The Vault

Alexander & Chinese Acupuncture, Different Apporaches to Similar Conclusions

By Nilly Bassan


1. The Philosophical Approach To Man's Health

Alexander based his philosophy on the principle of 'wholeness' or 'oneness' by the fact that he considers man as a psycho-physical unity. Body and mind are inseparable and one can cure an illness, or take care of a defect only when one has the right concept about the unity of mind, body and spirit. As Alexander writes in The Use of the Self:

...the so called 'mental' and 'physical'are not separate entities; ... for this reason human ills and shortcoming cannot be classified as 'mental' or 'physical' and dealt with specifically as such, but that all training, ... whether it's object by the prevention or elimination of defect, error or disease, must be based upon the indivisible unity of the human organism.1

The same point of view about man as a psycho-physical unity lead Alexander to the conclusion about the relation between man and nature, and how nature deals with the human machinery:

Where the human machinery is concerned nature does not work in parts but treats everything as a whole.2

The philosophy of Acupuncture is based on the unique principle that the universe is the expression and the manifestation of the 'oneness' and the 'wholeness' of the primary power which is expressed by the primary force. This primary force was called 'Chi energy or 'Qi energy.' Chi is the rhythm of nature, the creative principle that makes life. Everything has the quality of Chi energy. Chi energy, which is the expression of 'life force,' is responsible for the harmony between the physical and mental state of man.

Alexander in his books does not write specifically about the 'life force,' the Chi energy, but he mentions indirectly the vital energy of life, and how it correlates in his Technique. He claims that by applying his Technique the natural result will be vitality and balance of the life force, as he writes in his book Man's Supreme Inheritance:

It is a method that makes for the maintenance and restoration of those physical conditions possessed by every normal child at birth, ... adequate resistance to disease, and a reserve power which, if a serious illness should occur, will serve to turn the tide at the critical moment towards recovery.3

Giving directions continuously deals with the ability of a person to activate constantly in everyday life—set in motion—this life force harmoniously. The result is that there is a constant flow of Chi-energy that keeps circulating freely in a very balanced way through the body. As the Chinese say, "it is a guarantee for good health."

Alexander shares the same point of view and says in Man's Supreme Inheritance:

We can secure the maximum movement of the abdominal viscera in strict accordance with the laws of nature, and will obtain at the same time a maximum functioning of all the internal organs4

Or in a footnote in The Use of the Self:

When I employ the words 'direction' and 'directed' with 'use' ... I wish to indicate the process involved in projecting messages from the brain to the mechanisms and in conducting the energy necessary to the use of these mechanisms.5

Alexander deals in his Technique with the harmony and balance which control man as an integral part of the universe.

In his opinion, in order to achieve harmony and balance in man, one has to create the delicate balance of head-neck-back which he called the "primary control." Alexander's opinion is that anyone can keep the right way of life and be healthy by using the primary control constantly in all the activities of everyday life. He writes about it in The Universal Constant in Living:

In man as in other animals, there is a certain natural and correct relation between head and spine—a relationship which, when it is preserved, guarantees that all the organs shall be in their proper position and functioning harmoniously.6

To inhibit the reaction to stimuli, to give directions and to use ourselves with correct primary control—that is the right way of living, according to Alexander, which will bring us health. If the primary control is used constantly and properly in everyday life, a person will ensure his good health. By changing his habitual behaviour concerning his use, he'll then change consciously his eating habits, drinking and smoking habits, etc. It means that through employing the primary control, Alexander gives a certain way of life which will improve the person's health and quality of life. The same idea about following the right way of life—'Tao,' as the Chinese name it, is a very ancient principle in the Chinese philosophy.

Tao means the 'Way, the 'Direction. Tao gives rise to two primary forces called 'Yin and 'Yang' or 'Heaven and 'Earth.' Both are the co-existent poles of one indivisible whole. In order to enable Chi energy to operate freely on a high level, the principle of duality of Yin and Yang must be in harmony.

From the old writings of the Nei Ching:

The principle of Yin and Yang is the basis of the entire universe. It is the principle of everything in creation. It is the root and source of life and death.

