F M Alexander used the term ‘Primary Control’ to refer to the way in which our Head Neck Back relationship is a primary influence and dynamic organiser, for the co-ordination of our whole body mechanism and all our movements. Elisabeth Walker, who trained with FM Alexander, says that he saw the primary control as being ‘a master reflex in co-ordinating the whole psychophysical organism’. This subtle control is only possible when we do not interfere by tightening our neck muscles, but allow the head to balance freely on the atlanto-occipital joint at the top of the spine. ~ ‘that to lengthen I must put my head forward and up. As is shewn…. this proved to be the primary control of my use in all my activities’.
In Alexander Technique lessons we can learn to become aware of how we interfere with this primary control relationship through habitual patterns of tension, contraction and ‘mis-use’. We then unlearn those habits and ‘inhibit’ them. At this point we learn to give ourselves instructions to use our body differently, we direct ourselves during activity, in order to allow the Head-Neck-Back relationship to re-establish itself and function as it is designed to do.