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  Alexander Technique Cheshire


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On Sleep and Sleeping Positions
February 2013
In this Issue
Sleeping Habits
How to Rest Better
Reading in Bed
Quick Links


As New England was recovering from a Blizzard and most people were hunkered down for days, I realized that the middle of February is my very last chance this winter to write about sleeping or reading in bed, activities in which we might indulge more during the season of hibernation.
The sap in trees is flowing up, we have experienced warmer temperatures and are enjoying longer days and sometimes beautiful clear sun light.
One argument however is that the quality of sleep and questions about sleeping positions is not a seasonal topic.
Warm Regards,
Michaela Hauser-Wagner
Sleeping Habits: A little bed time story from Michaela
For years I am very happy with my contour pillow. Yet over the past several months I had noticed that my neck was not comfortable during the night and that my neck or arms were hurting in the morning. Even as a good sleeper you can make observations and adjustments at night. I somehow knew I had options, but other than consciously switching between sleeping on my right and on my left side and telling my neck to let go of tension so that my head could release away, I did not make many changes. Then one evening I made the momentous decision to turn my contour pillow, so that I would rest my head no longer on the lower edge and instead give my cervical spine more support by resting on the higher side. Bingo! I noticed all throughout that first night, what a good decision that was and wondered several times, why it took me so long to try that simple modification, although I had intuitively known, in which way my head-neck-spine alignment was off.
What am I learning from this experience?
  • that I am habituated and reluctant to make a small change
  • that I have to reason myself into a new experience
  • that I am still intuitively connected to myself, realize my physical need and am able to make changes - however long it might take
  • that I have no idea why the pillow wasn't comfortable any longer in its previous position and that I do not need to know the reason
  • that our bodies change and sometimes ache
  • that we find solutions when we stick to the search.

How to Rest Better


Sooner or later I ask almost all my students on which side they prefer to sleep, because I realized at some point that we tend to sleep on the side that hurts - or rather: the side we sleep on tends to hurt. Could it simply be that we are weighing down night after night on that poor right hip or left shoulder?

  • switch sides!

Another consideration for side-sleepers is the slanting and shifting of your 'upper' side. Let's say, you sleep on your left side and have problems with your right shoulder, neck or upper arm area. In this case you don't want that right arm to drag down all the way in front of your torso towards the mattress.

  • put a pillow in front of you, on which you can rest your arm!

Likewise the weight of your 'upper' thigh might pull on that 'upper' hip.

  • put a pillow between your knees!

This last advice is also helpful if the weight of one knee is painfully pressing down onto the other.


If you like to sleep on your stomach, go for it! But you need a relatively firm mattress so that your pelvis doesn't sag and create a severe forward drop in the lower back. Try to switch the side to which your head is turning, ask yourself to release muscles all around your turning neck. If you turn your head to your left side, bring the left arm up as if you would look at your left hand, some people like to draw their left knee up as well. On the other side, if your head is turned to the right, bend your right arm, as if looking at your right hand, maybe bending your right knee.


Last but not least: give yourself the directions to

  • open your hands, flatten your palms, lengthen your fingers
  • let your tongue and jaw go

Both patterns are formed in infancy as part of our survival instinct: to hold on and to suck - for life. Conscious mental self-direction over instinctive behaviors is the approach the Alexander Technique chooses to gain an element of control and adapted well-being.


The basic rule is support; support means safety. Body parts can only release if they experience safe ground, because our fear reflexes are preventing us from releasing into nothingness. Making contact with the supporting surface of your mattress and skydiving are two entirely different activities (believe me, I tried both).   

This image of a student in crouch (Child pose) illustrates how - aside from sleeping positions -  we are gaining muscle length and joint mobility through proper support, not by forcing ourselves into positions.


Your feedback and questions are always welcome.

Wishing you a Good Night!

Reading in Bed
This topic is too important to go unmentioned here. The images from Deborah Kaplan's book Back Trouble speak for themselves and emphasize the principle I mentioned before:

 Additional teaching space in Middletown as well as some Saturday hours in Guilford are available. Lessons need to be arranged with Michaela at or by calling 203-271-3525.


Spring Classes:

Back Health - Posture - Balance, five Tuesdays, beginning March 12, 6:30 - 7:45
Your Voice Resides Inside Your Body, Tuesdays May 14 and 21, 6:30 - 8:30
Osher Life Long Learning Institute in Waterbury: Alexander Technique, March 8 to April 5
Come to the Healthy Family FunFest, February 24, Aqua Turf Club, 10:30-3:30


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.