Since the entire universe follows an immutable course which manifests itself through the change of night and day, the recurrence of the seasons, through growth and decay, man in his utter dependence on the universe could not do better than consciously follow a way which was conceived after that nature.

From the Nei Ching:

These who follow Tao achieve the formula of perpetual youth and maintain a useful body.

As Alexander considers the body and mind to be part of one hole, it is obvious that when the mental and the physical aspects of a person work in harmony the person is well. What is a state of illness? Alexander states that it is disorder in the work of the mechanisms, lack of control—specifically of the primary control. Loss of vitality and low functioning of the organs—these are all symptoms of illness. That's how he describes it in Man's Supreme Inheritance:

...all specific bad habits, such as over-indulgence in food, drink, tobacco, etc., evidence a 'lack of control' in a certain direction, and the greater number of specific disorders, such as asthma, tuberculosis, cancer, nervous complaints, etc., indicate interference with the normal conditions of the body, lack of control, and imperfect working of the human mechanisms, with displacement of the different parts of the mechanism, loss of vitality and its inevitable concomitant, lower activity of the functioning in all the vital organs. When the subject has arrived at this condition, harmful habits become established, and the standard of resistance to disease is seriously lowered.7

Chinese health is founded on the same principles which operate in the universe—balance and harmony. Disease is lack of balance. The only way to cure a disease is to bring the body back to good balance. Diseases are based on two factors mental and physical. When one is sick both the mental and physical lack of balance show themselves on the surface of the body. The body is a mirror reflecting the disturbances within itself.

2. The Concepts of Human Health

A. The Approach of the Psycho-physical Unity

Alexander states in his book The Universal in Living that when there is the wrong relationship between head, neck and back there is lack of balance, the body functions badly and the person is ill:

...interference with the correct employment of the primary control of our manner of use is a potent factor in inducing and maintaining the harmful functioning accompanying conditions of ill-health.8

In order to be healthy one should keep a correct use of the primary control so that the psycho-physical balance will be kept. Then the person will be healthy and will function to his best ability, as Alexander writes in Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual:

The satisfactorily coordinated child on a plane of conscious control will be possessed of a psycho-physical mechanism which will tend to function on the maximum in all spheres in accordance with the standard of co-ordination reached.9

The ancient Chinese also relate the issue of health to psycho-physical unity. As can be expected the affinity of Yin and Yang to each other was held to have a decisive influence upon man's health.

Perfect harmony between the two elements meant health. Disharmony, or undue preponderance of one element, brought about disease and death. Disease meant internal lack of balance. But man is not helplessly exposed to the whims of Yin and Yang. He has received the doctrine of Tao as a means of maintaining perfect balance and securing health and long life.

It is written in the Nei Ching:

Those who have the true wisdom remain strong while those who have no wisdom grow old and feeble.

B. The Relationship Between Use and Function

Alexander investigated human behaviour. He found that use influences the functioning of the body, so that use and function are inseparable. His outlook on cases such as asthma, stuttering, even appendicitis, show that he concludes about the functions of the body through looking at the way that a person uses himself. Good use will ensure good functioning, which will ensure good health. A constant effect of good use and good function will raise the standard of health. As Alexander mentions in The Universal Constant in Living:

A good manner of use of the self exerts an influence for good upon general functioning which is not only continuous, but also grows stronger as time goes on, becoming a constant influence tending always to raise the standard of functioning and improving the manner of reaction.10

From the micro-cosmos-man, Alexander continues to macro-cosmos nature, by saying:

...Nature has provided us all with potentiality for the reasoning out of means for preventing wrong use of the self, but we have not developed any preventive measures to this end because we have assumed, quite erroneously, that our manner of use of ourselves cannot go wrong or fail us.11

The Chinese approach about health is somewhat different but the basic concept is that of Yin and Yang and from it develops the concept of five elements. The essence of this ancient tradition is that Yin and Yang, in addition to exerting their dual power, are subdivided into water, fire, metal, wood and earth.

