Let The Alexander Technique Relieve Tension And Stress

Aug 4, 2010 by

The Alexander Technique for Stress reliefThe Alexander Technique and Stress Reduction

In Alexander Technique lessons, I often use the words let and allow, as in allow your neck to be free, or let your head lead your spine into length. Alexander Technique teachers often say allow your entire ribcage to contract and expand as you breathe, and allow your sit bones to release down into the chair. Let your torso gently spiral as you walk, allow your jaw to release, let the Alexander Technique relieve tension and stress, and countless other examples of allowing… letting…

If we need to allow things to happen, perhaps we unconsciously disallow them from happening. The disallowing has become habitual.

The Alexander Technique and Tension

We unconsciously shorten, narrow, compress, grip, tighten, and hold. It’s unconscious because nobody purposefully lives with their necks tensed and shortened, bringing their shoulders up around their ears. Have you ever noticed you feel better in almost every way when you’re on vacation? It might not be because of what you’re doing; it might be because of what you’re not doing.

We may continue harmful patterns of tension until something or someone makes us aware of them. This awareness may occur because we notice our bad posture in a photo or video, we start to experience pain, or we take an Alexander Technique lesson.

We usually don’t allow our necks to be free. This disallowing, or tightening may occur 24 hours a day (yes, even during sleep.) It becomes “normal” to walk around (and sit around) with lots of excess tension. The good news is that with Alexander’s Techniques we can learn to form new habits. We can learn how to just be. We can learn to let go of our tightening muscles. We do it all the time when we exercise; every time we put down a heavy weight.

F.M. Alexander said if we stop doing the wrong things, the right things will do themselves. Adding extra stress and tension to everything we do is one of those ‘wrong things’.

Mark Josefsberg-Alexander Technique NYC

Mark@Mark Josefsberg.com



  1. Great post Mark!

    Have you ever experimented with negative directions? So, instead of “allow my neck to be free” “I am not tensing (constricting, tightening – whatever) my neck”

    There’s more at http://bodylearningcast.com/teachers/negativedirections/

    • Thanks Robert! I have experimented with that, and some Alexander Technique teachers I know use negative directions quite a lot. I’ll hear teachers say ‘say NO to tightening.”
      For me, it might make me tighten more, or get down on myself which kind of defeats the purpose. sometimes negative directions can be…negative. I think it’s highly individualized depending on both the teacher and the student. Whatever works! There are so many styles teaching this technique. Do you agree?

  2. Peter

    Great post as usual, Mark. It always amazes me how quickly neck pain I once thought of as chronic can just dissolve quickly when I follow a few Alexander Technique concepts.

  3. Bill

    This was another great post. After about a year on the Technique with only one lesson in the summer, I’ve found it to greatly lessen back pain while piano playing. But improvement in playing is not coming nearly as fast as I thought it would. Also, mainly from the lesson, I’ve found that the primary control is a more important direction than I’d originally thought

    • Mark Josefsberg

      Hey Bill,
      Thanks. I’m glad you’re benefitting from the Alexander Technique. Greatly lessening back pain is a pretty big thing! Primary control is a concept, and directions are where you want to go. You’re absolutely right that primary control is well-named, right? On instruments like the piano we poke our necks forward. And now; we are all keyboard players.

  4. Bill


    Your commentaries are always quite helpful. While an infrequent drinker, I have used the A technique to get relief from hangovers.


    • Mark Josefsberg

      That’s a benefit of the Alexander Technique I don’t hear about very often!

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