benefits of practicing the Alexander Technique?
To illustrate my point I have translated some quotes from famous students who have practised the Alexander Technique.
Let’s go !
Learn to move naturally again
Students of the Alexander Technique students rid themselves of bad postural habits and are helped to reach with their bodies and minds, an enviable degree of freedom of expression.Michael Langham – Actor, Director
The Alexander Technique helps you restore your natural coordination:
You learn to stop your bad habits.
Indirectly, the balance, tone and alignment of your body changes.
You will find a better alignment of the different parts of your body.
The freedom in your joints and movements increases.
A feeling of ease of movement, expansion of your body and a very pleasant serenity settles in you.
You feel like you’ve been reunited. And your movements become easier to perform.
I find the Alexander Technique very helpful in my work. Things happen without you trying. They get to be light and relaxed. You must see a Professor Alexander to show you. You must get an Alexander teacher to show it to you.John Cleese – Actor : Monthy Python
Manage your stress better
[The Alexander Technique] is a way to turn stress into joy.Juliette Binoche – Actress
Stressful situations are a part of life:
I wish I could say otherwise, but they cannot be avoided.
To believe the opposite would be like believing in Santa Claus! 😉
However, you can learn to change your reaction to stress.
Applying the Alexander Technique is a great help in dealing with your most difficult moments in life:
- As soon as a stressful situation happens to you: you have the choice to stop reacting as usual.
- Before you let yourself be carried away by stress and the negative emotions associated with it, the Alexander Technique invites you to take a very brief moment of “inhibition”.
- To add a bit of “nothing” before reacting to it.
- This moment allows you to become aware of your usual reaction and, if necessary, to change it.
- The aim is to break the vicious circle that normally occurs in this kind of situation.
The Alexander Technique has helped me to undo knots, unblock energy and deal with almost paralysing stage fright.William Hurt – Actor
Which brings us to the next benefit…
Access a calm and serene presence and awareness
By stopping your bad habits, you develop more calm and presence to yourself and others.
Your sensations become more reliable and alert. You have a clearer mind to “be” and to communicate with those around you.
The awareness you develop helps you stay in the moment.
Your attention and concentration improve. This state of awakening to the world and to your surroundings is cheerful and helps you to put things into perspective.
The Alexander Technique makes a real difference to my often tense and busy life. Its thoughtful approach has made me calmer, improved my concentration and given me a clearer sense of my own well being. I am grateful for it.Joan Bakewell – TV Presenter, Author
Gain confidence and well-being
The Alexander Technique brings calm and serenity.
A feeling of lightness and flexibility throughout your body.
Changing your bad habits indirectly leads to a better self-esteem.
Indeed, all the expansion that you learn to offer yourself on a daily basis helps you to take your rightful place.
The repeated experience of using your body better helps you to gain confidence in yourself.
Attention: Here, I do not mean “blind and arrogant” confidence but rather a confidence of the type:
“I am content with who I am today. The state of my body and its relationship to my mind is what it is and I can rely on the resources of my being.”
I would say that it is a trust built on the awareness of our fragility. The kind of confidence that only real compassion for yourself can bring.
The Alexander Technique can be sustaining; it is something that if learned well, can be carried along with you for the rest of your life. It gives you confidence to be who you are when you are up in front of an audience.Patrick Maddams– Director of the Royal Academy of Music
Improve your breathing
When you take care of the expansion of your whole body, your back becomes more flexible. It takes up its length and width.
The movements of your ribs are released. The coordination between your ribs and your diaphragm is restored.
This restores all the movements necessary for a full and natural breathing.
Your spine regains its length as you exhale. Your breathing becomes calmer.
Let me emphasize that it is the expansion and calmness that you offer yourself through your conscious directions that indirectly releases the breath.
Many techniques give us exercises with very direct and directed guidelines for breathing.
Some of these directives are in fact opposed. We are told everything and anything about breathing and it is very difficult not to want to “get it right” when we are told about breathing.