Man, who is the product of heaven and earth by the interaction of Yin and Yang, also contains, therefore, the five elements. There is a close relationship between the five elements and the human body in aspects such as behaviour, use, function etc. Not only the twelve main organs are included in and related to the five elements, but also the seasons, the emotions, the sounds, the tissues, the senses—all of them are related to the five elements.

Alexander emphasizes—throughout his four books—the unity of body and mind. He too thinks that they are inseparable. Whenever one part does not function properly, the other parts will suffer, because they'll have to do the extra work. In his book The Use of the Self he writes:

...the unity of the human organism is indivisible, and where there is an understanding of the means whereby the use of the mechanisms can be directed in practice as a concerted activity, in the sense I have tried to define, the principle of unity works for good. But there is a reverse side to the picture. It is in the nature of unity that any change in a part means a change in the whole, and the parts of the human organism are knit so closely into a unity that any attempt to make a fundamental change in the working of one part is bound to alter the use and adjustment of the whole.12

An explanation of the concept of the five elements by the ancient Chinese and of the connection between the physical aspects and the mental ones and seeing both use and function is the concept of the twelve officials. What are these twelve officials? The twelve organs are twelve officials which work like twelve ministers. Each of them has got its own role but must work in communication with the others. When all of them work properly, everything is right and the person is healthy. When one of them fails in its functions, it affects the functions of all the others. For an example of the harmonious way that the officials should work together take the wood element—the gall bladder is the official who makes the decisions and controls the judgement. All the other officials are totally dependent on him.

The gall bladder is concerned with inner purity. If everything is pure, it is the right one to make pure decisions and judgement.

When the gall bladder's purity is tainted there will be sourness, bitterness, in mind as well as in body. On the mental level it will create lack of decisions, unrest, distrust, feeling of cut-off. The patient is angry, shouting, violent and lacks in understanding. On the physical level, when this official is ill there will be a foggy vision, stiff neck and difficulty to move the arms, indecision to which side to move the head, irregular periods, inability to urinate, constipation, deafness. When the Chinese doctor decides where the lack of balance is in the body he can evaluate not only the malfunction in the internal organs, but the wrong use and the psycho-physical condition of the patient. The psychological aspect is indivisible from the physical aspect.

C. Diagnosis

While Alexander diagnosed the psycho-physical state of his pupils—he identified their misuses and defects in order to teach them how to change their use of themselves. The Chinese, in order to cure their patients, diagnose the lack of balance that causes illness.

As the concept of both systems is that of unity of mind and body, the diagnosis in both of them is based on the mental-physical aspects of the person.

In both methods man is considered as a whole. Everything is connected within the human machine. The external body is correlated to the internal, the mental aspect to the physical, the use to function. External symptoms indicate that there is a lack of balance mentally physically, and it is necessary to keep the balance in man as a whole. As Alexander says:

...we must draw particular attention in this connection to the fact that these outer signs are correlated with inner defects. Neither outer sign nor inner defect is from one point of view the resultof the other. The original cause is some faulty or imperfect co-ordination or conception of function; the inner defect and outer sign-mark are equally a consequence as they are to us an index.13

Alexander diagnoses the person mainly through looking at the way that he uses himself. He also analyzes the facial expression of a person as part of a diagnosis The Use of the Self:

...the voice must be used if we are to judge it's tone, there must be use of the eyes if they are to flash, of the muscles of the face for change of expression, and, for excitability to be manifested, the whole of the mechanisms of use must be stimulated into undue activity and muscles tension.14

By finding the misuse and the defects of the person's physical behaviour he concludes about his physical and mental state and function as well. As he writes in The Use of the Self:

My experience in all these cases has brought home to me the close relationship which exists between the manner of use of the mechanisms and the standard of functioning, for where I have found unsatisfactory use of the mechanisms, the functional trouble associated with it has included interference with the respiratory and circulatory systems, dropping of the abdominal viscera, sluggishness of various organs, together with undue and perverted pressures, contractions and rigidities throughout the organism, all of which tend to lower the standard of resistance to disease.15

