One way to understand the Alexander Technique is that it is a skill set.
A skill set that helps you manage your posture and movement by managing your intentions.
In your Alexander skill set are the two main skills of Inhibition and Direction. If you read any introductory books on the Alexander Technique you are bound to come across these two terms.
Inhibition and Direction are Alexander jargon, part of the Alexander lexicon.
And, I would argue, easily understood.
Think about Inhibition and Direction as both being Intentions.
An Intention is a wish for something you want. You can have bad intentions; but in the Alexander Technique we are all about having good intentions.
Take your bad intentions somewhere else.
Inhibition in an Intention not to do something.
You already know how to Inhibit. You Inhibit all the time, you probably just don’t label it so.
When you hold your tongue, you Inhibit saying something unpleasant you might later regret.
When you are driving and want to make a left turn, you Inhibit turning until there is a break in oncoming traffic.
In fact every time you decide to do something it also includes a choice not to do or to Inhibit something else. If you choose to take the car to the drugstore, you choose not to walk. If you choose to have a glass of water, you choose not to have a soda.
In the Alexander Technique, you learn to Inhibit specific things in yourself that get in the way of a more balanced and upright posture and easier movement.
You learn to pay special attention to the relationship between the head/neck/back and to Inhibit tightening your neck and pulling your head back and down toward your shoulders; basically, compressing and shortening this whole area.
In this way, it is a very positive Intention not to do something very specific. When you choose not to tighten your neck and pull your head back and down toward your shoulders, or at least do less of it, something else has a chance to happen.
Direction is an Intention to be more expansive.
Your body has a Direction all the time, whether you are conscious of it or not. Very often that Direction is Downward and Inward. Contractive.
In the Alexander Technique, you learn to make a conscious choice more often about that Direction. And that Direction is always Upward and Outward. Expansive. Not contractive.
Imagine a tree. It has an upward and outward Direction as it reaches toward the light. The water in a fountain also has an upward and outward Direction.
You too can choose to have a light upward and outward Direction.
In a simple way, the Alexander Technique is all about giving you the skills to make more conscious choices—about what you don’t want to do and what you do want to do.