Alexander Technique and Posture

Alexander Technique and Posture

Achieve Better Posture with the Alexander Technique

 Who wouldn’t like great posture? After all posture reflects who we are, our mood, our intention, how attractive we are, our energy, our drive. Posture is a powerful statement of our health and wellbeing. So of course you’d like to have great posture. There are many ways that claim to improve a person’s posture.  Most have in common the use of strength, force or effort to bring about positive change.

 “The term “posture” means the position of the body in space. It indicates the position of the body in space and has the purpose of maintaining the body in balance, during the dynamic movements and the stasis. Several factors contribute to the posture, including neurophysiological, biomechanical and psychoemotive factors, linked to the evolution of the species1.

When we consider all the ingredients involved in posture it is a complex interplay of many of the body’s systems working in a synchronous way to provide contextually appropriate balance at any given moment. Simple exortations to stand up straight or to strengthen muscles may not provide a systemic remedy to poor posture.

Alexander Technique provides an approach to improvement that is based on the observation that human functioning is psycho-physical, extremely complex and organised at every level of our being.

Alexander observed a leverage point within the complexity of our human functioning. He called that leverage point the “Primary Control for Coordination of the Human Individual.” He described how use of that leverage point could determine whether the thousands of internal and external events, within our human biology in an activity, would appear unified or conflicted.

For many years, Alexander Technique teachers have been assisting people to find and utilise that primary control for themselves, within a diverse range of activities. It is only one of a number of extraordinary discoveries that Alexander made about human functionality. Alexander Technique teachers intimately know of all the discoveries that Alexander made. We bring them to bear so that you can experience extraordinary organisation in your human biology and learn to apply them for yourself.

 Easy elastic uprightness

Alexander Technique is the only posture improvement method that uses your muscle’s natural tonus to release your inbuilt elastic uprightness. Dancers have it, elite sports people have it, martial artists have it, great actors have it. Easy elastic uprightness is another expression for great posture. It is very likely that you, at one stage of your life, had easy elastic uprightness. Then you went to school.

There is no correct posture.

There is no correct posture. Our posture has to be contextual, adaptive, flexible. There are times where standing up straight will make us look stiff, awkward or out of place. What many people label “bad posture” is actually “fixed posture”. Fixed posture is often uncomfortable, awkward, unattractive. Fixed posture requires a lot of muscle effort. Some people use so much tension that it crushes their spine into a dramatic curve, like the woman in the photo above.

Harmful effects of fixed posture

When your muscles work so much that they crush your posture to the point that you are hunched over, or pushed out or pushed back then it is likely that your wellbeing is being diminished. Those tight muscles constrict easy flow of blood, they hold onto harmful chemicals like lactic acid and they stimulate production of cortisol-the stress hormone. They also restrict breathing, digestion and impair easy balance and uprightness. Poor posture not only looks bad it is bad for us.

Working in front of computers

People often comment that you have to have good posture when working at computers. There is some truth to that statement. Poor posture at a computer can put lots of physical pressure on you. It can introduce twist into your arms and hands. The three main ingredients for Occupational Overuse Injury are constraint, repetition and twist. It’s important to take time to set up your workstation to minimise twisting movements. Have a good office chair that is fully adjustable. Set your screen up high on a riser. Use a mouse pad. Have a look at this government guide for Office Safety for more ideas on setting up your office safely. Officewise

Learn Alexander Technique for easy elastic upright posture.

Elastic upright posture calls for very free, easy muscles. For most of us we have to learn ways to free up our fixed muscles. One of the brilliant learning outcomes of Alexander Technique is that our students can determine if their muscles are fixed or free and then they are able to use new skills to help muscles let go.

Alexander Technique learning is both somatic (hands on-learn through activity) and cognitive (understand the process). This powerful style of learning means that you not only learn from your guided experience with an Alexander Technique teacher but you continue to learn at home, at work and in real life scenarios.

