The positive effects of Alexander Technique cover such a range that the uninitiated might reasonably suspect it is being oversold.
But the question "What is it good for?" implies that the human body and mind and their activities are made of discrete parts which have little bearing on each other.
The reality is that what we think, feel and do are so interlinked that separating them can only be done in theory. In practice, changing one aspect effects the others.
What is much easier to tease out is what brings people to Alexander Technique, because the primary motivation is usually either to find relief from discomfort, to improve performance or to experience something novel.
Pain is our greatest, but least welcome, motivator. Any relief, even if temporary, is greatly appreciated. However, a lasting solution must deal with causes rather than just the symptoms.
While it can be difficult for us to admit it, the cause of our discomfort is often what we habitually and unknowingly do to ourselves; how we choose to sit and move and react. Alexander Technique lessons are opportunities to relearn how even the most basic of activities can be undertaken in a way that better suits the mind and body.
In 2002 the British Medical Journal published research proving the long-term effectiveness of the Technique as a treatment for back pain.
We have an awareness of how even abilities that are frequently used can become less skilful with time. We might not acknowledge that in our own driving, but we can certainly see it in other road users! We develop habits. We get 'sloppy'. We react without really being aware of what we are doing.
Our most fundamental vehicles and tools are our bodies and minds. If we use them without consideration for long enough we also lose an awareness of the detail of what is happening.
Alexander Technique lessons help with that reintegration to make our actions and reactions more skilful; to bring them closer to what is required in the moment.
Our experience of the world is mediated by our bodies. When our bodies enter a new state, for example when their levels of habitual tension are reduced, we feel quite different. We are culturally used to the idea of this happening through the addition of something, whether that be an exercise or entertainment or 'drug'. But Alexander Technique shows how this state is inherent within us. It can be achieved simply by doing less. For many, this is reason enough for taking part in lessons.