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  Alexander Technique Cheshire


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On Sleep and Sleeping Positions
July 2014
In this Issue
Sleeping Habits
How to Rest Better
Reading in Bed
Announcements: NEW Saturday Intro to AT in Cheshire
Quick Links


This is networking at its best! Deciding to resend my sleeping newsletter from January 2013 came easily to me after one student told me that IKEA offers small contour pillows for around $ 10 and another student showed me how he experiments with his shoulder ache at night. These days you can see me walk around my neighborhood with a pillow under my arm to show a friend how this might help and if you come to my practice, you might end up with a little introduction to snooze!
Best wishes for a restful summer,
Michaela Hauser-Wagner
Sleeping Habits: A little bed time story from Michaela
For years I have been very happy with my contour pillow. Yet over the past several months I had noticed that my neck was not comfortable at 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.
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.


Another way to use your (new) contour pillow was described to me by one of my students: in order to relieve pressure on your shoulder when you sleep on your side, you can put a pillow under your rib cage and rest your head on a separate pillow. This way the arm drops more freely down between two pillows towards the mattress without your body's weight on it. 


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.

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 parachuting are two entirely different activities (believe me, I tried both).   


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 Caplan's book Back Trouble speak for themselves and emphasize the principle I mentioned before


On Saturday, August 2, at 6 PM on the New Haven Green, The New Haven Symphony Orchestra Jazz Group will be opening for the Brubeck Brothers Quartet with an all-Gershwin program that includes hot summer tunes like Someone to Watch Over Me, Fascinating Rhythym, I Got Rhythm, The Man I Love, and Embraceable You. The highlight of the program will be Scenes from Porgy and Bess, with its immortal song Summertime. The main concert with the Brubeck Brothers should be great fun, as well!


Too few people know about Topsmead State Forest and Estate near Litchfield, CT! Go for a nature walk, a picnic or watch birds in a peaceful old rural landscape.



Saturday, September 6, 10:45-12AM, Introduction to the Alexander Technique in my new Cheshire studio, $ 10. Space is truly limited to 5 people, so please contact me by calling 203-988-8344 or by email.


Monday, November 3, 6:30 to 7:30 PM: Back Pain Solutions at the Berlin-Peck Library in Berlin, CT


Thursday, November 6, 7 to 8 PM: Alexander Technique and Scoliosis at Thyme and Season Natural Food Market in Hamden, CT


I am inviting you to watch a video that the American Society for the Alexander Technique, AmSAT, has created to educate the public and would be interested in your comments.