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  Alexander Technique Cheshire


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Primary Control and Stress Response
November 2012
In this Issue
Primary Control and Stress
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It has been a long time since my last newsletter and I am glad to be back. I am glad to be back to a more regular schedule than the one I had during the months of September and October. And I am glad to be back with you here.
I am not sure how many of you were recipients of an accidental invitation to Skype with me. I would like to apologize for this technical glitch. Actually only very few friends responded with some disbelief to that invite.
You all knew better: the Alexander Technique teacher uses touch and gentle words to educate the student's psychophysical whole; I can assure you that I still teach the Alexander Technique only while physically present and preferrably with the help of my hands.
Warm regards,
Michaela Hauser-Wagner

Primary Control and Stress


A review of my last newsletter: In order to understand the concept of Primary Control one needs to become familiar with the connection between head and neck.  Primary Control is far more than an anatomical concept, but this is where we begin.


The Atlanto-Occipital Joint is located on the underside of the skull: between the Atlas (the first vertebra on top of the spine) and the Occiput (the part of the head that forms the back and underside of the skull).


Do you remember how to access the place where your head rests on the spine, the atlanto-occipital joint? We cannot feel this area, nor can we touch it, except with our thoughts and imagination.


First, imagine a connection between your two ears and gently rotate your head forward and back to neutral around this axis. Then add a thought of 'up' to this forward rotation? Remember that after some more physical experimentation you will imagine the movement more than doing it. Again, think of this area between your ears and ask yourself to be free in the neck, to release the head in this forward and up direction.

forward and up
forward and up


Now that we have enlivened this anatomical space let's consider the larger implications of Primary Control: improvement of our whole psychophysical use, conscious control over the way we go about things - big topics to be sure.


F. M. Alexander writes about The Primary Control, that it "governs the working of all the mechanisms and so renders the control of the complex human organism comparatively simple."


I would like to offer a different segue into the understanding of Primary Control: From the perspective of our emotional reactions I have come to think of all interference with a freely balanced head as a form, of "fear response". Please imagine for a moment a terribly loud noise throwing your whole system out of equilibrium. Or put yourself in a more permanent place of anxiety. What is happening in your head-neck-back relationship? How would you play fear, angst, shock, insecurity or the like on stage? I would argue that in all your playacting explorations you have used an element of shortening and fixing of neck muscles. You have pulled your head back and down, you have shortened your neck and narrowed your back - you have interfered with an optimal organization of your Primary Control mechanism.


In my students and in myself I can observe that even the smallest stimulus has the potential to cause us to react with a form of fear response; we tighten the neck and hold the breath. Considering the amount of stress every human being encounters on a daily level, simple obstacles like commuting in heavy traffic or being in a hurry, we can safely assume that we are constantly and unconsciously interfering with our Primary Control in some form that resembles a fear response.


In Alexander Technique lessons you learn to notice, accept, compare and self-regulate.

Very recently I was invited to become a contributing specialist at; you can read my first blog entry here by scrolling back to November 6.

 Additional teaching space in Middletown at

Yoga in Middletown will again be available in the fall, as well as occasionally space in Guilford. Lessons need to be booked and scheduled with Michaela at or by calling 203-271-3525.


On Saturday November 17 veteran math teacher Ruth Sullo and I are facilitating an all day retreat, inspired by  Michael Gelb's book "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci". We will spend a day of exploration together, showing you ways to discover your multipotentiality. You might find talents you may not even know you have. According to Gelb, Leonardo has given us seven principles of thinking. We will use these to venture into the areas of creativity, math and drawing. Learning skills in one of these areas can enhance how the brain operates in the others. Find out how to shift between the left and right sides of your brain and expand your abilities. Each section of the workshop will begin with peaceful mind-body integration practices, drawn from the Alexander Technique. please email me for more information, I will send you our brochure.


I am inviting you to watch the new video that the American Society for the Alexander Technique has created to educate the public. I would be interested in your comments, whether you are a student with background or experience in the Technique or whether you are a potentially interested newcomer.


Are you wondering if you have prepaid lessons with me? Send me an email or give me a call to find out. As you know, I will be honoring those indefinitely, but if you wish, please let me know and I will send you a check with your refund.