Sleep is the great restorer. We often take it for granted until we are lying awake longing for it’s arrival.
Being conscious of posture in bed can be conducive to a good night’s sleep as well as useful for your posture during the day.
There are many reasons for insomnia and I am not saying the Alexander Technique is the only answer for entering the land of deep sleep and dreams. What it can do is help you relax and unwind the physical tensions that contribute to the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
When you first get in bed, let your body lengthen out. Exhale out to your finger tips and toes. Give your body the instruction to relax the neck. Let your body unwind by reminding yourself to exhale and let go of any holding. Feel gravity help you by letting yourself relax into your bed. Let go of holding yourself in any place in your body.
Lie on your back and have a pillow under your head (not too high), a small support under your knees, and just exhale. Notice any tension in your body. Remember your body is always trying to inform you of what is going on, so this is a good time to listen. Don’t try to change anything, just allow what is there to be acknowledged.
Go through your body starting at your head, noticing any tensions and exhaling, letting go as best you can. Don’t try to change anything, just let go, moving on down to your shoulders, again exhaling any tightness in your shoulders and upper back. Continue on down your back to your pelvis, noticing tension in the lower back and imagining it leaving your body, exhaling as you move down your legs to your feet.
Now starting at the midline of your body, take a breath in and as you exhale think of the breath going out your fingers and toes and the top of your head. Let your body expand as you exhale, letting go of the sense of separation between you and the air around you.
Do this at least 3 or 4 times. Notice how you feel.
A chi gong exercise is to use your tongue to make circles inside your mouth: start on the middle of your left cheek, go up across the across the roof of your mouth and down the middle of your right cheek. Do this 9 times.
Also let yourself yawn or make yourself yawn. This can be done by taking several short breaths in and then exhaling. Yawning is very important; here is some useful information about yawning.
There is a wonderful Chi Gong meditation called Bone Dreaming. I like it because it works with sensing your bones and letting them move. When your attention is directed that way, the relaxation is deep and sleep can come. I have used it for sleep, as well as resting and unwinding. Click here to visit the website for Giles Marin (scroll down to find “The Bone Dreaming Meditation”).
Often the inability to sleep happens when we are too wound up and over-stimulated. Alexander directions of freeing the neck and letting go of tension so the body can lengthen and widen can provide a calming sensation. Sense the occiput moving away from the sacrum, creating a lengthening along the spine.
Ideally you sleep on your back but you can use these instructions if you are a side sleeper. If you sleep on your side make sure your head and neck are supported so that the head doesn’t drop lower than your shoulder. Also it is best not to curl into a C shape but keep the occiput and sacrum in the line, in the same plane. Side sleepers also generally do better if they use a pillow between their knees. This way the hips will stay aligned and the pelvis will not be twisted.
For back sleepers using a small pillow under the kness can eliminate strain from the lower back.
Hopefully you will be able to make use of these ideas on getting yourself to relax and enter a deep sleep! And if all else fails, check out how your ancestors slept.
Have a good Labor Day weekend and let me know what you discover about sleep and Alexander Technique.
All the Best,