What is "good use"?

Central to Alexander Technique is the idea of "good use". Since the way we use ourselves intricately affects how we function, it's worth taking a moment to explore what this means.

Good use involves using the whole of oneself in a balanced manner, whether what we are doing is considered to be predominantly a physical or mental activity. When we are mentally calm, focussed and alert, this ought to reflect in the body as a poised and relaxed state. Equally, when we are involved in something we think of as physical, this should not leave us mentally distracted and out of touch with ourselves.

When mind and body are in harmony, we typically see an integrated relationship of the head, neck and back. This subtle relationship has a primary influence on how we move, and when we understand how to let it work for us, sitting, standing, walking and other everyday activities happen smoothly without any obvious effort, giving an easy upright balance that is neither over-tense nor collapsed. Learning how to get out of the way and let these postural mechanisms do their job paves the way for a confident, elegant, and natural state of poise.

These qualities can be seen in the picture above of Burmese dancers practising a classical dance form - where the head is freely poised atop a flexible lengthening spine, and the back dynamically engaged with the arms and legs.