The Alexander Technique is a physical movement discipline with a focus on self-perception of movement. It is claimed to alleviate pain, promote rehabilitation, improve breathing, and decrease stage fright, as well as improve other conditions related to overcompensation.
More Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Technique
I'm at least an inch taller now
Social Anxiety Background
Social anxiety has affected me since I was in elementary school. While it was triggered initially by a traumatic experience, it is something that runs in the family and I certainly had a predisposition for. Some examples of how it manifested itself over the years: avoiding certain types of social situations and friends, avoiding public speaking, avoiding the opposite sex completely, hiding in the library during lunch, the thought of just walking down certain hallways at my highschool terrified me, fear of being around large groups of people, fear and avoidance of going to parties or social gatherings, etc. My social anxiety started to get severe when I dropped out of college after one quarter because of my social anxiety. That's when I started to get uncomfortable just leaving my apartment and hit "the bottom" so to speak. Through treatment with group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) for mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and medication I've been able to live the balanced life that I value and form healthy friendships and relationships.
Exercise could be seen as similar in that it involves using your body, but I don't either is a substitute for the other. Both are beneficial in different ways.
How do I explain Alexander Technique? I don't really know, so I'll just jump into my motivation for taking it originally.
I'm tall and lanky. 6'3" and 170 pounds. I've always had a terrible posture. Hunchback could be used to describe me. I didn't like the fact that I had a bad posture, but couldn't seem to "will" my way out of it.
One thing I pursued to try to correct it was a DVD program called Power Posture where you would do posture stretches everyday to help improve your posture.
It didn't work. I would still with a bad posture at the computer and bad posture while standing and walking around, ESPECIALLY when I was anxious. I would bend in my back to lower myself to other people's levels becaues I didn't believe I should stand above people (this was all unconscious).
In the back of mind I think I knew that it wasn't that my muscles were limiting me from having good postures, it was just that I'd learned bad habits and was having a lot of trouble breaking those habits. Focusing on my posture consciously just increased my anxiety too, which was frustrating.
With that, I took a leap of faith and tried Alexander Technique. I've been doing it for about six months every week or every other week.
How did it go?
Well as I write this my back is completely flat and I'm sitting up straight and it's completely natural for me. When I walk around it's the same story. People who have known me for a while regularly comment on how much taller I am, including my mom, and jokingly comment that I must still be growing. I've learned that good use of my body is not just a physical thing, but very much mental as well, it's a reflection of your self that you are projecting to others.
What does Alexander Technique actually involve (most descriptions don't make much sense)?
It's pretty simple. You work with a practitioner who does very simple exercises with you, sitting, standing and laying down while touching and rubbing different parts of your body. There are times when I'm out and about when it feels like my practitioners hand is on my back reminding me to keep it flat. How cool!
The one thing that is a limiting factor with it is the cost. In most cases you work one on one with a certified practitioner. While it's covered by insurance in the UK, as far as I know it is not covered anywhere else.
That being said, I highly recommend this to anyone with social anxiety as part of their path to living the life they want to.
I've always had poor posture as well and have been curious about the AT. I just assumed I had weak muscles so I would try to lift weight using back and stuck....trying to tighten everything up. My posture is so bad, I've thought about seeing a physical therapist.
I'll check this out.
this is your personal review Drew? I saw in the other threads you posted the user's name along with the review but not this one, so it is yours? and 5 stars.. cool I will see what this is about :)
so it's not really possible to learn this without a practitioner? how about if I just try to have better posture and put my own hands on my body when I am correcting this lol.. well in any event I am sitting up straighter now when I was very hunched before reading your experience.
I know what you mean about it making you more anxious to try and perfect your posture in the company of other people as I've been quite self conscious in my days.. well what do you suggest? is there no alternative to seeing a practitioner?
It actually works
The question of our reactions is the key to it. If we didn't react the way we do then our anxiety wouldn't be a problem.
The key for me has been to see that my anxiety has been learnt and only persists because it is the only option I have. With other options come other choices about how to do things in social situations, which you can't have if things are always the same.
Of course I didn't choose the anxiety deliberately but now I have abetter way of dealing with people and things and if I'm anxious now I see I do choose it. Initially I went for lessons because of my posture but it's not about posture at all even though everything you read says that it is (and sometimes doesn't make sense I agree).
What's good is that it isn't a therapy and helps lots of people with lots of problems which i liked, not some special thing for my special problem.
I tried the Alexander Technique many years ago when I lived in New York City. It was very helpful. But very expensive and at the time, not covered by insurance. With the global recession, I am sure that there are reduced rates. As with talk therapy, continuity is key. I have found that a much less expensive alternative is at-home stretching. I enjoy placing my spine on a foam roller (the cost was about $20) and doing simple stretches.
