Ten years ago I began doing the Alexander technique. My job was very stressful, and a friend suggested it. In my family we get what we call “the neck thing” which is a painful knot in the neck and shoulders caused by scrunching up one’s shoulders in reaction to stress from the environment. When I began Alexander, I got the neck thing less and less, and now I rarely if ever get it. Body positioning and use can cause many related problems in all parts of the body. One does not realize how one is even using the body—for example—-curving the back, hunching over the computer, not sitting up straight, contracting the abdomen. Body awareness is one of the marvelous benefits of the Alexander technique. By using the body in correct ways, many problems can be eliminated. Stress can cause one to use the body in harmful ways.
I remember going into an Alexander session feeling like a scrunched up piece of paper, and coming out all smooth and unfolded. Athletes and performers of all kinds can benefit from the Alexander technique–proper breathing, expanding the rib cage, lengthening, all these can work miracles, not to mention staving off things related to aging, such as getting shorter in height–who wants to do that?
Many dancers do or teach the Alexander technique because they have to use their bodies as their instrument, and they cannot have a bad back or hip or whatever. They must be in good shape to perform. And really, don’t we all? I am a fairly good amateur tennis player, and keeping my body in the best shape is essential. I have done yoga, massage, lifting weights—you name it–but the Alexander technique has rescued my body from several bad habits that were limiting my performance. I recommend it as essential for everybody–it will help you live a better life.
Nancy Casey, President, Casey Consulting Group
I reached my full height (5′ 7″) in 5th grade, so I started to slump and continued doing so throughout my teens. By the time I was an adult, I felt fine about my height, but what had started out as a choice was now a deeply ingrained habit that I found it impossible to break on my own. Alexander lessons have made a huge positive difference in my day to day life as I sit, stand, and walk with comfort. When I catch sight of my reflection in a mirror or store window, I see a woman with good posture. Yes!!!
Christine A. Jenkins, Associate Professor and Director
The Center for Children’s Books
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I had experienced repetitive neck pain for a number of months before finally taking my wife’s suggestion to visit her massage therapist. After a session with Gretchen, I felt much better. She suggested that I meet with her husband, Jeff. She felt a long term solution to my pain might be accomplished by correcting some issues with my posture.
Within a few lessons working with Jeff, I was sitting up at my desk, walking taller, and in general utilizing my body movements more effectively. I learned the proper way to get up and sit down and climb in and climb out of different environments. Not surprisingly my pain was gone, and I was feeling better in general. Benefits of the lessons appeared that I had never considered.
I travel extensively. I found by focusing on the things I learned during my Alexander lessons that upon arrival after a long flight, I no longer felt so tired. We applied the techniques to my golf swing and my game began to improve. I found this fascinating because Jeff didn’t have a working knowledge of the golf swing, he did however understand the mechanics of how the body should move. People asked me if I lost weight. I noticed a difference in how I appeared in pictures. The list goes on.
I encourage you to visit Jeff and enjoy an Alexander lesson. After four years I still find our sessions to be relaxing and refreshing. I’m still pain free and still finding new applications for Alexander in my daily life.
John Rollins, President/Owner of Central Illinois Produce and its affiliate divisions though out the Midwest; Past Chair of the Champaign Chamber of Commerce
When I first met Jeff, I was recovering from a very traumatic leg fracture, and was just starting to walk with a cane after three months in a wheelchair. With Jeff’s encouragement and skill, I learned to use the cane as an assistive device, not a “crutch”, and reclaimed my ability to ambulate. Since then, I have used the techniques Jeff has taught me to manage stress, by being more conscious of which areas of my body carry stress. My skill as a singer has improved just by understanding the relationship between my body and my breathing. I am 61 years old – osteo-arthritis is very prevalent in my family, but with Jeff’s help, I walk, sit and stand in a way that belies my age.
