Alexander Technique-Keep It Simple

The stresses and strains of modern living, combined with the ubiquity of the computer, cell phone, blackberry etc., seem to draw us in, collapsing us forward and down. So as not to smash our faces into the screen, desk, or floor (we’re very smart), our neck, upper back and shoulder muscles work harder than needed. This extra work eventually becomes habitual, even when we’re not at our desks.
When muscles work, or overwork, they shorten. So when we over tighten our neck muscles we’re rotating our heads backwards and downwards, shortening our spines and compressing our discs. Is there any wonder why we may have neck pain and back pain?

We say we have a stiff or sore neck, as if someone gave it to us and now it’s ours. In Alexander Technique terms it might be more accurate to say, “I’m stiffening my neck.” Of course if you say it that way you sound insane. ‘Just stop stiffening it’ might be advice we’d get. It isn’t that simple, or is it?

The Alexander Technique tells us to ‘free your neck’, which means reduce or eliminate excess tension in your neck. How do we do that? Tense your bicep as in ‘make a muscle.’ Now let it go. How did you do that? Who knows, but you can do it. That’s a simple demonstration of releasing unnecessary tension, which is what we want to do with our necks and other parts of us. A certain amount of tension is necessary; we’re talking about extra tension.

We want to cultivate the ability to identify what’s unconsciously, habitually overly tense, and then release it. The Alexander Technique teaches to ‘free your neck so that your head can move forward and up.’Forward can be explained in different ways, but I find that thinking of forward as a forward rotation works best. It’s a forward rotation of the head on the spine, while the crown of the head moves up. Usually you can achieve a forward rotation of your head by slightly lowering your nose.
So, slightly lower your nose, let the crown of your head move up leading your whole spine into length. Now, let yourself breathe fully.

Mark Josefsberg is a certified Alexander Technique teacher in New York. He teaches in his private studio, and at A.R.E. Center of New York

Author's Bio: 

I have been a musician and teacher for many years. While playing a job one day, I started to experience pain and numbness in my right thumb. The pain continued to worsen over the following months and finally reached a point where I had to stop playing altogether. In fact, the pain and subsequent weakness was so intense I couldn't hold a toothbrush, a razor or a comb. Ok, I have no reason to hold a comb, but just in case...

An MRI of my spine revealed bone spurs in my neck, pinching a nerve leading down to my hand. By this point the pain in my neck was now even worse than my hand. It was severe and unrelenting, and affecting every aspect of my life.
After seeing several hand surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons (who wanted to operate), chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, acupressurists, a Rolfer, massage therapists etc., I took an Alexander Technique lesson.

I learned that it was my posture and the way I was using my body that caused my problem, and realized that with the aid of an Alexander Technique teacher, I would be able to solve my own pain issues. I felt greatly empowered!
After studying the Technique for a short time the pain began to diminish. Week by week, I was feeling better and better.
I was able to resume performing and studio work with no pain or discomfort, and with more control and freedom than ever!
At the very least, the Alexander Technique saved my professional life, and made the rest of my life far more enjoyable. The Alexander Technique became as strong a love as my love for music.
As my pain disappeared, I continued studying the Alexander Technique. I came to the Technique because of the pain, but stayed because of the freedom, lightness and ease. The Alexander Technique makes you feel great.

After studying this technique privately for some years, I decided to take the 1600 hour, 3 year training course to become a full time Nationally Certified Alexander Technique teacher. I have studied with some of the most experienced Alexander teachers from the United States, Israel and England. I am ACAT* and AmSAT** Certified.

In addition to my private teaching practice, with students from all walks of life, I am a faculty member at ACAT, training future Alexander Teachers. I teach the Alexander Technique at The Collective in Manhattan. I've taught the Technique at Barnard/Columbia University's Physical Education department, and I'm the AT teacher on staff at A.R.E. Holistic Health and Wellness Center in New York City. I also teach the AT at the New York Spine Institute in Garden City, Long Island, and at Step Into Stride Physical Therapy in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I teach privately at various locations in Manhattan.

I have written several article regarding the Alexander Technique which are published online, and regularly write for
I send out an online weekly Newsletter where you can receive tips about the Alexander Technique. Please join!

*The American Center for the Alexander Technique, the oldest and probably most respected Alexander Teacher training program in the United States.

**American Society for the Alexander Technique, the governing society for Alexander Teacher training programs in the United States.