To illustrate the process of diagnosis of Alexander we take the typical example of asthma as he diagnosed it in his book The Universal Constant in Living [numbers added]:

[1] ...misdirection of the musculature of the chest and throat so that the ordinary breathing act was more or less impeded, particularly in expiration;... [2] ...undue and harmful pulling back and down of the head,... [3] ...fixation of the bony structure of the neck in the region of the occipital muscles, while the lower part of the back of the head was pulled down... [4] ...extreme lordosis curve,... [5]...the chest was raised unduly (pigeon chest) and the pelvis thrown too far forward—all of which conditions tended to decrease the stature and unduly widen the front of the chest, resulting in harmful tension and a minimum of mobility.16

Asthma Case According to the Chinese

Asthma according to the Chinese is malfunction of mental element. The lung is the official that receives Chi from heaven, He is the controller of Chi. He is responsible for the movement of respiration and heartbeat. All the other officials depend on the freshness of air for revitalizing. When he is ill all the others starve from lack of oxygen, and the blood is not revitalized.

The lungs liquefy the impure fluids and send them down to the kidneys for separation and excretion. If the lungs do not properly send down the Chi, or if the kidneys fail to hold it, Chi rebels upwards, impairing both the dispensing function of the lungs, and the proper rhythm of respiration.

On the metal level it will create: retaining of evil thoughts; stubbornness; fear of the future; deepest despair; sorrow; and melancholy. On the physical level it will create: retention of fluids; odema; constipation; skin diseases; nasal disorders; and vocal troubles. Failure of descending Chi will cause: shortness of breath; stiff chest; pain between shoulders; and lower back pain.

The Chinese in their diagnosis use every symptom that could be located on the body. They consider the smell of the skin, its colour, the sound of the voice, the tongue, the clarity of the eyes and physical behaviour.

It was believed in ancient China that the mind directs the energy and the energy in its turn exercises the body. The diagnosis of physical behaviour consists of checking the flexibility of the joints and muscles, the breathing while moving, balance in body movements, and the alertness of the mind. The Chinese doctors check a man's movements in relation to the way he functions physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

They give their patients rhythmic movements and breathing exercises that are intended "to develop a clear intellect, ensure health and cure complaints."

Another aspect that is checked are the 'alarm points.' These are points on the skin which are located on every meridian (energy pass) and are very sensitive to the touch. Even before the patient feels any symptom they indicate that the specific meridian is unbalanced.

The main diagnosis is done through the pulses. The Chinese found that it is possible to feel and to palpate twelve pulses in the region of the radial artery from the wrist downwards, corresponding to six pulses in each hand. Each pulse is connected with a different meridian and organ.

Contrary to Western medical practise—which checks only the quantity of pulses—the Chinese distinguish twenty-seven degrees of different qualities of each pulse which are connected with different conditions in the body. We can distinguish that a pulse is thin, rough, rigid, floating, blocked, puffing, aggressive, tense, etc.

Pulses are taken for assessment before treatment, during treatment to assess the course of the treatment, and after treatment for evaluation of the treatment.

In a healthy person the pulses should be, smooth, flexible, calm, broad in volume and full of energy. Thus the two methods use the body itself as the main instrument for diagnosis.

Alexander concludes about the functioning and psycho-physical balance of a person through diagnosis of use, whilst Acupuncture concludes about use, function and the mental and physical state of the health of a person through different outer signs on the surface of the body—mainly the pulses.

3. The Approach to Practical Work

The Alexander Technique and Acupuncture are similar in their fundamental approaches to practical work—both are systems that work primarily on the basis of prevention. Though the Alexander Technique teaches the correct use of the self as a psycho-physical unity, and Acupuncture treats the person as a whole, part of the treatment in ancient China was teaching people a different way of eating, breathing, moving etc (see Diagram 3).

Both methods educate people in in the correct way of life, leading them to be responsible—by preventing illnesses—for their own health.

In the Alexander Technique, as in Acupuncture, the teacher or doctor should be a person who is experienced in the right and correct way of life so that he can also guide others.

