Restore Your Sleep in 2020
The holidays are over, and the new year is upon us and many people set a resolution during this time to be healthier. While this goal is admirable, most New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten by the middle of February. Most people choose a resolution that is to large or nebulous to succeed. There is no specific direction, or the task just seems too overwhelming. No worries, Bliss Yoga Studio is here to help! Each month, we will focus on one topic from the perspective of Yoga and Ayurveda that will help you reach your goal of living a healthier and more fulfilled life. Welcome to the year of Revive & Restore!
The most essential aspect of health is something we naturally do every day, sleep! Unfortunately, the National Sleep Foundation states that nearly seven out of ten American adults report frequent sleeping problems. This is an alarming number since the quality of our sleep impacts everything about the quality of our life. Sleep regulates our weight, strengthens our immunity, protects our cardiovascular health, repairs our tissues and cells and restores our energy. It also allows us to process, consolidate, and retain new memories, balances our emotions, increases our capacity to problem solve and sparks our creativity.
Yogis and ayurvedic practitioners have been saying this for centuries: deep sleep allows the body and the mind to rest. The key here is that it is healthy, natural sleep. As is customary in western society, we tend to rely on a pill for a quick fix to a problem. Unfortunately, pills come with side effects, cost and potentially dependency.
Yoga and Ayurveda would say that sleeplessness, or insomnia, is caused by physical, mental or emotional “indigestion”. Physical indigestion of the digestive system could lead to heartburn or other symptoms. Mental indigestion could stem from our inability to let go of a certain experience leading to rumination or excessive thinking. Lastly, emotional indigestion can happen from the inability to process an emotion we have just under the surface.
Whatever, the root cause of your sleeplessness may be, there are many techniques that can be easily integrated into your nightly routine that can work at a deeper level on mind and body than any pill ever could. We recommend trying one technique for 1-2 weeks to determine its effect. If it hasn’t help, try another technique.
The ritual around sleep is incredibly important as well as how we create the space we sleep in. Below are some tips from western medicine that are easily incorporated into your nightly routine.
Scalp & Foot Massage
A quick 5-minute massage with or without oil to your scalp and feet can bring the relaxation benefits of an entire body massage. Yogic and Ayurvedic tradition would say this is because all nadis (the lines that prana – energy – flows through) start in the scalp and end in the soles of the feet.
- When you are ready for sleep, sit on the edge of your bed and use your fingertips to make small circular motions along your entire scalp for 2 minutes.
- Move on to your feet spending a minute or so on each foot to massage the sole as well as the ankles and toes in long smooth strokes. Be mindful and don’t rush. Make your feet feel good!
- When you are complete, lie down and sleep tight!
- If you would like to try some herbal infused oil, we recommend Sleep Easy Oil by Banyan Botanicals. You can cover your feet with light socks before sliding into bed to sleep!
Counting Breaths Relaxation Technique
To help sooth those mental and emotional indigestions, try a relaxation technique that can be done lying down in bed. Allow your mind to focus steadily on your breath. Try to make it as smooth and easy as possible, eliminating all roughness or pauses. Don’t worry if you don’t finish, most people don’t!
Get into bed and get comfortable.
- Take 8 breaths lying on your back
- Take 16 breaths lying on your right side
- Take 32 breaths lying on your left side
Yoga Nidra Meditation
Meditation is a powerful tool that allows us to digest and process all the mental and emotional worries that we have. Prefer to have a soothing voice guide you into deep relaxation as you prepare for sleep? A yoga nidra meditation is your answer. Please enjoy this Para Yoga Nidra practice from one of our teachers, Rod Stryker. You will not be disappointed as you slip into the sweetness of sleep, deeply and fully relaxed.