Nancy Utz, MSN, RN Manager, Quality Excellence Department Clarian North Medical Center Carmel, Indiana Part of the Clarian Health System Member, Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society; Indiana Association of Heathcare Quality
I suffered back and leg pain for thirty years after a fall. I tried many therapies, including physical therapy, injections, chiropractic treatments, and surgery. I only found lasting relief after taking Alexander Technique lessons given by Jeff Tessler. I feel better today than I have in years.
Elaine Rockett, Come Home to Dinner Personal Chef Service.
“I began taking Alexander lessons from Jeff Tessler in 1990. I immediately began to experience less physical pain as I learned how to be more conscious in my use of my body. I find that Jeff’s teaching style enables me to incorporate my new learnings into my daily work, so that I look and feel healthier, and I am stronger and more effective as a storyteller and teacher.”
– B.B., librarian, teacher and storyteller, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“I’m almost seventy. I tell my friends and family that I walk out of lessons feeling like a fifteen year old, spring and lightness to my walk, better posture and balance. Now that’s something! Also, it is helping a lot with the stiffness and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.”
– C.F., retired postal worker, antique dealer, Champaign, Illinois
“I came to Alexander Technique lessons for back trouble and to improve my acting. It’s helped my back and I am a more flexible actress. I can reach further for the character and am taking on musicals. A side benefit is that I consistently beat my husband at tennis.”
– S.B., actress, winner “CIVI” award for outstanding performance in a drama, Indianapolis, Indiana
“Nothing is more frustrating for us musicians than when the body gets in the way of the music we’re longing to express. Indeed, musicians must master some of the most refined and complex movements of any profession. By developing body use which is less tense and rigid, more fluid and lively, the Alexander Technique complements the work that musicians do in the teaching studio and practice room. In my own work with Jeff Tessler, I’ve found him to be acutely attuned to the needs of performing artists.”
– C.J., D.Phil., Professor of Music, Greencastle, IN
“Sharp back pains, tendonitis, muscle spasms, and nerve damage forced an end to my piano practice and musical hopes at an early age. Fortunately, I encountered the Alexander Technique, which has since guided me towards efficient, healthy, injury-preventive practice. In practice, it teaches one to consistently find the most direct, facilitated connection to the instrument. This training importantly transfers into the teaching of any musical instrument, and thus, helps to pre- vent a new generation of performance-based injuries. The AT training integrates understanding and trust of movements—and whether it’s anxiety about walking and standing on stage, actually performing, or just walking down the street, this trust has allowed me to move past these anxieties, to fully direct both body and mind towards happier, more enlivened performance.”
– S.G., Pianist, Germany
“I first learned about the Alexander Technique through Frank Pierce Jones’s book “Body Awareness in Action: AStudy of the Alexander Technique”, which reviewed Dr. Jones’s laboratory research into the biomechanical and physiological principles underlying the Technique. At the time I was on the fencing team at the University of Pennsylvania and was highly motivated to improve my fencing skills. Fencing is fundamentally a problem of sensory-motor integration. The key challenge is to maintain awareness and control of your own body, while simultaneously monitoring your opponent’s actions so as to respond appropriately. Any competitive fencer is all too well aware of F.M. Alexander’s observation that knowing what you want to do is not the same as being able to do it. My lessons with Jeff Tessler contributed to a dramatic improvement in my competitive results, and also alleviated a number of sports-related chronic injuries that I suffered from.
“Sixteen years later, my training with Jeff continues to be of great benefit to me after retiring from competitive fencing in order to focus on a career in scientific research. I recently completed my Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, and am currently a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. I’ve found the Alexander Technique to be an extremely valuable tool for avoiding fatigue and maintaining mental focus and energy.”
– D.M., Ph.D., Competitive fencer and Neuroscientist, Boston & Washington D.C.
“Initially, I began studying Alexander Technique with Jeff Tessler to improve my posture and performance while playing the pipe organ. In the course of the lessons, I have found that the principles can be applied to all aspects of everyday life. Jeff’s supportive lessons in Alexander Technique have not only improved my physical approach to music making, but also my overall confidence, poise and well-being.”