Alexander Technique

Active Rest

(Only English version available)

Some years ago I had several Alexander Technique sessions with Maria Vahervuo.

Maria (from Helsinki, Finland) got introduced to the Alexander Technique (AT) at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She got interested in the AT, because of the effect it had not only on her playing as a musician, but also on her life, emotions and well-being.

Therefore Maria decided to study Alexander Technique herself. She now has become a passionate teacher, continuously broadening her knowledge in the field of AT and adjacent studies (and still being a musician!). Find out more about Maria here.

From the sessions with Maria I learnt among others about the Active Rest ‘ exercise’. I really love this exercise as I feel it relaxes my back and my whole body! Therefore I wanted to share this one with you and asked Maria to write about it:-).  

If you are interested to find out more about Alexander Technique, please contact Maria by email: or visit her website:

I can highly recommend her as she is a (com)passionate and professional teacher with a lót of knowledge!

Maria’s article:

Active Rest
Active Rest, also called Constructive Rest or Alexander Technique lie down, is a mindful lie down for 10 – 20 minutes in a semi-supine position. Active Rest is a good way to help restore suppleness and realignment of the spine, and to reconnect the relationship between your mind and body.

Our nervous system is tuned in to register change. When we get accustomed to a certain amount of tension, we hardly notice it any more. Learning to release tension in an awake and alert state will help you to become faster recognizing habitual patterns and tension in action.

The semi-supine position (see picture) gives the best support and rest for your back. Regular practice of lying down in semi-supine position provides optimal spinal alignment and is good for people suffering from musculoskeletal complaints like neck or back pain.

Together with the physical benefits, the daily Active Rest will give you time to be aware of yourself, to quieten your mind and help you to stop for a moment. It is also a great way to learn focused attention, which plays an important role in emotion regulation, memory functioning and psychological well-being.

Primary Directions
Find a firm, and comfortable surface to lie on, for example, a yoga mat or carpet.

Put a towel or a few books under your head so that your head is not tilting backward, neither is your chin pressing against the chest.

Keep your eyes open and stay aware of the surroundings without reacting to it.

  • Feel the support of the ground and the breath moving your ribs
  • Allow your neck to be free, head releasing (away from the body) into the direction of the spine
  • Allow your spine to lengthen and back to widen
  • Allow your knees to go away from the hip joints
  • Repeat gently

Dos and Don’ts
If you find tension in your body, well done for noticing it. Do not try to change it, just notice it and refrain from emotional labeling good/bad, wanted/unwanted etc.

After simply noticing, give the area a permission to have more space and bring your focus back to the primary directions.

If you find it difficult to stay awake, use a bell or sound during the Active Rest to help you stay awake and focused. Or you can use the audio link below. This will make the exercise a bit like a guided meditation and at the same time you will get many more directions.

Remember to keep your eyes open and stay aware of the environment (sounds, visual information, contact to the ground) as well as yourself at the same time.

It takes some practice to find a way of balancing the legs so that the knees stay up without holding muscular tension in the hip joints and/or legs. You can also rest the knees against each other, or have your lower legs resting on a chair, or place a cushion under the knees.

For more questions please do not hesitate to contact me:

Maria Vahervuo