Sleep is beautiful, restorative and, all too often in modern life, an indulgence.
And those who are getting too little sleep will know only too well how hard life becomes without it.
Sleep can be torn away from us for many reasons: the arrival of tiny feet in a family, long work hours, big life changes or an intense social life.
But usually it is not these external factors, but rather our own minds and habits that are causing the barrier to sleep.
Relaxation is the key to sleep
Here are some simple things you can do to help relax:
– Don’t drink caffeine after 4pm (it stays in your system and can leave you wired for many hours after)
– Switch off your screens. The flicker from digital screens activates our stress responses. So whatever your screen of choice – TV, mobile, computer – switch them off at least 30 minutes before you go to bed and don’t start Tweeting or updating your Facebook status when you wake in the night!
– Breathe. Simple but oh so incredibly important. Once you start you will realise how precious being aware of your breath is
– Yoga. A gentle yoga practice before bed, and if you wake in the night, is ideal for calming and clearing the mind, aiding the all important relaxation response. Had many hours of lying in bed with your body tense and the mind racing? Get up and relax with some yoga, then return to bed ready to sleep
Simple Inversion | Sarvangasana 1
Inversions are wonderful for calming and clearing the mind, last thing at night, or even during the night when you wake.
This is a simple and achievable posture that is easy to remember and can be practised pretty much anywhere. I have even done this when on a camping holiday, using the side of the car instead of a wall!
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor
- Interlock your hands behind your head
- Breathe in and as you breathe out draw your elbows together, lifting your head from the floor
- This stretches out your neck and spine ready for the inversion
- Fold a blanket so that is the length of your torso (hips to shoulders)
- Place the blanket against a clear bit of wall (or door or wardrobe)
- Sit sideways on the blanket, with one shoulder up against the wall and position your hips as close as you can to the wall
- Lie down along the blanket and manoeuvre yourself around so that your legs are upright on the wall and your buttocks are resting against the base of the wall
- Open your arms at right angles to your torso, and no higher than your shoulders
- Breathe and relax in this position
If your legs won’t go straight up against the wall, place your feet flat on the wall and bend your knees slightly. If your hamstrings are tight it might take a while before you can put your legs flat.
Start with five minutes in this position and build up to longer sessions. Don’t go into an inversion for too long the first time as the venous return (the flow of blood back towards the heart) can be quite powerful and make you feel lightheaded.
This posture is great for relaxing and it also helps to recover from standing or sitting for a long time and for varicose veins.
It is even ideal for those of you who exercise late in the evening (evening runners I’m looking at you!) and find it hard to wind down on your return home.
Give it a try next time you need to relax and get a good night’s sleep and let me know how you get on!
Want more yoga to help with sleep?
Want to see how this is done?
Come to one of my classes or workshops in Bingley, Keighley, Leeds and London. See my timetable to find one at a time and place that suits you
Or why not have a private yoga session to work on things that are specific to you?
Email me to discuss private yoga sessions for 1 to 4 people on firstname.lastname@example.org