In the Alexander Technique it should be someone who has the right concept and a better use of the primary control through conscious control. As Alexander said in an unpublised lecture he gave at the Bedford Training College:

The pupil must get a mental concept of what is wanted. If the pupil goes on then to get a sensory conception of how to do it, it will be wrong. Therefore he has to trust you as a teacher, giving to him the orders or directions, while you with your hands supply the right sensory experiences corresponding to those directions.17

The Chinese demand a high standard of health from those who treat others as it is written in the Nei Ching:

Those who are habitually without disease, help to train and to adjust those who are sick, for those who treat should be free from illness. Therefore they train the patient to adjust his breathing and in order to train the patient they act as example.

Alexander outlined a very constructive method so that by applying it one can reach the stage of coordination, harmony and balance in the body. He mentions in his lecture in Bedford Training College two very important factors to consider while teaching and using the Technique.

A. Thinking in Activity

The first factor is that of 'Thinking in activity.'

The principle of thinking of reasoning out first and then putting into practicer the 'means whereby' opf doing any particular thing that we want to do is the backgrounf of all our work. This is the point from which we begin.18

The Chinese developed an ancient way of exercising to achieve health and tranquillity which is called Tai Chi Chuan dating back to 1000A.D. It is a way of moving slowly and continuously without strain through a varied sequence of contrasting forms that create stable vitality with calmness, balanced strength with flexibility and controlled energy with awareness.

The fundamental approach to these exercises is that the body is the form and the mind which is the spirit is actually the moving force. Mental 'motion' is present with every physical action.

It is written in the Ming Dynasty documents:

What is meant by making good use of the body? The answer is: The mind wills and the body obeys.

Guiding spirit is the master and the body, bones and flesh are the servants. Tai Chi Chuane is "controlled by the mind" exercises.

B. Using Antagonistic Pulls

The second factor that Alexander emphasizes in his lecture in Bedford is that only by using oppositions we can move and use ourselves in coordination and balance. As he explains while demonstrating on a pupil:

She is directing her head forward from here, her knees forward and her hips back, and that is the only way you can get your antagonistic pulls. By physical culture methods you do not get antagonistic pulls, and that is what is the matter. What interests me is to give her something to do by means of which she will put this head forward and the knees forward and the hip back and to get the antagonistic pulls working.19

These antagonistic pulls should be used in order to get the correct relation between head, neck and back. As Alexander states:

The working is all antagonistic. When the head is put forward the body is pulled back, when the head is pulled back the body is put forward. That is the way the primary control usually works.20

The Chinese also based their physical exercises—Tai Chi Chuan and other forms—on the concept that all of life is composed of, and has been set in motion, by the constant interplay of two opposite vital energies—Yin, the passive and Yang, the active principle. No part has a life of its own but each exists in complementary interaction with the other Yin and Yang mutually help each other. Tai Chi is the root of motion (Yang) which has division and of stillness (Yin) which has union.

Tai Chi is this duality in harmonious relationship. Tai Chi holds in balance what is separate. A few examples of the opposites as experienced in the exercises of Tai Chi Chuan are: Yang is movement while Yin is stillness. Yang is motion while Yin is rest. Yang is straight and Yin is curved. Yang is expansion and Yin is contraction. Yang is right, Yin is left. Yang is inhalation, Yin is exhalation. Yang is forward Yin is backwards, Yang is rise Yin is sink. There is nothing without its opposite. There is nothing that does not change in order to be permanent (to live)—which in itself is a Yin Yang statement. Though different they supplement each other, in the continuous movement between them, without beginning and without end.

The interplay of these two fundamental and vital elements implies "perpetual motion". Together in Tai Chi where their relationship is perfect, they constitute equilibrium and harmony.

These two forces should be considered when a teacher works with a pupil, and when we apply the primary control within ourselves. The teacher's back should be very solid, firm and still which has the quality of Yin while the hands should be moving freely with flow—with the quality of Yang.

The balance between the left and the right hand should be kept as between Yin and Yang. While keeping the back straight—which indicates the quality of Yang the hands move curved, which indicates the quality of Yin.

