Alexander Technique in Cardiff

Tim Kjeldsen

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Move Better: Feel Better: Perform Better

About the Technique


Probably most people who have heard of the Alexander Technique have gained the impression that it is to do with improving posture. This is actually rather wide of the mark; in fact posture only plays an incidental role in the Technique. To see why this is so, it is best to start with Alexander’s own experience.

Basically what Alexander discovered was that the vocal problems he was trying to solve emanated from deep-rooted patterns in the way he employed himself, not only in speaking but in all activity. These learned patterns, accumulated over his lifetime, interfered with the innate mechanisms of posture, balance and coordination and resulted in chronic muscular tension and distortion. He further came to realize that he was unable to change these patterns by direct effort because they had become so familiar to him over the years that they ‘felt right’, even though he could see that they were unhelpful. He seemed unable to prevent himself doing what ‘felt right’ even when he knew it was wrong for his purpose.

To solve this problem he developed a technique which involved cutting of at source his impulse to employ himself in a certain way by the (apparently), simple expedient of inhibiting his initial response to his desire to speak - effectively deciding not to do the activity he was intending to do. He would then reason out the use of himself needed to achieve his end effectively and project conscious messages or directions from his brain to his muscles to prepare them to perform in the desired way. Finally, at the ‘critical moment’ when he was to take his new plan into action, he would stop again and make a fresh decision, sometimes choosing to do a different activity than speaking, or even to do nothing at all. By this means he gradually overcame his instinctive tendency to revert to his old, familiar way of doing things and was able to employ a new and reasoned use of himself in speaking, in spite of its feeling ‘wrong’ at first.

Of course, this new way of using himself came to ‘feel right’ over time, but in the process he had gained something more valuable than merely an improved set of basic postural and movement habits; he had found a reliable way to bring about change in his use of himself even in the face of its ‘feeling wrong’. He came to realize that he had discovered something enormously important about the nature of habit and how to bring it under control.

He came to realize that the core problem he had identified in his own use of himself, was shared by the great majority of people, and that he could teach them the same technique that he had evolved. To help overcome the difficulties people naturally found in bringing about a new and unfamiliar use of themselves, he developed a highly refined way of using his hands to impart gentle manual guidance and information which students could use to help them identify and remove excessive muscular tension. Alexander Technique teachers have continued to develop and refine this use of hands and it forms a major resource for students learning the work.

The Technique is simple to learn in principle; although it can be challenging in practice. However, the benefits of gaining even a rudimentary grasp can be very considerable, and it is typically these benefits which inspire people to go on to seek greater mastery of how they direct and control their use of themselves.

Quick quotes


The ethologist Nikolas Tinbergen dedicated half of his Nobel Prize winning speech in 1963 to an account of Alexander’s discoveries.

Many famous musicians and actors like Paul Newman, Sting, William Hurt and John Cleese have learned it and testified to its benefits.

The Alexander Technique is now taught in virtually every college of music and drama throughout the world.