The Alexander approach is unique because it brings a model of balance and uprightness that is not reliant on muscle effort, will power and tight muscles to make you feel easy, upright and great.

Easy posture is your birthright.Posture that looks great and which can be sustained all day long is merely a phone call away.  Give Michael a call on 0448406881 and organise a first lesson. You will begin to recognise an easier and happier you reflected in an elastic upright posture that can be sustained all day in many situations.



1.Carini F, Mazzola M, Fici C, Palmeri S, Messina M, Damiani P, Tomasello G. Posture and posturology, anatomical and physiological profiles: overview and current state of art. Acta Biomed. 2017 Apr 28;88(1):11-16. doi: 10.23750/abm.v88i1.5309. PMID: 28467328; PMCID: PMC6166197.

alexander technique and posture
Alexandedr Technique and good posture

What most think of as good posture is not good posture. It’s effortful and fixed.

elastic uprightness

Why not be easily elastically upright, even sitting in a chair? Rethink your idea of posture and that fixed formula of pain with Alexander Technique.

Chronic Pain-using Alexander Technique to manage pain conditions

Chronic Pain-using Alexander Technique to manage pain conditions

Chronic Pain-using Alexander Technique to manage pain conditions

Alexander Technique for chronic pain

The Alexander Technique is an educational method, not a health-care intervention. Alexander teachers do not diagnose medical conditions, nor do lessons typically target specific medical problems. Lessons teach cognitive and attentional strategies that help cultivate postural skill. As a result, Alexander teachers traditionally conceive of health benefits as a side-effect of effective learning, rather than the goal of instruction. However, one of the most common reasons people study the Alexander Technique is to overcome or cope with chronic pain. This article will firstly talk about the relationship between physical and mental/emotional elements of chronic pain and then give a brief discussion of how the Alexander Technique is applied.


The Neural Basis of Chronic Pain

chronic pain cycle.jpg

Feedback loops between pain, emotions, and cognition
Pain can have a negative effect on emotions and on cognitive function. Conversely, a negative emotional state can lead to increased pain, whereas a positive state can reduce pain. Similarly, cognitive states such as attention and memory can either increase or decrease pain. Of course, emotions and cognition can also reciprocally interact. The minus sign refers to a negative effect and the plus sign refers to a positive effect. 2

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted condition, often characterized by persistent discomfort lasting beyond the expected healing time. While acute pain serves as a protective mechanism, alerting us to potential threats and injuries, chronic pain appears to involve maladaptive neural plasticity. The Alexander Technique offers a promising intervention to improve these maladaptive patterns and enhance pain management.

Pain has several important dimensions: a sensory dimension — where does it hurt and how much does it hurt; an emotional dimension — how unpleasant is the experience; and a cognitive dimension — how do we interpret the pain based on our previous experience, does it cause fear and anxiety, and how do we respond to the threat posed by pain.1

Long-term pain experiences can lead to alterations in the brain’s structure and function. These changes can affect areas responsible for pain perception, emotion regulation, and cognitive processing. Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections, plays a significant role in the development and persistence of chronic pain. This means that treatments just targeting the pain pathways may not be effective.

The Vicious Cycle of Psycho-Physical Chronic Pain

Psycho-physical chronic pain represents a complex interplay between physical symptoms and psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Habitual neuronal programs contribute to the perpetuation of this cycle, reinforcing maladaptive pain behaviors and outcomes. Stress can be related to work factors, relationships, financial stress, health-related stress, etc.

Pain-Related Fear and Avoidance

Habitual neuronal programs can lead to the development of pain-related fear and avoidance behaviors. When an individual experiences pain, the brain may establish associations between certain movements or activities and pain, leading to an avoidance of those actions. This avoidance can exacerbate physical deconditioning, further fueling chronic pain. Avoidance of certain movements that have been identified as pain causing, can lead to rigidity, poor postures and compensatory guarding movements.

