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4. Towards improved body control

This is the fourth text in the blog series Towards Effortlessness, the introduction to which you can find here. In this series, I report on the results of a customer survey I conducted in 2021. In this week's blog, I will address, from a few perspectives generated by the data, the questions 1. "What did you seek help with from the Alexander Technique?", and 2. "Did you get the help you sought? If yes/no, please tell us a few words about it."

94 people responded to the survey. Of these, 60 came for private lessons/ workshops to learn something collectively referred to here as body control.

Of those who responded, 25 sought help with a sporting activity. Five of these didn’t elaborate what this means and another five wanted to learn how to train and exercise so that their bodies would no longer ache (2) or so that they would not exert more effort than necessary (3). 15 respondents came to seek tools for easier riding. I discussed the riders' responses in my previous blog.

Ten respondents sought help with general body use. This was expressed as a desire to learn to be and move more lightly or freely in life or "in a way that is beneficial to general well-being". Three people wanted to learn to play an instrument more easily. One wanted help to use their voice when speaking and one was looking for help to use their voice when singing.

Free and easy movement. Image: Juha Sihto

All respondents had received the support they were looking for in physical activity and general body use or moving in everyday life. The body or parts of the body ceased to ache during performance. According to the respondents, this was because the technique helps them to identify unfavorable habits and teaches them ways to weaken these habits. Very often the unfavorable habits manifest themselves as excessive tension or "over-doing". However, clients also point out that learning and applying the technique opens a view of how the body and mind are - contrary to what they previously thought - an integrated whole, where changing one piece affects all the others, and a habit is therefore about more than just the physical act of doing something. Using the Alexander Technique was seen to increase self-awareness and presence, bring choice and variety to life situations, and improve mood. "Feeling freer and lighter"; "Everything has become much more pleasant". Five respondents also mentioned the experience of something natural coming into play in the body and mind while applying the technique.

The Alexander Technique helped with playing an instrument, but one respondent said that they also used other techniques and exercises. Another person who sought tools for this said that they had been able to use the technique to rehabilitate themselves from a situation where just picking up the instrument made them feel painful. The technique helped with vocal use and, as an added bonus, with performance anxiety. Responses describe "relaxing the face and the neck, which immediately eases the whole self". Both speaking and singing voice have deepened and eased with the change in the general use of the body and the mind. As a by-product, other musculoskeletal problems have eased. The technique also helped with "being lighter" by providing tools to release the body from constant tension and over-exertion. Some of the respondents were teachers in different disciplines: e.g. music, dance and horse riding. They said that they had been inspired by the technique and had found tools for their own teaching. One expression was "a more accepting and tolerant pedagogy".

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