Mindful Alexander Technique (MAT)

Alexander Becca Ferguson, Alexander Technique teacherTechnique teacher Rebecca Ferguson Keays developed
Mindful Alexander Technique (MAT), a unique fusion of mindful and other evidence-based wellness and performance improvement methods.

AT practices for releasing excess muscle tension, and improving posture, body mechanics and breathing are used worldwide by Integrative Medicine and Behavioral Health providers and physicians, including the  Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins.

 

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has an AT teacher on staff teaching in the
and in diverse departments, including Neurology, Women’s Health, and the
Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center.

Renowned for over 100 years for performance improvement, poise and presence in the performing arts, the AT is taught world-wide in drama, music and dance departments at colleges and universities such as Yale School of Drama, and at schools such as Juilliard and London’s Royal Academy of Music.

Contemporary performing artists who practice the AT include: Hugh Jackman; Lupita Nyong’o; Cate Blanchett; Paul McCartney; Sting, and Madonna.

Earlier celebrities who practiced the AT include: Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Marlon Brando.

The AT is used by corporations such as IBM and JP Morgan Chase for improved presentation, speaking and performance.

MAT utilizes core AT practices, with extra focus on the mindful awareness of mind and body that is central to the Alexander Technique.

Mindfulness practices are used world-wide by Integrative Medicine and Behavioral Health providers for issues such as: stress management, pain, and treatment of addiction and co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness practices are also effective for addressing underlying trauma disorders and PTSD that often co-occur with substance abuse, and are frequently masked by drug and alcohol use.

Both the AT and MAT are taught in lessons, classes and workshops by certified Alexander Technique (AT) instructor Rebecca Ferguson, for a diverse range of specific applications.  These applications are described in the following sections, and on the Lessons/Classes page of this website.

The AT and MAT require no skill or prior experience, and are accessible for all ages and abilities.

MAT was designed specifically to offer AT-based practices to clients who typically might not have access to AT lessons and classes, including cancer survivors, or persons in treatment for drugs and alcohol, and co-occurring disorders.

Clients often quickly experience benefits when using MAT practices, including: relaxation; mood elevation; calming and increased sense of self-awareness and engagement. Clients are provided with easy, self-directed practices they can immediately use on their own.

MAT provides easy, in-the-body mindful movement practices for:

  • Lowering stress hormone levels and stress reactivity in our body by learning to recognize/release patterns of excessive muscle tension.
  • Learning to keep muscles more relaxed and “expanded” in our posture and daily movement.
  • Developing mindful awareness, ease in movement and less pain and fatigue by improving posture, body mechanics, and breathing.
  • Changing habits and behavior by pausing/stopping our habitual responses and movements, and choosing to re-direct into new actions.
  • Improving bone health, balance, and “Gravity Health” with easy, weight-bearing, whole body movement practices that help restore the “Paleo Poise” that human bodies were originally designed for.

 

MAT is a fusion of the Alexander Technique and other evidence-based mind/body practices, and research, including:

  • Power Poses research and wellness methods of Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy.
  • Gravity Health research of former NASA Life Sciences Director Dr Joan Vernikos.
     

Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy’s Power Poses research indicates:

  • Tensed muscles in Contracted postures and movements rapidly raise levels of the stress hormone Cortisol and lower Testosterone, which impacts performance.
  • Higher Cortisol levels affect performance, and increase anxiety and stress reactivity.
  • Expanded postures and movements with more relaxed muscles rapidly raise Testosterone levels, and lower Cortisol.
  • Higher Testosterone levels help us feel more confident and perform better, and reduce stress responses.

Read more about Cuddy’s work in this summary of research about stress hormone activity in humans and this New York Times article.

MAT is the Alexander Technique’s weight-bearing movement practices that incorporate the work of Gravity expert Dr. Joan Vernikos, former Director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division.

  • Dr Vernikos was one of the first NASA scientists to study the health effects on astronauts, including John Glenn, after being in “zero gravity” environments on outer space missions for extended amounts of time.
  • Dr Vernikos’ years of research shows that better “Gravity Health” helps our whole body, from our bones, to balance and brain function.
  • Bone loss and impaired bone health is an often overlooked global health issue, particularly with chronic drug and alcohol use.

 

Note: Mindful Alexander Technique (MAT) practices, Alexander Technique, Power Poses and the “Gravity Health” work of Dr Joan Vernikos are wellness practices,not medicine or treatment.