Gerda Alexander's Method by ALICIA SOUTO

A personal research led me 15 years ago to Eutony and I finished 10 years ago my training as eutonist. Eutony is a western approach to body awareness and physical therapy Gerda Alexander was the founder of this method.

Eutony as a word, from the greek "eu" meaning harmonious and the latin "tonus" meaning tension was adopted by her for the discipline she developed around 1950.

In her own words "Eutony is a western approach of experiencing the unity of the total person. This feeling of unity and integrity liberate the creative forces and develop the capacity of contact with others without loosing your own personality". This totality manifests through the autonomic and motor nervous systems, through these functional systems the conscious and unconscious part of the body are made manifest. Our movements and posture, our breathing and all expresions of our physical, emotional and mental states are in turn influenced by them.

Trough Eutony the general unvoluntary tonus regulation and the autonomic balance can be consciously influenced through the awareness of the body surface and of the inner space including bone structure, circulation, breathing in a state of awareness we call "presence". Tonus is the level of tension of smooth and striated muscle fibers wich are controlled by the peripheral nervous system and other physiological regulators all of wich can be affected by psychological condition. In Eutony the general involuntary tonus regulation and the autonomic balance can be consiously influenced in our methodology.

We begin with the awareness of the body surface, then of the inner space, including bones, internal organs, circulation and breathing. G. Alexander in her book says: " disfunction can be eliminated and an optimal tension balance can be achieved leading to the Eutony of the total self. Such training requires a particulary acute ability to observe. Awareness itself can become the object of observation, whole tracing at the same time the effects of this observation on the whole organism and registering any change in tonus, breathing, etc., with the stillness of the body or moving and to be aware of the way in wich these functions are affected by thoughts, emotions.

We call these state of awareness "presence", this observation should be done with a "neutral " attitude. The first step in this methodology is to develop sensibility over the whole skin surface, only awareness wich includes joints, organs, muscle, bone structure, internal space as well as the radiation of the electrical field of the body.

The practioner should learn to observe the reactions of his own body and to recognize real sensations. Similar practice may lead to different reactions in the same person at different times and should be considered in relacion with psychological state and the different conditions of the environment.

The Eutonist must develop the capacity to observe the student«s state breathing rate, tonus, posture, movement, all non verbal manifestations and should also feel in himself, the student«s tonus condition. The "control positions or postures" are used as a test for the optimal musscle length the posture and movements can not be optimal.

These "control postures" have a different purpose from these used in Yoga (asanas) in spite some of them are similar.

In control positions we try to achive maximun freedom of joint movements and appropiate length of muscle for movement.

We try also to develop the attention during the practice to our "inner space" this lead us to become aware of breathing, circulation and bone structure.

Experience has shown that awareness of bone structure gives inner security in cases of psychological disturbances.

This approach is important for the general movement training in sport, dance, gymnastiques but specially in daily life and therapy.

We can develop the awareness of the effect of postural reflexes by following them from the arch of the foot, along the tibia, through the knee, the femur and its head, then through the hip joint to the pelvic girdle and to the upper part of the sacrum towards the vertebra bodies up to the head. This technique could be done from any other part of the body against a support, such as the ribs, hands, shoulders or if we are in sitting position beginning with the "sit bones" through to the head.

We can also estimulate the postural reflex form nearly all parts of the body by pushing the trunk, arms, against differents surfaces or persons which gives resistance to our bone structure.

This awareness releases the tension of muscles connected with these bones as consequence through liberation of breathing and circulation the body feels light.

Gerda Alexander arrived to therapeutical results also while working with osteoporosis through "micro strech" and even working with the "intention of movement" or intention of making a strech movement in a localized place. By working with the intention of movement only we can get all the benefits of small muscle tonus change wiwth increases circulation.

This could be more effective when we work with the "intention of gliding" the bone towards the periphery without moving the skin and other muscles. The person fells strecht in all muscle attachements to the periostea, in joint capsules and ligaments, as a result could be feel a change of pressure against the floor. The results of working with "micro strecht" and " intention of movement" like the gliding bones are release of deep muscle tonus fixations, increasing circulation, equalilzation of muscle tone.

