Photo of bodywork session
Alexander technique and cranio-sacral therapy can help ease tension in the body

Helping your body to deal with stress

17 November, 2011

“The way you move affects how you think.  How you think affects how you move, which affects how you feel.  If you change one, you’ll change them all.” *

From before our birth to after our death, the only constant in our lives is our bodies, and yet all our lives we try to “overcome” them or get rid of their manifestations instead of listening to them.

Where do we have feelings, where do we have thoughts?  In our bodies.

We live and work in an increasingly demanding and stressful environment.  Over time the effects of this can start to build up in our bodies and we begin to exhibit symptoms of excess tension and stress.  Stress in itself is not necessarily a problem. What matters is simply how we deal with it.

Health may be defined as:  The body’s ability to constructively deal with all the stresses to which it is subjected.

The effects of stress on the body these can range from insomnia to digestive problems, from full blown panic attacks to general hypersensitivity.  In other words, these are all physical symptoms that manifest in the body.

Interestingly, the causes of these symptoms could be either internal or external and vary enormously from one person to another.  What seems to be common is the sense of powerlessness that comes with that stress.

It does not matter how we begin body to help the body deal with those stresses. It could be simply with an attitude of mental quietness and calm and allow it to radiate out into our muscles,

Likewise the pleasant calming sensations of bodywork to engender that same mental peacefulness.  Bodywork, such as Alexander technique and a Cranio-sacral therapy, can become a vital tools helping to re-educate and re-programme our bodies into becoming more co-ordinated, more flexible and more appropriately responsive – literally more intelligent.

Integrating body and mind in this fashion will be more able to resist depression or disease, more able to attend to and repair itself in times of stress or injury.

The Alexander technique is a unique and practical method of becoming aware of how we use our minds and our bodies in daily activity.  Through a series of lessons we begin to recognize and prevent habits of tension and change habits in our everyday activities.  It is a simple and practical way in which to improve ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination.  In time we can begin to think in a way that frees us from learned belief, tension and fear.

Cranio-sacral therapy is simply one of the quietest therapies imaginable.  It offers a much needed stillness to the body and to the mind which can enable the release of long standing patterns of tension.

With either technique the therapist’s first tasks is to invite you to be aware of how your body actually feels. Are you tightening your neck, do you feel tension in your abdomen, is your shoulder still and painful, can you feel your feet? By slowly inhabiting our own body we can begin to see just how stress is affecting us.  The next step is to start the process of releasing it.

Most people’s unconscious habits take them in a direction of ever increasing tension, fear and rigidity as they age.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  You don’t have to stiffen and become less mobile.  You don’t have to become forced in your behaviour and beliefs.  You can learn to inhibit and direct, to use these tools to enable you to change and respond ever more appropriately and adaptively in each moment”.*

And, frankly, why wouldn’t you want to do that? It’s time to find out what your body is saying to you.


  • Daška Hatton is an Alexander technique teacher and Cranio-sacral therapist.
  • *Quotes from Missy Vineyard, Alexander Technique teacher, trainer, author, and the Director of the Alexander Technique Center of New England