But is this the solution? Adding another layer of “good pupil attitude” to our lives?
The Alexander Technique takes the opposite view: what bad habit can you stop so that your breathing frees itself.
We don’t want to breathe “deeply” or anything. We assume that breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system.
If you don’t interfere with the system, your breathing will regulate itself: obviously, you don’t need to breathe as if you were sprinting the 100m hurdles when you are calmly meditating. 😉
Improve your practice of an art or sport
Practicing an art or a sport requires a fine coordination of all parts of yourself: both mental and physical.
The Alexander Technique helps you find a balance of muscle tone adapted to each situation.
It teaches you to approach your learning process in a calm manner and to take the necessary breaks to assimilate your movements.
I can definitely say without hesitation that I wouldn’t have had the rowing success that I have had the luxury of experiencing in my short time on the water, without finding the Alexander Technique and the great teachers that I have had the privilege to work with.Valerie Thompson-Williams – Rowing Champion
Improve your speaking, singing and public speaking skills
The calmness and presence you learn to give yourself makes you better able to speak in public with ease.
Without feeling like you have to do a lot. The effort required to produce a clear and powerful sound is reduced and your speech becomes clearer.
The psychophysical work of the Alexander Technique prepares you to deal with stage fright as well as the anxiety of the most difficult passages.
I follow the Alexander Technique for 15 minutes each morning. It’s a way of helping my vocal production and control, but when my stress levels are high during filming, it gives me a break.Richard Armitage – Actor
The Technique’s many benefits for actors include minimized tension, centredness, vocal relaxation, responsiveness, mind/body connection and about an inch and a half of additional heightRichard Armitage – Actor
Of all the disciplines that for the actor training program, non is ore vital, enriching and transformative than the Alexander Technique.Harold Stone – Director Julliard School : theatre section
Relieve your pain
97% of people with back pain could benefit by learning the Alexander Technique – it is only a very small inority of back pain sufferers that require medical intervention such as surgery.Jack Stern – Spinal Neurosurgeon
The Alexander Technique helps you to relieve pain caused by the daily repetition of bad habits.
Gradually, you learn to leave your joints and muscles quieter before and during the action.
You only use the energy you need to do what you need to do. No more and no less.
Your awareness of where things need to move heightens. When moving, you learn to respect your body’s natural design.
The Alexander Technique will benefit anyone whether they are an elite athlete or whether they just wish to live life without the aches and pains that many people suffer and accept as part of life. It is a pity that these techniques are not shown to us all at an early age for I have no doubt that this would alleviate many of the causes of ill health in our communities.Greg Chapell – Crickett Champion
The Alexander Technique really works. I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone with neck or back pain.Roald Dahl – Author
Learn to say no
The Alexander Technique teaches you to say no to yourself to stop bad habits.
By cultivating these pauses before acting, you gain clarity of mind. You are more aware of your limitations.
You learn to listen to these boundaries more quickly and make the decisions necessary to set them. Indirectly, it also teaches you to set boundaries for those around you to respect your integrity.
You develop your ability to choose what is really good for you.
Improving well-being in the workplace
The Alexander Technique is also taught in some companies to avoid problems and pain related to stress at work. This greatly improves the well-being of employees.
- The company Victorinox, well known for its Swiss army knives, has developed a whole program for its employees.
- Lazlo Block, Senior Vice President, People Operations at Google, recommends the Alexander Technique for people who work at a desk. He talks about this in his book “Work Rules”.
I can’t imagine the business today without the Alexander Technique.Paul Auf der Moor – Victorinox
If interested (and have 45 minutes of free time), you can watch this video of John Baron giving a talk on the Alexander Technique at Google headquarters.
You now have a good idea of the benefits of practising the Alexander Technique.
And you, have you practiced the Alexander Technique?
What were the benefits for you?
If you have never tried it, you may still have questions.
Let’s have a discussion in the comments below this article!