While giving directions the body is still, Yin is on the outside and the activity of thoughts and breathing inside makes Yang on the inside. When one starts to move, Yang changes to the outside by the movement of the body and the quietness of breathing and thinking of the inner body becomes Yin.

When a teacher uses force in his hands and tries to pull the pupil's head instead of directing it, his hands have the quality of Yang and the pupils neck gets tense and he becomes passive—Yin. But when it is done according to Alexander's way and directing the pupil, the hands of the teacher are soft, without tension—Yin, the pupil's neck is freed and he becomes active by directing and elongating himself—Yang.

Looking at a person that uses himself with correct primary control, his length is Yang—holding himself upwards towards heaven, and he is supported by earth under his feet,—Yin. The same length that pulls him up, is there down under him to the depths of earth which is Yin. (Like standing on a mirror—see Diagram 4).

It means that by supporting himself by earth—Yin—and directing himself upwards by the primary control to heaven—Yang—he finds his balance.

As it is indicated by the ancient Chinese: to fulfil Tao one should live in harmony with Heaven and Earth, and with Yin and Yang.

Alexander wrote also about the way that a c-oordinated person holds himself in Man's Supreme Inheritance:

The properly co-ordinated person employs a due amount of tension in such a way that the tendency of the spine and legs is to lengthen, and the equilibrium is such that undue pressure through the floor is absent, and there is lightness and freedom in the movements of such a person that is most noticeable.21

As both methods deal with the practical way of using oneself properly, the description of Tai Chi according to the ancient writings of the Ming Dynast is very apt also to working in the Alexander Technique:

Calmness is of decisive importance... there will be perfect spontaneity only when everything is done according to the dictates of the mind. There will be no danger of being heavy and clumsy, or of attaining lightness [or top of head] if the spirit co-operates. Even when exerting effort one must be calm and appear effortless. One must concentrate and aim at one direction. The entire body, must be loose, straight, comfortable, peaceful, quiet, centered... Motion should be like refined steel. The form is like that of a hawk about to seize a rabbit. The spirit is like that of a cat about to catch a mouse. The quietness is like that of a mountain range, movement is agile like a river. Storing up energy is like that of an open bow; letting go is like that of letting the arrow go. Seek straightness in a curve. Store up energy before using it. Strength comes from the spine; steps follow body changes; getting ready is as important as doing. It has continuity though it has 'broken movement. 'Like a pleat which folds in on itself and continues to the next one with rhythm and order, so the movement goes forward and back with rhythm and order and continuity. There must be changes, alterations and variety. Only when one knows how to be 'soft' can one be properly strong. Learn to breathe well and then you'll have alacrity, alertness, speed. One's attention is on the spirit not on breath... too much preoccupation with breath makes one clumsy. Chi must be cultivated without hindrance, as a result of which you'll be able to do anything.

First conceive in mind; then express in the body. Keep abdomen loose, breath permeates bones; give spirit free rein and the body will be calm. Be attentive all the time. Deeply remember: one single movement suffices to effect the whole body movement; there is no isolated quiet without enveloping the whole being.

When one uses himself correctly according to the primary control through conscious control one gets the power to do things without an effort, and reaches a psycho-physical balance that will satisfy both the physiologist and the psychologist, as Mr. Alexander showed in his demonstration in Bedford:

I am not going to try and get up on my toes, but I am going to send messages from my brain to let my head go forward. She gets the power which of itself automatically lifts her without any fuss or trouble on her part. Incidentally in doing it this way she'll be satisfying both the physiologist and the psychologist.22

Chinese Meridians

Looking a little closer at the Chinese Meridians (energy pathways) and the points of treatment on them, an Alexander Technique teacher can get explanations of the physical and mental effect that the right use of the primary control produces:

1. The points on the head are all connected with heaven, and the direction up.

2. The points on the back are responsible for the psycho-physical strength of the person, and are connected with specific internal organs.

