Handy reminders for my students

The principles of the Alexander Technique

Taken all together, these five ideas constitute the Alexander Technique:

  1. Recognition of the Force of Habit
  2. Inhibition / Non-Doing (of the habitual response to a stimulus)
  3. Recognition of Faulty Sensory Awareness (a.k.a. debauched kinesthesia)
  4. Sending Directions
  5. The Primary Control: The Head-Neck-Back-Feet Relationship

The Primary Control directions

Let your neck be free,

to let your head go forward and up (relative to your spine),

to let your back lengthen and widen,

to let your feet go more to the floor.


Send these directions one after the other, all at the same time.


Stop. Renew.


Shortcut ways to send the directions


    • Roll your ears toward your nose to gather your whole spine
    • Release your head in the direction that your spine points

The Secondary Control directions

Let your shoulders widen away from each other*;

let your elbow lengthen away from your shoulder;

let your wrist lengthen away from your elbow;

and let your fingers lengthen away from your wrist.


Send these directions one after the other, all at the same time.


Stop. Renew.


*Let your collarbones widen away from each other,

and let your shoulder blades widen away from each other

On walking

Be like Snoopy and get your weight completely over one leg or the other.

On lowering yourself in space

The key conception is that you send your knees forward away from your back.

Organize yourself and keep lengthening along your spine as you let your knees, hips, and ankles flex. (Go up to go down.)

Here is a fun video for inspiration; note how the top half of the structure maintains its integrity as the lower half does the work of folding (or buckling, shall we say?).

On getting out of a chair

The key conception is that you send your feet (more) to the ground.

Organize yourself and check that your ankles being grounded supports the height of your ears. Pivot forward if necessary, and renew your organization and redo the ankle-ear check.

Envision yourself already standing: you're centered above your feet, with your pelvis perched atop your femurs.

Send your heels to (or even through) the ground, which opens up your hip joints and brings you to standing. (Go down to go up.)

Gallery of Analogies

You are a coat tree from Ikea

You are a spring-loaded curtain rod

You are a ski jumper

That Garfield cartoon I'm always talking about

Get your torso up off your legs, as Garfield does in the middle panel:

Words of wisdom from F.M. Alexander

"Our manner of use is a constant influence for good or ill upon our general functioning."

(In other words, the way you use yourself determines the condition of your body.)


More to come....

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Elaine@StrengthAndPoise.com | (617) 299-0036 | Watertown, MA 02472

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