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Alexander Therapy

Alexander Technique teaches you to improve posture, mobility and performance by unlearning negative habits.


An Introduction to the Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is a process created to retrain habitual patterns of movement and posture. Named after its founder Frederick Matthias Alexander, an actor who believed that poor habits in posture and movement damaged spatial self-awareness as well as health. He saw that movement efficiency could support overall physical well-being and viewed the technique as a mental training technique as well.

The Alexander Technique teaches improved posture and movement, which is believed to help reduce and prevent problems caused by unhelpful habits.


Main concepts of Alexander Technique

Primary control

Alexander learned that the relationship between the head, neck and torso affects the whole body. Once the head and the neck is properly aligned with the back, it will lead to natural, more relaxed movements and positions. Alexander referred to this connection of the head to the neck and the rest of the body as a primary control.


The manner of doing

How we develop the habits that precede movements. In the case of Alexander and his observations, the manner of doing was neck tensing, throat muscle tightening and short breaths.


Not doing and inhibition

The skill of “not doing” means letting go of the need to fix ourselves so that the body can correct itself. Inhibition refers to learning to stop just before doing. If you, just before you’re about to do something, let go of the thought of doing it, nothing will tense. Alexander came to this realization when he learned that even if he just thought about speaking, his neck tensed. To stop that from happening he reversed the process by inhibition.


Conscious projections

They are the connection between the mind and the body, the instructions you repeat to the body to reprogramme it to move the way you want it. It can be compared to mantras – after some time the instruction will lose its meaning, but the body will still pick it up and act on it. These are just the thoughts, not necessarily the actions you do. For example: “let the neck be free” or, “unclench the jaw”.


End gaining

This refers to the constant need to rush what we’re doing to get to the end goal. Some examples include education and working out – end gain is the qualification, and learning is observed as a means to meet that objective, instead of a process that should be enjoyed. The same goes for workouts. We can be so fixated on the end goal of a stronger body that we don’t pay attention to each movement we do. Alexander argued that when we don’t concern ourselves with end gain as much, we are more relaxed. By taking the time to observe each action in the process, we become more aware and reap the benefits in the end.

Benefits of Alexander Technique

How can the Alexander Technique benefit you?

The Alexander Technique says that conditions such as backache and other forms of chronic pain are often the result of the body moving inefficiently over a long period of time. The Alexander technique is designed to help you ‘unlearn’ your bad habits that have been building up over time, and help you move in a more balanced way. 

People may choose to work with an Alexander therapist when they are looking for support with the following topics:

  • Improve flexibility, posture and mobility
  • Improve coordination
  • Improves stability and balance
  • Increase stamina
  • Manage stress
  • Therapies for supporting pregnancy


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Further Reading / Alexander Technique studies

Back & Neck pain

A study from 2018 examined the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique on 172 participants, who showed a great reduction in chronic neck pain and better daily pain management. The study concluded that the participants learned to be more efficient, confident and provide better self-care for themselves as a result of learning the technique. In addition, a trial of 579 patients found one to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers has long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain. Six lessons followed by exercise prescription were nearly as effective as 24 lessons.


Enhanced performance

Performers such as actors, musicians and dancers can benefit from learning the techniques to bring awareness to the body, reduce stage fright and improve their performance. Generally, it can be useful for anyone to gain more control over their daily movements, whether they perform complex movements or not. A study conducted on surgeons showed the improved posture from Alexander Technique lessons decreased fatigue and improved endurance in laparoscopic surgeons.


Parkinson’s disease

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease reported positive results from applying Alexander Technique alongside normal medical treatment. Benefits include better management of disability and reduced depression, which calls for further research.


Performance Anxiety

Evidence from random control trials suggests Alexander Technique sessions may improve performance anxiety in musicians. Effects on music performance, use and respiratory function remain inconclusive.

Find an Alexander Technique teacher

How to find an Alexander Technique teacher?

At the moment, there are no laws or regulations stating what training someone must have to teach the Alexander Technique. Professional organisations offer 3-year courses and membership upon successful completion of the course.

In the UK, the main organisations for teachers of the Alexander Technique are the:

  • Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CHNC)
  • Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT)
  • Interactive Teaching Method Association (ITM)
  • Professional Association of Alexander Teachers (PAAT)
  • Alexander Technique International (ATI)
What to expect in your first Alexander Technique session

What to expect in your first Alexander Technique session

Practitioners describe the Alexander Technique as an educational method and don’t consider it a form of bodywork as it doesn’t necessarily involve a hands-on approach. However, it aims to bring awareness to deeply ingrained patterns and habits, hands-on approach is still highly recommended for maximum efficacy. It can be compared to language learning, after some practice it becomes natural.

During a session, your teacher may give you some exercises and observe your movements by looking and feeling the muscles. They will explain what they noticed and try to help you become aware of it. Every teacher has different methods, and the lessons can be done individually and in groups. The usual length is around 45 minutes, and the number of lessons depends on your needs and motivation. In the beginning, you may take 2-3 lessons a week, and after some months start practising on your own. The key is practising and observing the patterns on your own.

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.