“For the Alexander Technique doesn’t teach you something new to do. It teaches you how to bring more practical intelligence into what you are already doing; how to eliminate stereotyped responses; how to deal with habit and change. It leaves you free to choose your own goal but gives you a better use of yourself while you work toward it.”
– Frank Pierce Jones
Learning to become an actor is an on-going process. If you are inspired to act, it is essential to become intimately familiar with your body. When I teach The Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing to actors, I help them develop the subtle kinesthetic sense which is so necessary for becoming more effective on stage or in front of the camera. Benefits include improved coordination, effortless movement and greater knowledge of the breath and voice.
Faulty movement patterns involving bound energy and tension often interfere with the actor’s ability to be spontaneous and present. Once these habits are identified and replaced with newly learned patterns, actors can better tolerate the demands of rehearsal and the ability to sustain performance. As actors eliminate the habits of holding and controlling their breath, they often report a deep release of tension and fear. They are then free to make choices about the physical and emotional life of their characters.
The Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing help the actor restore mobility to overworked muscles, develop physical freedom, gain access to the breath and reveal pathways to emotional release.
The body is the primary instrument for every instrumentalist. Breathing profoundly influences the functioning of body and mind, and music and breath have always been intertwined. Thus, The Art of Breathing can benefit string players, pianists and percussionists as well as players of wind instruments.
A musician’s choices are frequently constricted by tension and bound energy. Unconscious muscular habits cause the body to tighten and restrict the movement of the breath, which can be the underlying cause of many pain problems and loss of musicality. Without self-awareness, long hours of practice and rehearsal can lead to discomfort and muscular tension, resulting in a constricted sound. The physical and mental symptoms of stage fright before auditions and performances can destroy a musician’s career.
All of these problems can be addressed by the Alexander Technique, and The Art of Breathing, which help musicians develop skills to minimize unnecessary tension and to restore energy, helping them in daily life as well as in performance.
The human voice is dependent on the breath. How the breath moves in the singer’s body will limit or enhance the voice. Without realizing it, many singers will mire their talent and artistic intention in faulty body mechanics which accounts for many of the tensions they experience and can be the cause of many voice disorders. And often a singer’s attempt to manage breath can be counter productive and directly interfere with the involuntary nature of breathing (and their intuitive sense of rhythm and timing).
The Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing offer skills for singers to use to perform freely, efficiently and beautifully.
To gain strength, improve alignment and work without injury, dancers must learn to function freely but with power. Bound energy and excess effort lead to inflexibility and limit the dancer’s ability to express the emotions that move an audience. Breath is the special fuel that can move them.
With the Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing, dancers learn to organize their movement and use the breath to achieve better technique and greater expression in performance.
Athletes know that to sustain the demands of performance and achieve success, they must train not just their bodies but their minds as well. The Alexander Technique offers a unique way to harness the mind to affect the body and strengthen the mind-body connection. It also helps prevent common complaints such as knee and shoulder pain and backache.
Efficient breathing is also critical to athletic success. Improved breathing patterns lead to faster recovery times, and can calm nerves and increase stamina and strength.
Whatever your favorite athletic activity, the Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing can help you improve your performance while avoiding injury.
People who suffer from arthritis, migraines, tension headaches, sciatica, backache, neck pain and scoliosis often don’t realize that their movement patterns may be aggravating their conditions. People in pain often react by restricting their movements and introducing additional muscular tension and faulty movement patterns, further reinforcing these bad habits.
Even when they recognize the role of habit in their condition, patients often find that being told what habits to change, without being given a way to change them, is futile. Physical therapy is often prescribed, but may not provide lasting benefits if exercises and stretching are done without an understanding of how the body and mind work as a whole.
The Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing can facilitate healing by providing the patient with the means to change bad habits for good. Learning how to use the mind and body to overcome and prevent pain gives a much-needed sense of control, lifting the patient’s mood while increasing mobility.
People in High Stress Jobs
Long hours of work require great energy and present significant risks of injury. This is especially true of today’s sedentary jobs that chain us to our computers. Contrary to what our ancestors doing manual labor may have thought, sitting all day is extremely hard on the body and mind. A great deal of money has been spent on ergonomic chairs and workstations, but no piece of furniture can prevent the damage that is done to a body that is habitually misused for many hours a day.
One reason that people experience fatigue, lack of concentration and irritability on the job is that they hold their breath without realizing it. The lack of fully oxygenated blood stresses the nervous system. This habit also introduces additional muscle tension into bodies already immobilized by mental and physical stress.
When you learn to use your body and mind more efficiently, you can meet the demands of the job more effectively over longer periods, with less damage to your mind and body. The Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing can help you manage stress, heal from and avoid problems that arise from long hours of sedentary work (such as carpal tunnel syndrome, backache and headache), and work with greater energy and concentration.
The Alexander Technique and The Art of Breathing are very effective for people who suffer from recurring bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
Fourteen million Americans have asthma, a condition in which the small bronchial airways temporarily constrict and make it difficult to breathe, causing breathlessness and wheezing. Asthma is triggered by a variety of allergens, among them dust, mold and animal hair, cold air, colds and other infections, and psychological stress.
The key to recovering from respiratory disease is found in the exhalation rather than the inhalation. Although this may seem counterintuitive, the fact is that we cannot breathe in until we have fully exhaled the stale air in our lungs. Therefore, the pattern of gasping for air experienced by those in respiratory distress actually prevents easy, efficient breathing. As so often happens, a person in physical distress unconsciously reacts in a way that actually aggravates that distress.
The Art of Breathing and the Alexander Technique offer a way to eliminate bad habits that interfere with good respiration, providing relief to those suffering from respiratory disease.