Inclining forwards and backwards while sitting

This procedure consists of the teacher bending the pupil forwards and/or backwards at the hip joints while sitting. The forward flexing may also be used for getting from sitting to standing. This entry only considers bending forwards and/or backwards while continuing sitting with or without back support.

This procedure has no official or established name. It was used by F. M. Alexander in his teaching, but few descriptions of it exist.

Inclining forwards and backwards from the hip joints when coming from sitting to standing and back to sitting is described by Alexander. For example, in the process of sitting down he describes coming ‘to an upright position by using the hips as a hinge’.[1]

Bending forwards while sitting is also used when performing HoBC while sitting.

Inclining backwards while sitting is also used when leaning against the back of the chair (or a book or some other support). Alexander describes this as an example of a position of mechanical advantage:

Let the subject sit as far back in a chair as possible. The teacher, having decided upon the orders necessary for the elongation of the spine, the freedom of the neck (i.e. requisite natural laxness), and other conditions desirable for the particular case in hand, will then ask the pupil to rehearse those orders mentally, at the same time that he himself renders assistance by the skilful use of his hands. Then, holding with one hand one or two books against the inner back of the chair, he will rely upon the pupil mentally rehearsing the orders necessary to maintain and improve the conditions present, while he, with the other hand placed upon the pupil’s shoulder, causes the body gradually to incline backwards until its weight is taken by the back of the chair. The shoulder-blades will, of course, be resting against the books.[2]

Seán Carey, in his reporting of Marjory Barlow’s descriptions of Alexander’s teaching, describes it as ‘sitting in vertical balance and then moving forward and also backward on the sitting bones, with the body working in a pendulum-like manner’.[3]

Anthony Spawforth mentions Alexander using this procedure in Taking Time.[4]

Both Walter Carrington and Margaret Goldie are reported to have used the leaning forwards and backwards from the hip joints while sitting.[5]

Forward flexing from the hip joints also occurs while standing (seemonkey’).

See also Mechanical advantage, Chair work, ‘Monkey’, Hands on the back of the chair (HOBC).


[1] Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. M. Alexander (Mouritz, 1995, London), page 174.
[2] Man’s Supreme Inheritance by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 1996), p. 118 fn.
[3] Think More, Do Less by Seán Carey (HITE, 2017), p. 66.
[4] Taking Time edited by Chariclia Gounaris, Crissman Taylor, Carmen Tarnowski, (Mouritz, 2021 [2000]), pp. 129–30.
[5] John Nicholls, personal communication 9 December 2020.