F. M. Alexander, the forward thinking creator of The Alexander Technique, developed the 'directions' as a way to help cooperate with the freedom and ease we experience as we release stress.
When we experience anxiety (the startle response) our neck tenses, our breathing is restricted, and our eyes fix. We also experience a shortening and narrowing of our back muscles. This state also makes us prone to uncoordinated movement and unclear thinking.
Alexander's directions describe very succinctly the opposite, releasing state, as in: neck free, head forward and away, back to lengthen and widen. These directions and variations are not meant to be actively done, but just dropped into our consciousness like a drop of lime juice in a glass of water. Our body knows what to do because our default by nature is freedom, not tension. AlexanderÕs directions are encouragement to our nervous system, that yes, we can be free to ease our neck, lengthen and widen our back, free our breathing . . . essentially regaining our full, empowered stature.