Catastrophizing and Amplification

Habitual cognitive patterns, including catastrophizing and amplification of pain signals, can intensify the perception of pain. Catastrophizing involves magnifying the perceived threat of pain and its potential consequences, leading to heightened distress and disability. Amplification, on the other hand, involves a heightened awareness and focus on pain sensations, making them feel more intense than they might be.

The legend of Boot Nail Guy:

A builder aged 29 came to the accident and emergency department having jumped down on to a 15 cm nail. As the smallest movement of the nail was painful, he was sedated with fentanyl and midazolam. The nail was then pulled out from below. When his boot was removed a miraculous cure appeared to have taken place. Despite entering proximal to the steel toecap, the nail had penetrated between the toes: the foot was entirely uninjured. 4

The story, which is now a part of “pain study legend” gives an idea of the key role that our minds and thoughts have in processing pain experiences.

Emotional Regulation and Chronic Pain

The relationship between emotions and pain is bidirectional. (see illustration above.) Habitual emotional responses can influence pain processing, while chronic pain can also impact emotional regulation. Habits of rumination (excessive, repetitive thinking focused on the same, usually negative, idea or theme), emotional suppression, or avoidance can exacerbate pain experiences, creating a self-perpetuating cycle.

Although chronic pain may often have root in physical injury or disease, it appears that there may be many habits, postures, emotions, and ideas that underpin the condition. This gives an indication of why Alexander Technique has been shown to be so effective in working with chronic pain management.

Mind-Body Connection

Central to the Alexander Technique is the recognition of the interconnectedness between the mind and body. By addressing the mind-body connection, the Alexander Technique encourages individuals to challenge habitual, cognitive and neuronal patterns associated with chronic pain. Alexander Technique is characterised by its gentle, non-judgemental exploration of what may be possible in a person’s movement set. Due to the use of “discovery” rather than exercise or imposition of right or wrongs, Alexander students learn to uncover safe movement and posture outside of the normal habitual set. With the help of a trained teacher, the Alexander student begins to explore those movements and postures that provide a different physical and psychological description of body awareness. This often leads to a reduction of pain days that can become a significant proof that even chronic pain can be abated and overcome.

Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

Another  foundation element of the Alexander Technique is the practice of mindful attention– the practice of being fully present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Through mindfulness, individuals can identify maladaptive cognitive patterns, such as catastrophizing or negative self-talk, that may exacerbate chronic pain.

By cultivating self-reflection, Alexander Technique students become aware of how their thoughts and emotions influence physical tension and pain. Alexander students are taught to recognise and interrupt maladaptive patterns of thought, emotion and movement. This can open the door to new, more constructive responses to pain.


A number of studies looking at the efficacy of Alexander Technique have shown it to be a promising approach for pain sufferers. For instance:

The Effectiveness of Alexander Technique and Massage Therapy on Chronic Non-Specific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial (2015) Published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, investigated the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique and massage therapy in managing chronic non-specific low back pain. The results showed that both interventions led to significant reductions in pain and improved functioning compared to usual care.

A Comparison of the Effects of 6 Weeks Alexander Technique Training and Aerobic Exercise on Functioning in Adults With Chronic, Non-Specific Musculoskeletal Pain (2007) This study, published in Clinical Rehabilitation, compared the effects of six weeks of Alexander Technique training and aerobic exercise in adults with chronic, non-specific musculoskeletal pain. Both interventions were found to be effective in improving functioning and reducing pain, suggesting that the Alexander Technique can be a valuable alternative to exercise-based interventions for chronic pain management.

The Long-Term Effects of Alexander Technique Lessons in the Treatment of Chronic Back Pain (2005) Published in the British Journal of Medicine, this study examined the long-term effects of Alexander Technique lessons on chronic back pain. The researchers found that individuals who received Alexander Technique lessons reported sustained improvements in pain, disability, and quality of life even one year after the intervention.

