“You let the tiredness out!” – Fatigue and Alexander Technique


Last week I wrote about why it is that working with the Alexander Technique can have a dramatic improvement upon your energy levels. But what about when it doesn’t? What if you experience a short-term fatigue?

The quote in the title is from my husband. When he has Alexander lessons, it is a common experience for him to feel all the usual beneficial stuff – lighter, freer, less muscular discomfort – but also one less welcome sensation. Tiredness.

Similarly, I have had students who experience a tiredness reaction to a lesson so extreme that they could barely keep awake!

So what happened to my husband and my students? Why did they feel so tired? What follows is my best guess on the subject.


Habits of body, habits of thought.

In his first book Man’s Supreme Inheritance, FM Alexander is very clear that there is a relationship between movement and thought. He writes: “the majority of people fall into a mechanical habit of thought quite as easily as they fall into the mechanical habit of body which is the immediate consequence.”

So – what we do with our bodies is the consequence of beliefs we have or decisions we make. If this is so – and I believe that it is – then we could create a story of a hypothetical student.


I can well imagine that, if our hypothetical student has had a particularly tiring or stressful time, they may well make the decision that, for whatever reason, they are not able to allow themselves to rest. They decide to keep going. And in order to keep going and keep concentrating on their work, they turn on muscles (FM writes about this in Man’s Supreme Inheritance too).

And then they keep them turned on. And on. And on.

They forget, in fact, to turn them off.

So now, in addition to the original fatigue, our hypothetical student is expending energy on the needless use of muscles.

When, therefore, they come for their Alexander Technique lesson, and the teacher convinces them to give up the excess muscular energy that they were using to counteract the fatigue, our student is going to feel the full force of the tiredness that they were originally fighting. In the short term, they will probably feel terrible. But if they allow themselves to rest, in the long term they will feel better because they will have stopped the unnecessary muscular activity that was not just masking but adding to the fatigue.

My question to you is: does this ring true for you? Do you think you might be masking your fatigue with extra activity? If so, can I urge you to stop, allow yourself to feel tired, and rest? It might not be great in the short term, but in the long run you’ll be so much more effective!

Let me know what you think!

Image by Ambro from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Can the Alexander Technique Improve my Energy Levels?


The question of energy levels is an important one to many of my students. Perhaps it is important to you, too. Life seems to be so busy, and there always seems to be more that needs to be done. Some of my students have had the experience of struggling to maintain energy levels through a busy day. And what makes it all the more galling is that colleagues or friends may have similarly stressful, action-packed days, and yet apparently breeze through them unscathed.

How can this be? Are those of us who struggle with energy lacking stamina? Short of tearing up our To do lists, is there a way of improving our energy levels? Can the Alexander Technique help us to have more energy and vitality?


Why the answer is yes…

It is a common experience of Alexander technique students to feel more ‘alive’ after a lesson. They often report feeling more awake, more alert, lighter, and somehow more able to concentrate on tasks. So why does this happen?

The secret lies in the stuff we do to ourselves – unnecessary muscular activity.

FM Alexander noticed in himself, and subsequently in others, that it was something that he was doing in the way he went about activities that was causing his problems – the problems that led him to create the work we call the Alexander Technique. He noticed defects in the way he was using himself.

And in his first book, Alexander noted that when defects in the poise of the body are present, “the condition thus evidenced is the result of an undue rigidity of parts of the muscular mechanisms … Which are forced to perform duties other than those intended by nature.” In other words, if we are experiencing problems, it is likely that some of our muscles are working far too hard, and probably in ways that they are not designed to do.

So it makes sense that if we are using more muscular activity than we need, and using the wrong muscles anyway, that we would start to feel fatigued.

This is why feeling an increase in energy is a common experience in Alexander Technique lessons. Students not only decrease the work done by their muscles, but they work out for themselves (with the teacher’s assistance) the most effective way of carrying out the activity they are working on. They work out which muscles they need to use, and then experience using just those muscles, doing just the right amount of work.


2 things you can do to improve your energy levels.

Here are two simple things you can do to help yourself improve your energy levels.

1. A bit of brainpower. Have a think about the activity that is causing you fatigue. What is involved in the activity? What is the least number of muscles and joints you need to use to carry out the activity?

2. The 50%  less game. Pick an activity, and try using half as much energy as normal. For example, can you use half as much energy to type on your computer? Hold a pen? Click a mouse? This is a great game to play. My students usually discover that they don’t need to use nearly as much energy for most activities. Just pick the activity wisely- holding a kitchen knife or a steering wheel might require a little caution!


Are you willing to give these ideas a go? Tell me about it in the comments!

Image by Richard Styles, stock.xchng