Another technique we use are "vibrations" through which we can experience the quality and consistency of bone structure, the difference in elasticity, stabililty and porosity and the energy in bones. After vibrating one leg, we can perceive stability.

Vibrations normalize disturbed functions (abnormal postural reflexes, displaced vertebrae and dysfunction of inner organs.

G. Alexander asserts in her book that the effect of vibrations can be observe in paralysis and in cases of hormonal depression.

To obtain optimal circulation in deep lying muscles we use the "anticipatory inervation", through the intention of strech movements without executing it. This innervation exists before any movement to prepare the tonus to the movement, in this way we avoid the motor innervation and the metabolic demands of movement, the lactic acids and waste products and only tonus and blood circulation are increased.

This technique has effects for hypo and hypertension, circulation troubles, but also for legs, arms and back muscles paralized for many rears after poliomyelitis or accidents.

In Eutony a distinction is made betwen other two principles "touching" and "contact". In the first one we experience the bounderies of our body, the second one gives essential information about the external world, and sensations coming from outside. In "eutonic contact" we can include also the sourrouding space in our awareness. Thus, without touching we are able to make real contact with other human beings, objects, etc., passing through external bounderies.

This "contact" has greater influence than "touch" in relation with changes in tonus.

This technique permits reestablisment of the equilibrium of the autonomic system.

With eutonic movement, which includes total body awareness, we widen our "presence" through space by means of contact.

The use of contact with the ground has great results in relation with movements and actions which demands great efforts.

In relation with conscious contact and therapeutical application once we have the capacity of balancing our own tonus we in condition to observe and influence others tone.

During individual sesion has to be conscious of his own body and he has to be in a state of neutrality to be able to balance the student«s reaching without invading him. In Eutony the person in treatment is not a passive subject and treatments can proceed through non verbal dialogue.

We try to help the person to develop his own inner security through the conscious support of his bone structure by working with "tranport" and "repousse" (the use of force combined with transport through the bones).

With this special methodology Eutony proposes not only a way of therapy but to go deep in the discovery of ourselfs not getting away from the world but with an enlargement of daily awareness by which wew can liberate our potential creativity with a better adjustment to different life situations.

Karl Durkheim, one of the greats teachers of meditation makes explicit his debt to G. Alexander: "there are no limits to the progress of this movement of transformation of the body. It is necessary that the practitioner learn to sense himself all the time in his body so that it emerges in his own consciousness. No doubt, at the beginning of Eutony practice, the body will occupy all his thoughts, but the body which he is also the soul and the spirit ... The method of Eutony develops this art today particularly. So this practice facilitate Zazen and are the recommended preparatory exercices"

In this way Durkheim considers Eutony as a meditational discipline.

My experience is that Eutony used with yoga techniques have the potential to be an esential therapeutic approach for psychosomatic disorders and rehabilitation.

Eutony is now tought in schools and universities and use in the treatment and rehabilitation of physical disabilities, psychotheratphy and neurological diseases.

It is also used in the training of sportsmen, dancers, musicians and physical education teachers.

I teach Eutony at the School of Oriental Studies, Salvador University, Buenos Aires as a help for yoga practices.

G. Alexander wrote: "it has become commonplace to say that there is no separation betwen body and mind. Since the body is also mind, it contains traces of the individual and collective conscious and unconscious. Therefore it must also be able to express the totality of each unique personality by means of the infinite riches of its own possibilities together with the past history of humanity and all the future potentialities of the species.

Eutony is devoted to this never ending quest.


• Alexander G. " La Eutonia" Ð Ed. Paidos Ð Buenos Aires, 1979.
• Alexander G. "Eutony" Ð F. Morrow Publisher Ð New York 1985.
• Murcia, R. L'eutonie. France, 1993. Le Kinornichi. Ed. Derwy, Paris, 1996.
• Wallon, H. Psicomotricidad en los niños. Kairos, Argentina. Hemsy, V., Murcia, R."Eutretiens Sur l' ƒutonie avec G. Alexander. Ed. Derwy, Paris, 1997.
• Durkheim, K. "Meditar por qué y como? Edit. Mensajero, Bilbao, 1989
• "El maestro interior". Edit. Mensajero, Bilbao, 1988.