The Alexander Technique and Posture
Holding yourself in a position has nothing to do with good posture. It is how you respond with your postural skills that make the difference in shaping your body.
In an aging population, postural change is almost always a change for the worse. Between 20 and 80 there is an increasing tendency for the stature to shorten, the waist to thicken, the chest to flatten, and the head to thrust forward and down… a gradual surrender of civilized man to the inexorable force of gravity…
—Dr. Frank Pierce Jones, Tufts University 1964.
Many people accept these deteriorating changes in their appearance as unavoidable. Others are relying on cosmetic surgery, fitness programs and equipment, supplements, spa treatments and weight loss programs to slow the effects of aging.
Yet, even after success with these programs, a person's tension and misbalance can degrade appearance and disrupt healthy functioning.
Postural change is active rather than passive. Your muscles must contract to produce a change from good to bad posture. Due to stress, injury, unconscious or conscious learning, the disruptive contractions accumulate into a habit over many years. When this happens all the time and goes undetected, the result is poor posture and pain.
The chain reaction of the stress response leading to poor posture and injury:
- The neck tenses, thrusting the head forward and down, as a common response to most ordinary stimuli (stress response).
- This triggers two postural reflexes:
- Muscular tone in the neck muscles is monitored by the nervous system. Any tension is detected and results in an associated message of tension to the rest of the body.
- Balance organs in and around the ear detect the disruption of balance between the head and spine caused by tension. These organs alert the nervous system to control compensating misbalance throughout the rest of the body.
- Tension and misbalance start to feel normal and you no longer know how to perform without it.
- All body parts are then operating under the resistance of strain.
- Repeated movements under these circumstances lead to injury, chronic fatigue and other undesirable conditions associated with poor posture.
Your habitual posture and physiological functioning (breathing, circulation structural support, coordinated movement, etc.) are seriously compromised by this response when it goes unfelt. It may feel normal or even necessary in everyday tasks or special performance.
To change your posture and functioning, you must learn to coordinate the essential postural reflexes. Most people have no idea how far off they are until it is pointed out to them.
Alexander Technique teachers offer a unique solution to this problem. With gentle hands-on guidance, they help you restore the innate postural reflexes - a natural poise with a dynamic force that counters gravity and easily guides the torso upward.
Learning the technique gives you skill and tools to use in your daily life to change to ease and balance resulting in lightness and better posture. You feel great after a session with a teacher and you continue to feel free and confident on your own.