The Alexander Technique: One Students Story
by Mary Albro
The following is a short story of how I came to the Alexander Technique and how it has benefited me. It begins with a diagnosis for chronic pain, and explains how treatment led me to embrace the Alexander Technique.
At age 27, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder characterized by muscle pain and fatigue. My treatment began with Biofeedback therapy. This therapy uses electrode sensors placed on the body to monitor muscle activity. This information is sent to a computer where a visual picture is displayed, providing the patient with feedback. The goal is to learn to locate and minimize unnecessary muscle tension.
Biofeedback taught me three things. I learned from the electrodes that a simple thought, such as thinking about raising a finger, created muscle activity. I learned from the therapist that the neck muscles store a lot of tension. And I learned from the total experience that it was the smallest muscle movements that needed the most scrutiny, for example, closing your hand without tensing other muscles. It was this experience that would prepare me to recognize the significance of the Alexander Technique. Biofeedback taught me how my body should work, but the Alexander Technique revealed how it could be accomplished.
I first heard of the Alexander Technique almost 10 years ago, but it was a more recent exposure that invited me to find out what it was. One of my colleagues was saying that she took care of a lady during the last years of her life that was famous for her contributions to the Alexander Technique. This lady was Marjorie Barstow! After this, I came across a book at the library about the Technique and opened it out of curiosity. After reading two books, I knew this was the defining principle of human movement.
I took private lessons for almost a year. I have continued my experiences by attending the Barstow/Alexander Technique Summer Institutes. I used to think that the Technique was something to learn, but it is something that you experience. When I took my first lessons, I wanted immediate results, but my teacher taught me the enjoyment of being patient.
The chronic pain and fatigue of my Fibromyalgia have greatly diminished. As I move with a better direction of internal forces, my muscles are returning to a normal consistency and length. As my muscles lengthen, I notice changes in the position of my bones. Although I still recognize my image in the mirror, I do not recognize my shadow.
The technique has become a skill that now helps me with new situations. Recently, I received Physical Therapy for a repetitive motion injury to the upper tendon of my right arm biceps. The therapist was amazed with my immediate recovery, and attributed it to my work with the Alexander Technique.
I realize that the quality of life I have today is because of the realization of one person, F.M. Alexander. I owe much of my recovery to a man and his mirror.
Mary Albro is an analytical chemist for a company that makes pharmaceutical products for livestock and companion animals. She has used the Alexander Technique to minimize the symptoms of a chronic muscle disorder and to resolve ergonomic issues. She uses Yoga as a way to observe the Alexander Principle in her movements.
"Yoga, Posture and the Alexander Technqiue" by Mary Albro
The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique