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Though each person's experience when learning the Alexander technique is different, there are a number of common Alexander technique exercises that may be employed by various instructors. For the most part, Alexander technique focuses on breathing, vocalization, and simple movements that can be adjusted to improve a patient's quality of life or performance in certain activities. The exercises used are developed for each patient individually.
The most common of the Alexander technique exercises begins with a patient lying face up in a relatively neutral position. The legs are often extended, though the knees can be bent in this exercise if extending them causes discomfort. This position allows a person to check in with the body and develop an awareness of the breath. A patient who is practicing Alexander technique at home will often come back to this exercise as a way to reconnect before working on another skill.
Historically, Alexander technique exercises focused extensively on the breath. Though the applications of this technique have extended far beyond its original use as a treatment for asthma, there is still a lot of focus on breathing, as the way a person breathes affects nearly every aspect of that person's life. Early lessons in Alexander technique often focus on retraining a person to breathe in a healthier way, the specifics of which are different for each patient.
Alexander technique exercises also commonly include vocalization. These exercises focus on posture and the way that the breath leaves the body when a patient is speaking. Common vocal exercises can include practicing sustained sounds, projection, and speaking from the diaphragm. Depending on the needs of the patient, the instructor will develop various techniques for the patient to practice both during a session and at home.
Patients are also often observed by their instructors while performing various actions, most of which are common, everyday actions, such as walking, sitting, standing, or transitioning between these. By examining the movements of the patient, the Alexander technique instructor is able to guide the patient toward adjustments that make these common actions more fluid or less painful. In most cases, instructors use their hands both to feel for the movement of the patient's muscles and to guide the patient into the changes that will improve these actions. Alexander technique exercises that help retrain patients to perform each of these actions in a new way are developed and practiced one on one with the instructor.
The Alexander Technique is applied to your everyday activities and doesn't require time spent on special exercises.
As a certified teacher of the technique, I am more interested in helping my students to find ease and freedom in the things they do every day than in giving them one more thing "to do". The exercise referred to above is the constructive rest position, which can be a valuable tool for releasing unnecessary tension.
However, Alexander teachers would strongly encourage you to bend your knees- not to extend them - for a period of rest. If balancing bent knees is a challenge, then you can support your legs with pillows behind the knees.
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