Blog Series: Understanding The 5 Principles of Alexander Technique - Part 2

Updated: May 27, 2019

In this five part blog series, I explore and break down the five principles of the Alexander Technique in depth (and in order!:)


The five principles of the Alexander Technique are in order:

1. Recognition of the Force of Habit

2. Inhibition and Non-Doing

3. Recognition of Faulty Sensory Awareness

4. Sending Direction

5. The Primary Control


This post will focus on the second principle: Inhibition and Non-Doing (click the link above to read the first article if you missed it!)


The inhibition and non-doing principle is one of the most unique and found only within the Alexander Technique. The idea is that in order to bring about a better use of the body, you have to first stop (inhibit) and choose not to do the bad habits that are getting in the way.


We are all born with beautiful use of the self. Just look at babies, toddlers, and young children if you need any proof:



Just look at the beautiful organization of the primary control: head forward and up; back long and wide; feet connected to the ground


Over the course of our lifetime, we all develop habits that interfere with the good use of the primary control. This is due to many factors, such as aging and giving into the force of gravity, but is mostly due to the fact that we do not consciously think about how we use our bodies in our every day life. This lack of awareness in how we use our bodies results in the majority of people developing terrible habits in the body (slumping, tension, rigidity, imbalance, pain, degeneration).


This collapse begins to happen as early as elementary school and continues into adulthood, as seen in the following picture:


Head back and down; slumped and tight shoulders; rounded and collapsed spine; tense fingers, wrists, and arms.


So, when we think about developing the good use of the body, we want to begin to think about it, as F.M. Alexander says, as a un-learning, or an un-doing of the negative habits that have built up. Having a good use of the self is our birthright. When we first un-do the bad habits that we are engaging in, it allows for the body to send the directions for the correct use of the primary control.





In practice, this might look like stopping and refusing to overuse the muscle of the shoulder when lifting the arm, and returning instead to the primary directions of the head and lengthening the spine in order to lift the arm. Or for someone with a stutter, it would be to refuse the tension in the jaw, neck, legs, and hip before beginning the act to speak.


It is actually quite comforting to know that most of the things that are going wrong in our bodies are simply habits, and that if you stop doing them, you are half way there!