Definition: Directions

The term ‘Directions’ is used in the Alexander Technique with two different but frequently overlapping meanings.

1 'Directions' are the mental instructions we learn to give ourselves before and during an action, in order to bring about changes in the way we use ourselves whilst performing the action.

2 The instructions that are given also indicate the ‘direction’ in which we wish to release and lengthen muscles – for instance, allowing our knees and thighs to release out and away from our hip joints.

As an example we can see how Alexander concluded, after trying but failing to stop his habit of mis-use in which he pulled his head back and down when using his voice, so that he continually had vocal problems:

'Once this misdirection was inhibited, my next step would be to discover what direction would be necessary to ensure a new and improved use of the head and neck, and, indirectly, of the larynx and breathing and other mechanisms... and in its place employ my reasoning processes.... to select... the means-whereby a more satisfactory use could be brought about' and then 'to project consciously the directions required for putting these means into effect.'

During lessons, Alexander teachers still aim to give pupils the experience that Alexander describes, of inhibiting their old habits of mis-use and then 'of projecting the directions for the new and more satisfactory use in their proper sequence, primary, secondary, etc "all together, one after the other"... whilst the teacher at the same time with his hands makes him familiar with the new sensory experience'.

F M Alexander ~ The Use of the Self pp. 25/ 64

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