Playful attitude

Play or a playful attitude is used in the Alexander Technique by some teachers. However, there are scant records; only a few teachers have described this approach in writing.

F. M. Alexander preferred an easy atmosphere while teaching on his training course. Erika Whittaker reports: ‘It was all great fun and was never allowed to be serious in the studious sense, F. M. saw to that. If we were looking solemn in class F. M. sent us out for a walk, “come back when you are smiling again!”[1]

Marjory Barlow, inspired by Alexander, said that ‘This work is meant to be fun!’.[2]

Walter Carrington called a series of progressive steps leading to an activity ‘games’ (they are also known as directed procedures). He explains he called these procedures ‘games’ because ‘I realised very early on that people ought to approach this part of the proceedings in a non-endgaining way.’[3]


  • Cathy Madden, taking her inspiration from Diane Ackerman’s Deep Play (1999), uses the playful attitude in her teaching. She describes it in the 2008 Congress Paper ‘Teaching as deep play and teaching in activity’.[4] And also in the 2011 Congress Paper ‘Deep play variations’.[5] In her book, Teaching the Alexander Technique, she dedicates two chapters to the importance of a playful attitude, ‘Deep play facilitation’ and ‘The rigor of play and practice’.[6]
  • ‘Playing with principles’ by Sydney Laurel Harris and Kathryn Miranda, argues that the role of games and playing and a playful attitude are important for learning and teaching the Alexander Technique.[7] They refer to Man, Play and Games by Roger Caillois (1961) and The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith (1997), and A Playful Path by Bernard De Koven (2014).
  • A collection of games (in the sense of a playful activity, not a directed activity) mainly for introducing concepts and aspects of the Alexander Technique to groups was published in For the Love of Games by Rossella Buono and Anne Mallen.[8]

See also Attitude, Directed Activities (‘Games’).


[1] ‘Alexander’s Way’ by Erika Whittaker in The Alexander Journal no. 13, Autumn 1993 (STAT), p. 5.
[2] An Examined Life by Marjory Barlow, Trevor Allen Davies (Mornum Time Press, 2002), p. 27.
[3] Personally Speaking by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey (Mouritz, 2001), pp. 21-21.
[4] ‘Teaching as deep play and teaching in activity’ by Cathy Madden in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 2 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 81–94.
[5] ‘Deep play variations’ by Cathy Madden in The Congress Papers 2011, Learning from each other edited by Siriol Jones (STATBooks, 2011), pp. 82–95.
[6] Teaching the Alexander Technique – Active Pathways to Integrative Practice by Cathy Madden (Singing Dragon, 2018), pp. 123–35.
[7] ‘Playing with principles’ by Sydney Laurel Harris, Kathryn Miranda in AmSAT Journal Journal no. 9, Spring 2016, pp. 37-40.
[8] For the Love of Games – Alexander Technique Activities by Rossella Buono and Anne Mallen (Author, 2018).