DEFINING THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE Tim Soar © 1999
If a small child picks up an object from the floor, he will invariably adopt a partial squat, an attitude known in the Alexander Technique as a monkey –folding at the hips, knees and ankles and maintaining the integrity of the head/ neck/back relationship – in order to reach the floor.
The fact that this pattern of movement is so inaccessible to most adults is merely further evidence of the extent to which we interfere with our natural poise and balance. Alexander realised that this simple movement can be used both as an accurate indicator of the quality of a person’s postural coordination and as a procedure through which to improve that coordination. This is, of course, part of the idea of working on the chair, and monkey can add an extra dimension to this process of postural refinement.
There are, perhaps, three principal benefits to be gained from learning and practising monkey.
Like everything in the Alexander Technique, the key to good monkeys is inhibition – standing with the legs bent does not constitute a monkey; standing with the legs bent without stiffening the
neck or jamming the head down onto the spine, without clenching the legs or restricting the breathing, does.