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Oct 08

Migraine; how the Alexander Technique can help

As an Alexander Technique teacher, I recently attended a talk  in Cork given by the MIGRAINE ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND. You can access their website http://www.migraine.ie for details of upcoming talks around the country. I was there (along with other complementary therapists) answering questions and giving out information on how the Alexander Technique can help those suffering with migraine, especially where stress or poor posture is a trigger. The Alexander Technique is one of the complementary therapies recommended by the MIGRAINE ASSOCIATION on their website.

To find out how you can learn how to be more relaxed and cope with the stress caused by postural issues click here.

As requested here is an excerpt from an article printed in ‘Migraine News No. 63 Spring 1993’ on how the Alexander Technique can help migraine sufferers.

‘THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE has been said to help many migraine sufferers whose attacks are thought to be triggered by bad posture.

Why do people have lessons? People have Alexander lessons for a variety of reasons, since the Technique is a powerful tool that can be applied to all aspects of daily life, as well as to special skills. Some, such as actors, musicians or any kind of performing artist come in search of greater freedom and poise in their chosen profession. Others come with physical ailments, neuromuscular or joint problems, bad backs, breathing difficulties or tension problems. An increasingly large number of people come simply because having Alexander lessons makes them feel better and able to find greater ease within themselves and their dealings with the outside world.

What is it? The Alexander Technique is a way of becoming more aware of balance, posture and movement in everyday activities. This can bring into consciousness tensions previously unnoticed, and helps us differentiate between necessary and unnecessary (appropriate and inappropriate) tensions and efforts.

The Technique is popularly supposed to be concerned with posture and relaxation, but, of course posture is far more complex than just standing or sitting up straight. It could be described as how we support and balance our bodies against the ever present pull of gravity while we go about our daily activities. From Alexander’s own observations, since confirmed by scientific research, it has become apparent that there are natural postural reflexes to organise this support and balance for us without any great effort, provided we have the necessary degree of relaxation-in-activity to allow these reflexes to work freely.

The mechanisms of support and balance (for which poise is a useful term) can be seen working beautifully in most small children, but they are very delicate mechanisms and  are easily interfered with. The emotional and physical strains accumulated through life can soon become fixed into the body in the form of chronic muscle tensions and patterns of distortion throughout the physical structure. These patterns in turn restrict the workings of the natural postural mechanisms. Common language expressions such as “things are getting me down” or “I’m all tensed up”, suggest a feeling for how our relationship with gravity is disturbed.

What happens in a lesson? The role of the Alexander teacher is to use gentle guidance with the hands to help unravel distortions and encourage the natural reflexes to work again. In this way the necessary degree of muscle tone(tension) required to support the body against the downward pull of gravity, and the necessary degree of relaxation to allow unrestricted movement, breathing, circulation and digestion.

Along with manual guidance, the Alexander teacher also uses verbal instruction to help students become conscious of their own patterns of interference, and teaches then to project simple message from the brain to the body that will help the natural mechanisms of poise to function more freely. It is for this reason that we call our work re-education and describe ourselves as teachers.

As the student learns to allow natural poise and balance to re-emerge, he or she will usually notice the change as one of lightness, ease and greater freedom of movement. Removing habitual tension patterns that interfere with free poise and balance is a procedure which the student can, after a time, undertake in daily life for him/herself.

 

 

 

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