How You Stand, How You Move, How You
the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection
and Achieve Self-Mastery
Vineyard, Publ. Marlowe & Company, 3 July 2007, price
US$18.95, 336pp, 60 B&W illustrations, ISBN-10:
1-60094-006-4, ISBN-13: 978-1-60094-006-4. Available from
by Anthony P Kingsley
(first published in Statnews, September 2007).
learn the Alexander Technique without a teacher? How
essential is the hands-on guidance from a skilled Alexander
teacher? How do we individually perceive the written or
spoken word? How do we interpret visual imagery? Is it all
reading How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live by
Missy Vineyard, I am left with mixed feelings.
is a useful contribution to the library of Alexander books.
It is written in a clear, friendly and conversational style.
The tone is educational but undogmatic, informative but not
overly academic, and instructive without appearing
enjoyed the case-stories, which describe a number of very
personal and moving one-to-one Alexander sessions. They
reveal an intelligent and empathic teacher with a highly
evolved observational skill, as well as a capacity for
interpreting a variety of visual and sensory cues.
chapter introduces the reader to a particular aspect of the
Alexander Technique. This is done through a mix of
anecdotes, self-experimentations and discussion. Headings
include, Feelings gone Wrong, A Malfunctioning
Locomotor System, and Anxiety and Performance. I
enjoyed the chapter, Fears Body-Mind which explores
the psychophysical nature of fear. Here, Vineyard details
the neurochemical nature of reactions, and the stereotypical
habit patterns that can develop over time. She wisely
remarks, "As a culture we largely neglect to teach our young
that it is possible to tolerate reasonable levels of
discomfort without reacting in defence."
I experienced reservations in relation to the recommended
Self-experiments. There is a real danger of it straying
into a How To manual. Alexander himself discovered
the Technique over a period of many dedicated years of
self-observation and experimentation. Vineyard claims that
by following her specific procedures, the reader is
following in Alexander’s footsteps, and will be able to
learn, amongst other things, how to inhibit and direct. I
believe this to be idealistic and slightly naïve.
with guidance from a skilled Alexander teacher, the pupil
generally suffers from fixed ideas and misunderstandings. I
am reminded of Patrick Macdonald’s caveat, "Alexander used
to tell us that ‘if you do what I did, you will be able to
do what I do.’ The trouble is that we will not and I have
never met anyone who would. Perhaps could is the better
section that offers exercises to strengthen the deep muscles
of the neck and back do not belong in an Alexander book.
Equally, the 50 well-drawn illustrations scattered
throughout, may not illuminate in the way intended.
mitigate some of my concerns, I do think that for an
Alexander teacher, or for an experienced pupil, the
experiments and discussions offer an exploration into the
link between our thinking and our muscular reactions. This
can provide a tool for ongoing self-enquiry.
hope that the intimate stories, useful insights and engaging
style will encourage the novice to seek out a teacher in
order to gain the experiences described so evocatively in
Macdonald, The Alexander Technique As I See It, 1989,
pbk, UK, The Alpha Press, 125pp, ISBN 0951507206, £14.95,
P Kingsley 2007