A complete list of research can be found here 5



1. Crofford LJ. Chronic Pain: Where the Body Meets the Brain. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2015;126:167-83. PMID: 26330672; PMCID: PMC4530716.

2. Taken from Bushnell MC, Ceko M, Low LA. Cognitive and emotional control of pain and its disruption in chronic pain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 Jul;14(7):502-11. doi: 10.1038/nrn3516. Epub 2013 May 30. PMID: 23719569; PMCID: PMC4465351.


4.A Tale of Two Nails | Psychology Today Australia

5.Alexander Technique Science website

6. Emilio J. Puentedura & Timothy Flynn (2016) Combining manual therapy with pain neuroscience education in the treatment of chronic low back pain: A narrative review of the literature, Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 32:5, 408-414, DOI: 10.1080/09593985.2016.1194663

More Alexander Technique articles

Alexander Technique and breathing

Alexander Technique and breathing

Alexander Technique and breathing

The Alexander Technique presents a holistic approach for improving posture, movement, and overall well-being. Developed by F.M. Alexander in the late 19th century, Alexander Technique focuses on re-educating the mind and body to optimize movement and coordination. One fundamental aspect of the Alexander Technique is the relationship of breathing to the whole person and their functioning.

Breathing plays a vital role in physical and emotional well-being. It is an automatic process, yet it can be influenced by habits, tensions, and postural imbalances.

Breath and optimal functioning

The Alexander Technique recognises the significance of efficient breathing for optimal functioning of the body and mind. By becoming aware of our breathing patterns, we can make conscious adjustments to enhance our overall health and performance.

In the Alexander Technique, breathing is not seen as a separate action but rather as an integral part of whole-body coordination. It emphasises the importance of a balanced and unrestricted expansion of the ribcage during inhalation and a gentle release during exhalation. By allowing the breath to flow freely, you can alleviate unnecessary tension and improve your overall posture and movement.

Alexander Technique and Breathing

Through Alexander Technique practices, individuals learn to release habitual patterns of tension that restrict the breath. They become aware of the connection between their thoughts, emotions, and breathing patterns. By letting go of unnecessary muscular effort and allowing easy breathing, you can achieve a state of calmness and increased body awareness.

The Alexander Technique offers specific guidance to help individuals develop a more natural and efficient way of breathing. This may involve lying down, sitting, or standing in various positions to explore the coordination of the breath with the whole body.

By incorporating the Alexander Technique into daily life, you can experience benefits such as improved respiratory function, reduced stress, and anxiety, enhanced vocal expression, and increased overall vitality. The technique serves as a valuable tool for anyone seeking to cultivate a healthier relationship with their breath and enhance their physical and mental well-being.

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By becoming consciously aware of the position of the lungs, the actions of the ribs and the diaphragm, the Alexander Technique student can begin to discriminate where undue tension is interfering with their breath.

Rather than using breathing exercises, which can add to tension and confusion around breathing, the Alexander student learns to inhibit neural tension patterns. As inappropriately tensed muscles let go around the rib cage, chest, upper back and diaphragm, breathing can change to an easy pattern of greater volume and movement, without effort.

Alexander is holistic. This means that the student will consider the relationship of the breath to freedom in the legs, arms, abdomen, neck and to postural tonus.

Mistaken conceptions of where the lungs are, what the movement of the breath should be, deep breathing, diaphragmic breathing, rib swing breathing all lead people into held and rigid thoracic relationships.

Alexander teaching allows the student to discover these errors for themselves, and in so doing, they accrue a confident knowledge of their breathing ability, scope and volume.

This confidence is attractive and useful to musicians, singers, actors and people with breathing health issues.

Did you find this content useful? Come to one of our workshops, introductory sessions, or individual instruction. Click on the button below.

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Yoga and semi-supine

Yoga and semi-supine

Yoga and semi-supine

In yoga it’s called “savasana”.  In Alexander Technique it’s called “semi-supine” or “constructive rest”. There are many similarities between the savasana pose in yoga and semi-supine.

