The Alexander Technique was developed over a nine-year period by an Australian actor named Frederick Mathias Alexander (1869-1956). Plagued with chronic hoarseness while performing, and receiving no help from the medical profession, Alexander began observing himself in the mirror and realized that his posture was causing compressions to the back of his neck and his spine. Successfully ridding himself of the affliction, Alexander began teaching others that poor posture and body mechanics prevent the body from functioning properly.
Therapists will teach simple exercises to improve balance, posture, and coordination using gentle hands-on as well as verbal guidance in an effort to change bad habits that are causing discomfort and pain.
Credentialing comes after a three-year (1600 hours) training program at an approved school. The practitioner is then entitled to use the initials indicating NASTAT (North American Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique).
The Feldenkrais Method teaches individuals to become more aware of personal habits of movement and how to improve body motion. Instructors verbally guide only and do not use any hands-on techniques. The Feldenkrais Method is designed to alleviate pain, reduce stress, and enhance self-image. When people have any discomfort, they tend to hold their bodies in altered positions in order to protect the offending area. These positions become habit and often lead to other aggravating symptoms.
The method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), who had a doctorate in physics and was also known as the first European to earn a black belt in judo. After aggravating a pre-existing knee condition, Feldenkrais opted to look for other means of alleviating the condition rather than having surgery. For the next thirty years, he studied and experimented, and refined his techniques to what it is today.
Credentialing comes after successfully completing a 4-year training program to earn the right to use the initials indicating GCFP (Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner). Practitioners are usually those in other healthcare professions that have incorporated this technique into their own practices.
The Trager Approach is a form of movement re-education consisting of a series of gentle, passive movements, along with rotation and traction of limbs so as to relieve muscular tightness without pain. A Chicago physician, Milton Trager, developed the system in the early 1900’s to help polio victims and others with similar afflictions. Those with neuromuscular constrictures have noticeable pain relief in just one session.
Certification is obtained after a six-month program at the Trager Institute in Mill Valley, California (CTP – Certified Trager Practitioner), followed by continuing education courses and membership renewal. Various health care professionals incorporate The Trager Approach into their practices.
T’ai Chi Ch’uan
T’ai chi ch’uan, usually shortened to t’ai chi, is one of a group of noncombative, gentle martial arts that developed in China and Japan. It is a system of physical and mental training that is used for achieving understanding of self, expressed through physical movement and self-defence. T’ai chi is used as part of a quest for improved spiritual and physical health.
The practice is said to date back many centuries when a Taoist monk, Chang San Feng, invented the movements seen today. He saw them in a dream where a strange part-fight, part-dance took place between a snake and a bird. The traditional posture expresses the blending of the eternal and the present, heaven and earth. When Mao Zedong came to power in China in 1949, he proposed that t’ai chi be a universal practice to be carried out each morning. These traditional postures were simplified to twenty-four basic movements, making it easier for the people to adopt.
T’ai chi is said to increase oxygen flow to the blood, relieving pain and inflammation in the body. The most appealing factor is its ability to unite body and mind, to restore balance to the body systems, to boost immunity and energy flow, and to stimulate the removal of toxins from the body. All this is accomplised through peaceful and gentle movements, without imposing any further strain on a body that may be suffering from disease.