I'm not sure what I should say. I feel like I need to explain myself before I actually type what I want to say...this sucks...anyway.*sigh...As crazy as it might seem. I'm in an acting class. My minor is Drama because I love directing and art design. Acting is part of the requirement. My last two instructors have mentioned Alexander Technique in reference to it's usefulness on stage, but I never connected it to helping with anxiety. This only makes it more interesting. I'm also happy to hear it's highly recommended. Thanks for the reviews.
i too have same prob i hunched alot to hide my boobs when i was about 14 thn i hunched 4ever and realized that my boobs still looked big no matter what so it wasnt nescessary to hunch, now its too late, my bones are hunched even if i try not to :eek:
i'll try to stretch in bed like one here said
Seems very interesting, I always remind myself to have a good posture, also your neck needs to be straight, I'll check out this method.
Alexander Technique teaching method
Yes I have been looking into the Alexander Technique myself recently. Originally I was hoping to learn from a book, but after having had one introductory lesson I now understand why it can only properly be learned from a teacher.
The teacher held my body in certain positions in order to limit their range of movement and asked me to move. By moving with these parts of my body fixed with relation to each other, I could then feel how the correct motion was meant to feel.
And actually it did feel great. I think it is hard to teach ourselves these new habits of motion, without a teacher showing us exactly what is the correct way of moving.
Anyway the main point I have discovered is that the Alexander Technique has a great many side 'benefits' for the practitioner. Included in this are boosted self esteem and a general increased sense of well being. Once we learn how to move with proper use of our bodies then we don't waste energy then we enjoy a heightened vitality and many other benefits including good posture.
I have not found Alexander Technique teachers to be prohibitively expensive, so I would encourage anybody else to seek out a teacher locally. Often introductory lessons last one hour and are reasonably priced.
One Alexander Technique resource which proved useful to me is here: http://www.atglasgow.com
I have not had another lesson, though I intent to. But i do feel I got a lot of benefit from the one initial lesson. It was a couple of months ago now. But still I feel myself practicing what I learned in that one session.
additional info form AT teacher
My name is Martin Kostir and reading through your posts, I though I would leave a comment as I am AT teacher myself.
First of all, I don't have any form of anxiety (I started with AT to help my chronic back pain), however I did / still do work with people with all sorts of anxiety.
The interesting thing is that quite a number of my students would start having lessons with me to improve posture / relieve pain, but only after some time, when they build a relationship of trust with me as a teacher, only then they would bring out the fact that they suffer some sort of anxiety.
The nature of the technique invariably leads to this revelation.
Few points to mention about the main principles of AT.
1/ It deals with body and mind together - so no matter why students start having lessons, they end up improving both (so yes, it does have positive effects on your mental state).
2/By it's definition, AT is a skill that teaches you something new that you don't possess as you start. This new experience is different for every student, even for each individual student in different lessons. You always learn something new - that's the nature of the work.
3/Yes, generally AT lessons seem to be expensive at first. However taking in account how effective it is, it may end up being the cheapest solution to a problem.
Example: Most of my students have chronic neck / back pain - that's my specialty. When they come and I tell them that they might need 3 - 6 months worth of lessons (600 - 1400 AUD) they just role eyes inside their eyes.
Then we do the maths - and it ends up that in the past year, they would spend 6 thousand on chiropractors / drugs / physios. And suddenly, it doesn't seem to be so much. So yes, it is relative.
4/ Can you learn it yourself from a book?
Well, Yes and No.
F.M.Alexander figured it out himself. He had no teacher, he was the first.
So yes, it is possible, but you have to take in account the context.
He spent years of his life dedicated to his investigation. Hours a day in front of a Mirror observing himself. He came from relatively wealthy family, so he could afford doing that.
So if you don't have his commitment / passion / dedication, you will NOT learn it on your own. No way.
The teacher is a extreme shortcut (yes, I know it doesn't look like it at first) , money and time saver. Do yourself a favor and see a teacher if you want to explore more.
As someone who already was through the training and who teaches it now: AT will teach you something that you don't have any idea about until you learn it. The only way to understand it is in retrospect.
I give an analogy of the movie Matrix. Neo had no idea about matrix until he was unplugged. Now get into Neo's skin at the start of the movie. If someone would try to explain to him what the matrix is inside of the matrix, he would not understand / believe. Everything became obvious only after he took the step aside and got a new perspective.
Alexander Technique is very much like that.
Hope this will help to some.
Cool :) thanks!
When sit in front of a pc, my leg and back are crooked, every time.
I was wondering, why I let out my voice is not easy, so I try to maintain good posture. Thank you for your great post. :)
This technique is very useful for personal development. It's popular among actors, musicians, dancers, athletes and public speakers. I personally recommend everyone to practice it.
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