Learn about an educational program for improved, pain-free flexibility and movement.
Jane Kosminsky explains the Alexander Technique
What is the Alexander Technique?
AT is a thinking process that teaches you how to change the way you look, feel, move, and breathe. It starts when your teacher, using gentle hand contact and verbal instruction, shows you how to stop using bad physical habits that result in unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during everyday activities. Goals include releasing tension, decompressing the spine, attaining more balanced muscle activity, and improving over-all flexibility.
AT and the performing arts
The Technique was invented by Frederick M. Alexander, an actor in the 1890s, as a personal tool to alleviate the breathing problems, hoarseness and loss of voice he experienced during public speaking. Today, actors, singers, dancers, and musicians use the Technique to improve breathing, vocal production, and speed and accuracy of movement.
Meet Jane Kosminsky, AT teacher since 1986
What drew you to the Alexander Technique?
I had been hired to teach dance in the Drama Division of The Juilliard School. I noticed that the actors moved with an ease and alignment many professional dancers would envy. When I asked why, they told me: "The Alexander Technique." At the end of that year, I had my first lesson with their AT teacher, the incomparable Judith Leibowitz. At the end of that lesson, I knew I would study and train in the Alexander Technique. I was an injured dancer. The Technique added over a decade to my dancing life.
What made you decide to teach AT to others?
I experienced what the Alexander Technique could do, firsthand. I wanted to pass it on to other performers, other people.
Can a disabled person benefit from AT?
It really depends on the individual and what is wrong—injury or illness. A person with a broken leg may benefit. A person with a broken spine will not. People with Parkinson's Disease or Multiple Sclerosis may be helped. It depends on how well the brain is still functioning. It's important to remember that the Alexander Technique is neither therapy nor a cure. It is a process for changing habits and a profound adventure in the exploration of self.
Can a person start practicing AT at any age?
Adults of any age can start. But very young children don't need it. They have not yet developed the bad postural habits that send most of us to the Technique.
Can you practice AT by yourself or do you need a classroom environment?
You absolutely can practice the Alexander Technique by yourself; in fact once you learn the process, that is exactly what you are supposed to do.
If you are already going to an exercise class, do you still need AT?
Yes, you do. The Alexander Technique is not exercise. It is a mind/body process for the examination and changing of postural habits. If you use it while you exercise, you will get more out of your exercise.
What specific benefits does AT offer to women over 55?
The body often changes during menopause. We may begin to collapse and shrink; we may become more unstable on our feet and move in stiff and awkward ways. The Alexander Technique can help us move more easily with grace and confidence.