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Published: April 3, 2018 (5 years ago.)
Tags:  Health · Posture

The book in...
One sentence:
The focus is, unsurprisingly, mostly on posture, but the concepts can be applied more generally as well; if something hurts, get to the root of the reason for hurting.

Five sentences:
Given the focus us posture, a good deal of pages are devoted to conveying a simple but critical foundation, how you think you are standing is not really how you are standing. Before you can know how you are actually standing you need to use mirrors, or advisers, to show you, objectively, how you are standing. The seemingly, to me at least, common sense aspect of the book is that if something hurts, there must be a reason for it and if you can locate, through the aforementioned mirrors or advisers, and eliminate the root cause, the pain will abate. This theory can be applied to all manner of ailments originating from habits, such as posture is only one simple example. Finally there is a criticism of school and work environments in regards to having unergonomic furniture that teaches us bad habits from you and reinforces them in adulthood, culminating in the staggering expenditures relating to preventable back and neck pain.

designates my notes. / designates important.


There really isn’t much here, in 173 pages. The most obvious statement, which might not be very common today, is to be conscious about how you hold and carry your body.

Using mirrors of having others offer you feedback about how you are actually positioned may reveal that how you think you are standing/sitting is not how you actually are standing/sitting. It seems like common sense that empirical data should be held up in favor of what you think.

Lastly I would agree with the idea that: if something is hurting, why is it? Another common sense question in my mind, but many may not think to look for a root cause. Particularly in our world where surgical operations and lifetime prescriptions are seen as the only path to health.

Before going to such extremes to relieve or mask pain, ask: what are you doing and how are you doing it? Is there a better way?

The book itself promotes what I’ll call a hippy dippy view. The author promotes Ram Das and his destructive live in the moment attitude alongside none other than Aldous Huxley. I wouldn’t say the author even realizes the extent that these two are bad actors, but it should be mentioned seeing as how someone duped by these two agents might not be the best place to go for advice, in any arena.

I also wonder, how did this guy (this author, not Alexander) write four books about this topic? This one goes on and on, stories taking up the lion’s share of the book. The technique could be introduced, and even extolled, in two dozen pages, plus pictures. The stories add little but human interest, good if you are looking for a pick me up or as part of a sales pitch, not so good if you want to get down to brass tacks.

Again it is the hippy philosophy that turns me off more than anything else. The technique itself seems more than reasonable.

A year or more before I read this book, I followed a similar path of thinking when I built a custom ergonomic ‘desk’.


The Use of the Self, Gollancz, 1985 
The Universal Constant in Living, Centerline Press, 1986 
Man’s Supreme Inheritance, Centerline Press, 1988 
Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, Gollancz, 1987 

Exceptional Excerpts

“Interference with the physiological mechanisms often occurs habitually and unconsciously.”)

“The existence of the Primary Control, which organizes balance and coordination throughout the rest of the body."

“The way in which a person uses themselves will invariably affect their various functions.”)

“The body does not function as a collection of separate independent parts, but as a whole unit, with every part affecting every other part.”)

“A given stimulus produces the same reaction over and over again, which, if it goes unchecked, turns into habitual behaviour. This habitual reaction will eventually feel normal and natural to us. “)

“The Alexander Technique also involves examining and improving posture, breathing, balance and coordination, which are inseparable from one another.”)

“It is often hard for us to detect this increase in tension because it builds up gradually over the years. We become accustomed to the ways in which we sit and stand, and while these ways may feel comfortable to us, they are often putting strain upon our body without our realizing it. No matter how uncoordinated these positions become, they will feel right to us. In the end, poor posture, or as Alexander called it, ‘misuse’, will feel comfortable and ‘right’ and good posture (similar to the original natural posture we had as a young child) will initially feel strange and wrong. This is the effect of what Alexander termed ‘faulty sensory appreciation’.”)

“If you were driving a car and the oil light came on, you would not take out the bulb and carry on driving; this, of course, would be foolish. You would stop the car and endeavour to find what was wrong, and if you did not you could expect more serious problems later. Yet we are not encouraged to apply the same logic to the body. “)

“The crucial point here is that trying to improve posture by deliberately sitting up straight and pulling our shoulders back will never ever work, no matter how hard we try, because we will be using our phasic muscles rather than our postural muscles to do so.”)

“National Back Pain Association UK, published in October 2005, which stated: ‘Sustained poor posture, which is probably the key environmental cause of back pain in children and adolescents, results from a combination of factors, the most significant of these seems to be the inappropriate furniture at school.’”)

Table of Contents

· Introduction

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· 01: Alexander Technique – the Benefits

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· 02: The Origin of the Technique

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1. Interference with our physiological mechanisms (poor posture) often occurs
habitually and unconsciously.

2. The existence Primary Control, which organizes balance and coordination
throughout the rest of oneself.

3. The way in which we use ourselves will invariably affect all of our various

4. The existence of faulty sensory appreciation.

5. The body does not function as a collection of separate independent parts but
as a whole unit with every part affecting every other part.

6. A given stimulus produces the same reaction over and over again, which, if
it goes unchecked, turns into habitual behaviour. This habitual reaction will
feel normal and natural to us.

7. Directing – to change a habit that involves muscular tension, we need to
just think of what we want the muscle to do rather than actually changing it by
using even more tension.

8. Inhibiting – to refuse to react to any stimulus in our automatic habitual

9. Eliminating ‘end-gaining’ – by inhibiting and directing, we can pay
attention to how we perform an action and not be only thinking about the end

10. The mind, body and emotions are not separate entities, but act in unity
with each other.

· 03: The Development of the Technique

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· 04: How the Alexander Technique Works

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1. Becoming aware of all postural habits that cause or exacerbate a lack of
coordination and a general misuse of yourself.

2. Releasing the unwanted tension accumulated over many years of standing,
moving or sitting in an uncoordinated manner.

3. Learning new ways of moving, standing or sitting that are easier and more
efficient and that put less stress on the body, thus reducing excessive wear
and tear on the bones and joints as well as allowing all the internal organs
space to function naturally.

4. Learning new ways of reacting physically, emotionally and mentally to
various situations.
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· 05: Understanding Posture

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· 06: Posture and Education

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· 07: The Secret Key to Good Posture

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· 08: The Effects of Furniture on Posture

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· 09: The Hidden Obstacle to Improving Posture

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· 10: Your Inner Acrobat

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· 11: Inside Yourself

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· 12: Posture and Shoes

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· 13: First Steps To Improving Posture

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· 14: Posture and Breathing

· 15: Bringing Your Life Back Into Balance

· Glossary

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