News

Alleviating Tech-Related Stress with the Alexander Technique

By Judith Muir

Illustration by Tatyana Starikova

Originally Published in Organic Hudson Valley Edition 15, April/May 2016

Alexander Technique Blogpost Picture

Whether a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop is your go-to favorite, there’s no doubt about it: technical devices are a vital part of how modern society works, plays and communicates. Unfortunately, the equipment also is a major contributor of physical and emotional stresses.

The problem lies in the repeated and often-held positions people take for extended periods of time when the use technical devices, such as hunching over, leaning to one side, or hanging their head down, the latter leaving some people with what’s now known as tech neck or text neck – the back, neck, and shoulder strain caused by dropping one’s head to view a screen. Worse, the use of technical equipment often is tied to people’s careers, intensifying their use of the devices, which furthers tension on the body, causing pain and contributing to lower emotional and mental states.

To counter the tendency to lapse into an awkward position when using technical gear, it’s helpful to be mindful of one’s posture, especially when done as part of the Alexander Technique, a practice that was developed more than a century ago by a young Australian actor, Frederick Matthias Alexander, and is based on activating the basic principles that govern human functioning and well-being.

By teaching people how to increase their body/mind awareness, switch off patterns of stress and tension, activate beneficial postural mechanisms and connect with muscular activity, the Alexander Technique can help alleviate or prevent stresses associated with everyday movements, including those related to the use of technical equipment.

Beyond physical issues, working with technical devices also has an effect on people’s emotional well-being. One working paper “iPosture: The Size of Electronic Consumer Devices Affects Our Behavior” (Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-097, May 2013), by Maarten W. Bos and Amy J.C. Cuddy, found the smaller the technical device used was, the more inward a person’s posture and attitude became, which goes against the heart of what users want from their devices in the first place: maximum communications and productivity.

By following the principles of the Alexander Technique, people can learn how to make practical changes for optimal movement, productivity, and well-being, including the best way to hold and use devices and other equipment, plus ideal sitting, bending, standing, and walking postures, thereby avoiding discomfort and pain. In fact, reports show that practicing the Alexander Technique not only improves one’s physical condition, but also emotional and mental states, resulting in heightened self-esteem, productivity, and social connections.

Whatever your favorite technical device is, there’s no need to sacrifice health for productivity. By being aware of the way you interact with your gear and acting on the essential principles of movement and well-being, productivity and wellness are within grasp.

IMH Featured Again in Poughkeepsie Journal

Michael Brenner photo
Student Michael Brenner, left, and Peter Muir work during a session at the Institute for Music and Health in Verbank. / Darryl Bautista/Poughkeepsie Journal

We’re proud to announce that our work with people with disabilities has once again been featured in the Poughkeepsie Journal. This wonderful article, by Lauren Yanks, focuses on our students with autism, such as Michael Brenner, pictured below.

The article can be found here.

Want to see more of Michael singing? Then click here to his very own page on our website.

Want to find out more about our unique music programs for people with disabilities, including the Singing Songbirds? Then click here.

IMH Featured in Poughkeepsie Journal

Niklas Watkins photo
Niklas Watkins, 13, of LaGrange, performs with Singing Songbirds, a chorus for people with disabilities, during a concert Dec. 7 at LaGrange Middle School. / Karl Rabe/Poughkeepsie Journal

We’re proud to announce that our work with people with disabilities has been featured in the Poughkeepsie Journal. This wonderful article, by Sarah Bradshaw, focuses on our student Niklas Watkins and his part in the recent concert of our Singing Songbirds chorus for people with disabilities.

The article can be found here.

Want to see more of Niklas singing? Then click here to his very own page on our website.

Want to find out more about our unique music programs for people with disabilities, including the Singing Songbirds? Then click here.

Singing Songbirds photo
Singing Songbirds, a chorus for people with disabilities, hold a concert Wednesday, December, 7, 2011, at LaGrange Middle School. / Karl Rabe

“So Many Smiling Faces”: Interactive Concert a Big Success

Our unique Interactive Concert given by our students with disabilities for people with disabiliies at New Horizons in Pleasant Valley on May 17th drew a large and appreciative crowd. Our heartfelt thanks goes out everyone involved: all fourteen of the performers, the staff at New Horizons, who did so much to help and generously allow use of their wonderful resources, and to our staff and assistants. To you all a really big thank you. We hope to do this again real soon!

An appreciative parent emailed us:
“I just wanted to thank you for a delightful evening. There was a great turnout and the audience participation was heartwarming. So many smiling faces; singing and clapping along to familiar songs. Some were even dancing!

The program was so well organized and provided a venue for the many “STARS” to shine! You definitely know the population well: you started and ended right on time and the movement from one talent to the next was managed brilliantly!

This was an opportunity for my daughter and her housemates to share in a fun activity together and create memories. We loved sharing it with them as well .

I have such respect and gratitude for your extraordinary talent and ENORMOUS hearts!!!”
– Gail Saderholm

One of the “STARS” Gail writes about is Michael Brenner, a young adult with disabilities. Here he is at the concert giving a soulful rendition of “Yesterday.”

For more on Michael, see here