Savasana has the outward appearance of something easy and yet it is described by some as one of the most difficult poses to master. At the heart of the matter is the meditative state required to completely let go of physical tension and the mental tension that accompanies it, while still remaining present and aware in the moment.

Proponents of the Alexander Technique use a version of this pose to cultivate a neutral state of balance and poise, enjoying a presence in the moment that flows into movement as well.

Semi supine

We call it ‘Active Rest’ or ‘semi supine, a daily practice of awareness and self-care, which is particularly beneficial for sufferers of back pain.

The semi-supine position maximises sensory feedback through full contact of the head and torso with a firm, flat surface. This feedback helps to build up kinaesthetic awareness of the width, length and depth of the spine as the core structure that is so vital to balance in movement.

You may be familiar with a popular, but often misunderstood, idea that we are about an inch shorter in height in the evening than in the morning. This has some basis in a specific physiological process at work in the spine and which semi-supine can counter to our benefit. The intervertebral discs are a remarkable part of the larger strong and beautifully integrated structure of the spine and have a unique ability to absorb and hold fluid – up to forty times their own volume! During four or five hours of being upright, however, this shock absorbency system is gradually compromised as fluid is pressed out of the discs, resulting in less cushioning between the vertebrae.

Spending fifteen to twenty minutes in semi-supine allows the load to come off the whole spine and gives the discs the time they need to fully rehydrate. This means our spine gains a slight increase in overall length, letting us enjoy our full height and our buoyancy in movement at any time of the day.


In both yoga and semi-supine the benefits of a lengthening spine go further. A spine without undue compression is also our pathway into the healthy operation of our Automatic Postural Patterns or APPs. APPs refer to involuntary muscular activity that facilitates voluntary movement. APP’s help to reorganise soft tissue surrounding our bones so that the muscular work of both supporting and moving parts is distributed evenly and appropriately throughout our whole body. Whenever a movement is sensed as light, easy, effortless – that’s when your Automatic Postural Patterns are at play. The desire to trigger the APPs by lengthening the spine in Active Rest explains some of the recommendations for the practice. 


Firstly, the addition of a head rest of some kind is used to foster an easy relationship of the head with the torso, gently allowing for the natural curve of the cervical spine and avoiding over-straightening the neck. The balancing of the head in relationship to the spine is crucial to ensuring that neck muscles are free to release from attachments on the skull itself right through to their attachments to the collar bones and other parts of the arm structure and ribs. The plumping up of the intervertebral discs, as described above, spaces out the articulations of the ribs with the vertebrae opening the way for full rib excursion, deepening the experience of the breath. The arms themselves are positioned palms down on the abdomen, elbows releasing gently out to the sides. This facilitates an expansion through the upper torso and shoulder girdle from side to side and from front to back. It makes any pulling back of the shoulders (and as a consequence, narrowing of the back) less likely. Resting the palms on the abdomen and the contact of our back with the floor also draws our awareness to the movement of the breath.

In semi-supine we ‘listen’ with our feet on the floor, enjoying a dynamic balance between hips, knees and ankles. The soles of our feet, with their large number of sensory nerve endings, play an important role in the operation of APPs. They sense the detail of the surface we are in contact with, as well as telling us about the relationship of our leg joints. This information is then sent to our central nervous system where it becomes integrated with signals coming from the rest of our body and guides the body’s determination of easy balance throughout our system. Remembering to include our ‘listening’ feet is an essential part of achieving healthy functional motor patterns.


Semi-supine offers the benefits of ease and improved alignment before or after yoga asana practice and can be used independently as a regular meditation to promote integrated movement and functioning. The combination of both physical and mental rebalancing offered by this pose can enhance the moment-to-moment quality of our everyday movement and our life. There are some differences in approach between savasana in yoga and the semi-supine, but the wisdom is that there are benefits to be had from doing one or both.

Alexander Technique for back pain relief

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