Certified Alexander Technique teacher 1600+ hours (Alexander Technique Canada)
Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, 2014
Instructor, Capilano University Theatre department, 2016-Present
Bachelor of Music, 2006
Executive Co-Director of Alexander Technique Canada, 2015-2018
Canadian representative for the International Alexander Technique Affiliated Societies, 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 start of a journey in which I overcame my issue and deeply explored how movement, postures and the ways we embody ourselves in action relate to my health and performance.
For the past 17 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 so many others, have challenged everything I thought I knew about how I engage in my daily life and activities.
If you're interested in reducing excess strain in your life and work, improving posture, reducing risk or perpetuation of musculoskeletal injury including back pain or repetitive use injuries, or simply enhancing your physical and mental performance, I think you’ll find my journey interesting and hopefully illuminating.
How you engage in your actives can have a real (positive or negative) effect on your health, performance, and experience of yourself as you engage in your life. We all give this idea lip-service, but rarely do we have the skill necessary to actually change these deeply engrained ways of going about our lives. A personal understanding of your individual habits of movement, posture, and reaction, coupled with a basic level of skill to stop off what you don’t want and encourage what you do want, (all driven by growth towards your potential), can contribute to a real improvement in your health, performance, and self-growth. This site, and my teaching practice are part of my attempt to bring this education and practice to you.
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 as faculty in the Capilano University Theatre Department. I continue to create music professionally and to work in Occupational Therapy. I’m deeply passionate about learning all things movement, 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 selves.