Alexander Technique Wiki

One of the few procedures linked to learning and applying Alexander Technique is the monkey. The name brings home that this work deals with evolution, however, FM Alexander called it initially position of mechanical advantage. Moving in the monkey position means simply deploying hip, knee and ankle joints together to lower the torso in space, while keeping the extensor system of the back activated.

This way of moving is seen in little children (and hopefully in Alexander Technique teachers during their work), but gets often replaced by less efficient strategies, which involve undue bending of the spine.

How to get into the monkey[]

Stand upright with your feet under your hip joints, the feet slightly pointing out. Without holding more than necessary tension in hip and ankle joints, move the knees over your feet. While maintaining availability in knees and ankles, hinge forward from the hip joints. Alternatively, hinge forward from the hip joint at the same time as you send the knees forward.

What can go wrong?[]

Lots of things, which is probably one of the reasons FM Alexander was very suspicious of exercises. As most people don't have a very reliable body map, instructions addressing specific parts of our musculo-skeletal system are prone to be misunderstood. The monkey is no artificial movement pattern, but the easiest way to lower the torso in space and bend it forward. It's part of the 'natural' way of sitting down and standing up, and prevent damage of the spine when lifting heavy objects from the ground.

Our version of the monkey reflects our habitual movement patterns, deficits in our body map and the distance between natural and normal movement for us. However, once the monkey becomes a natural movement again, it's easy to identify how often we deploy these movements in everyday activities.

An Alexander Technique teacher can show with his hands how we regain the ease with had as a child, at least to a degree our structure allows for. The pattern induced by our sitting culture leads to a body mapping that assigns parts of the back to our limbs, usually with restrictions and habitual tension as consequence. The monkey helps regaining awareness of the advantage of activating our extensor system throughout the back, and moving limbs freely at the same time.