Musings on F. M. Alexander's Directions

by Brooke Lieb

"Allow the neck to be free

To allow the head to move forward and up

To allow the back to lengthen and widen

To allow the knees to release forward and away"

One key aspect of using the directions in Alexander lessons is to understand how they are intended to work. Thinking is the essence of the Alexander Technique, and this thinking influences our whole being. We often observe the muscular changes, but changes occur at every level.

I am always refining, re-inventing, and re-imagining how these directions are meant to be applied, and I found an envelope where I jotted down my musings about this. I didn’t date the envelope, but I would bet good money it’s been sitting on my desk for somewhere between 5 and 8 years.

Here is what I wrote:

* Do you continue to send your orders (directions) when you observe you are tightening

* Consider what you are preventing when you are thinking the directions.

* Consider what happens if you think about what the primary directions mean rather than trying to or wanting to make them happen in your body, 
your neck, or inhibiting your habitual response to a stimulus? That is the most crucial time to give the orders: when you know you are tightening your neck and pulling your head back and down.

The art of thinking in this way is a skill, that requires time and refinement. And while you are exploring these directions, there’s a good chance you will be accessing change and refinement in your system, particularly as you explore what it means to THINK, not DO these instructions.

(This post originally appeared on

N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists.