Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique (Alexander Technique Canada)
Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, 2014
Alexander Technique Instructor and faculty member in the Capilano University Theatre department, 2016-Present
Executive Co-Director of Alexander Technique Canada, 2015-2018
Bachelor of Music, 2006
Canada representative for international collaboration with Alexander Technique organizations around the world, (ATAS) 2015-18
My name is Mark Vasak, and many of my friends know me as the guy who had an arm injury, disappeared for a few years, then reappeared having overcome his injury with the side effect of 'amazing' posture. In reality, my injury was the the start of a journey to deeply learn about how awareness, posture, and movement influence our health and performance.
For the past 15 years I’ve been obsessively learning everything possible about the Alexander Technique and it’s related science with the aim of seeing how I could apply it to myself and share it with others. I’m a relentless self-experimenter and my own experiences, coupled with the work and guidance of many others, have challenged everything I thought I knew about how I engage in my daily life and activities.
How you use yourself in the activities of your life has a real (positive or negative) effect on how you function. This ripples down to affect your health, performance, and experience of life. A personal understanding of your individual habits of movement, posture, and awareness, coupled with a basic level of skill to change these for the better, can contribute to a healthier, fuller version of you in everything you do.
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My Alexander Story
Over a decade ago I developed a chronic arm injury during my music degree. For three years I tried to address my problem through both conventional medical treatment and alternative approaches with limited success. Although I received some short-term relief, each time I went to play my instrument my pain would return.
Overtime, my symptoms spread throughout my shoulder and back and began to limit my most basic movements and activities such as using my arm to wash my hair. I realized that regardless of playing my instrument, if things didn’t change I would continue to experience a life limited by these symptoms. I decided that there had to be help or tools I had overlooked; more that I could do to help myself. For me, this decision began my personal Alexander Technique journey.
Steadily and with the guidance of my teacher, I became aware of how I was limiting myself; how my own movements, postures, and reactions were perpetuating my symptoms. As my skill in applying the Alexander Technique developed I learned how to change how I used myself for the better and re-learned to engage in life and music without the onset of my symptoms. I returned to finish my Bachelor of Music and went on to work as a professional guitarist.
Because I had experienced tremendous benefits from practicing the Alexander Technique in my professional and daily life, and the continued personal growth I saw in my own health and performance, I began to learn everything I could about the science of the Alexander Technique with the aim of one day being able to contribute some of its ideas to the bigger scope of science and healthcare. I put my music career on hold and entered the second stage of my journey.
I took a distinctly cross-discipline approach, training for three years as a teacher of the Alexander Technique and studying biomedical physiology and kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. I became involved with a neuroscience lab where I explored how the brain organizes, creates, and learns movement and was tempted to continue on with research in the neurosciences, but was dissatisfied with the delay between cutting edge research and its practical application to improve people's lives. To address this, I re-directed my efforts and obtained a Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine. I graduated with two awards, the first in research and the second for the highest academic standing in the program.
Today, I teach the Alexander Technique both privately and on faculty in the Capilano University Theatre Department. I continue to create music professionally and work in Occupational Therapy. I’m deeply passionate about learning all things health, posture, and performance related; to hear where my students are coming from, what they aspire to, and to teach them to use the Alexander Technique to discover their best work and lives.