3. The points on the anterior part are the ones that are connected directly with Qi energy and regulate it.

1. The points on the neck and head

GV 20............ Hundred Meetings
Clears the senses and calms the spirit.
Helps to cure headache, dizziness, shock, hypertension,
insomnia, seizures, prolapsed anus.

GV 23............ Upper Star
Disperses wind,heat, conditions, clears the nasal cavity.

1. The points on the neck and head cont'd
Helps in severe headaches, facial oedema, extra tissue in
nose, nosebleed, sinus problems, dizziness, sore eyes,

B7 ............... Reaching Heaven
Helps in congested 'runny nose,' loss of sense of smell,
pain and heaviness at the vertex, dizziness, hemiplegia.

S8 ................Head Support
Helps headaches, migraines, facial paralysis, sore eyes with
excessive tears, wheezing accompanied by irritability and
fullness in the chest, psychosis.

S9 ................Men's Welcome
Regulates the blood and Qi, benefits the throat.
Helps to regulate blood pressure, asthma, distension and
soreness in the throat, speech impediment.

GV 15 ............ Door of Muteness
Clears the senses and consciousness.
Helps in occipital headache, stiff neck, nosebleed, stiff
tongue inhibiting speech, insanity, convulsions.

B 10 ..............Heaven's Pillars
Helps in occipital headache stiffness and soreness in the
back of the neck, hysteria.

GB 20 ............ Pool of Wind
Disperses hot wind conditions, benefits hearing and vision.
Helps in sinusitis, red and sore eyes, deafness, lateral and
midline headaches, insomnia, common cold, tidal fevers,
swellings of the neck.

2. The points on the back.

GV 14 ............Big Vertebrae (C7-D1)
Clears the brain and calms the spirit.

GV 13 ............Way of Happiness (D1-D2)
Relieves head and neck muscle spasms, headache, cools
fever, calms the spirit, helps with psychosis.

GV 12 ............Body Pillar (D3-D4)
Helps bronchitis, asthma, chest and back pain, mental
diseases, hysteria.

BL 15 ............Heart's Hollow (D5-D6)
Calms the heart and spirit, regulates the blood and Qi.

GV 10 ............Spirit Platform (D6-D7)
Relieves stiffness in neck and soreness along the spine.

GV 9 .............Reaching (D7-D8)
Regulates the Qi function, expands the chest and

GV 4 .............Gate of life (L2-L3)
Nourishes the source of Qi and strengthens the kidneys,
benefits the lumbar vertebrae.

BL 24 ............Sea of Qi Hollow (L3).
Regulates the Qi and blood, strengthens the lower back
and knees.

GV 1 ........... Long Strength (coccyx and anus)
Opens up the channels of the median meridian in the
front and in the back, regulates the intestine, epilepsy and
helps to cure madness.

3. The Point On The Anterior Chest and Abdomen.
CV 22 ...........Heaven Prominence
Facilitates and regulates movement of lung. Qi cools throat
and clears the voice. Helps in diseases of vocal chords, and
spasms of the oesophagus.

CV 17 ...........Penetrating Odour
Regulates and suppresses rebellious Qi, expands the chest,
benefits the diaphragm.

CV 14.......... Great Palace
Calms the spirit and regulates the Qi.
Pacifies the stomach and benefits the diaphragm.

CV 12 ..........Middle Cavity
Regulates the stomach, Qi transforms and suppresses
rebellious Qi.

CV 6 .......... Sea of Qi.
Regulates the Qi function, strengthens deficient kidneys.

LU 2 ...........Window to the Sky
Cough, depressed and painful chest, asthma.

4. Conclusions

A.. Accupunture

The greatness of the ancient Chinese was that thousands of years ago they found a preventative way of curing people according to a holistic concept. They educated their people to live according to a certain way that would ensure better health. They developed a philosophy that was integrated in their way of life during thousands of years and became a part of their education, culture and nature.

Alexander mentions the recognition of the ancient Chinese for re-education in order to restore good health in his book Man's Supreme Inheritance:

Records exist which prove that Chinese physicians as early as 2000 B. C. employed breathing exercises in treatment of certain diseases. It is therefore obvious that the people concerned had reached:

1. A stage in their evolution which corresponds with that of our time, i.e., demanding re-education.

2. A stage of observation of cause and effect similar to that of to-day, which led them to see the need of re-education. Such re-education is essential to the restoration of the natural conditions present at the birth of every normal babe, though gradually deteriorated under conditions of modern life.23

B. Alexander

The uniqueness of the Alexander Technique is that it is a structured system which is relatively easy to grasp in different countries and on different levels. In the structured system if one goes according to the basic principles in a way easy to be understood in the western world, one can maintain the Technique. The basic principles are:

1. Recognition of the force of habit.
2. Inhibition and non doing.
3. Recognition of faulty sensory awareness.
4. Sending directions.
5. The primary control.

Though it started as one man's Technique, the Alexander work has spread throughout the world in the last two decades and is now a significant Technique which has many supporters. Though the two systems seem poles apart, both systems have many similarities—great minds think alike!!!


1. Nei Ching, —Elza Veith.
2. Acupuncture—A comprehensive Text—John O'Conor and Dan Bensky.
3. Chinese Acupuncture—Dr. Wu Wei Ping.
4. Auricula Therapy—Dr. Nogier
5. Embrase Tiger Return to Mountain: The Essence of Tai Chi—Al Chung.
6. Tai Chi Chuan: Body and Mind in Harmony—Sofia Delza.
7. Tai Chi Chuan—Y.K. Chan.
(Ed: No editions supplied by the writer. Please write directly to her for full references.)


1. Alexander, F.M., The Use of the Self, Gollancz, London (1985) p22
2. Alexander, F.M., Man's Supreme Inheritance, Chaterson, London, (1946), p201
3. Ibid., p205
4. Ibid., p183
5. Alexander, F.M., The Use of the Self, op cit., p35
6. Alexander, F.M., The Universal Constant in Living, Centreline Press, Long Beach, (1986) p73
7. Alexander, F.M., Man's Supreme Inheritance, op cit., p173
8. Alexander, F.M., The Universal Constant in Living, op cit., p19
9. Alexander, F.M., Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, Edition not supplied by author, p250 (sic)
10. Alexander, F.M., The Universal Constant in Living, op cit., p8
11. Ibid., p8
12. Alexander, F.M., The Use of the Self, op cit., p54
13. Alexander, F.M., Man's Supreme Inheritance, op cit., p184
14. Alexander, F.M., The Use of the Self, op cit., p80
15. Ibid., p87
16. Alexander, F.M., The Universal Constant in Living, op cit., p38
17. Alexander, F.M., Talk given at the Beford Training College, (unpublished).
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Alexander, F.M., Man's Supreme Inheritance, op cit., p168
22. Alexander, F.M., Talk given at the Beford Training College, (unpublished).
23. Alexander, F.M., Man's Supreme Inheritance, op cit., p191


Nilly Bassan is a noted teacher and the founder of the Alexander Technique Centre, Haifa, in Israel. She trained at the Alexander Foundation in London with Patrick MacDonald, graduating in 1969, and worked as an assistant to Peter Scott at his training school the year following her graduation. At the same time, she trained as an acupuncturist at the Chinese College of Acupuncture in London.

Upon returning to Israel, she started giving lectures and demonstrations to musicians, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and others, whereby she promoted both the Alexander Technique and Acupuncture, virtually unknown disciplines at the time.

In 1981, Nilly Bassan became one of the founders of the Alexander Technique school in Haifa where she taught until 1987. In 1988, she created her own school—the Alexander Technique Centre—where she has a large practice and holds workshops for junior teachers from all over Israel.

In addition to her private practice, Nilly Bassan teaches the Alexander Technique to handicapped people in the Orthopedics Department of the Bnei Zion Hospital and to wounded soldiers at Beit Halochem. She also works with musicians and with actors at the Israeli School of Theater. She regularly gives lectures and workshops at the University of Haifa, Israel, New York and Vancouver.

While teaching and holding her private practice, Nilly Bassan has also been practising acupuncture and has acquired a large practice in it.

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