06 Sep An Insomniac’s Guide to a happy sleep
Here is a scenario that may sound familiar to you. You’re lying in bed staring at your bedside clock. The time moves from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. and anxiety begins to swirl in your chest and stomach because you HAVE to wake up early for the busy and hopefully productive day that awaits you. The clock has become your worst enemy. Your mind begins to reveal events of the past long forgotten and compiles lists of to do’s. No matter how diligently you try to fall asleep the flood gates of anxiety have been opened and the flow of thoughts bring exponential pressure. There are those who suffer from insomnia and those who have occasional experiences with insomnia. The truth is (and various studies can prove) that a yogic practice consisting of asana (physical posture), prāṇāyāma (control of expansion and contraction of breath), and dhyāna (meditation), can help prevent and alleviate both. Let’s be honest though, when the clock is ticking away the studies that prove yoga for prevention and relief of insomnia are overwhelming. Actually, huge life-changing plans will probably intensify your inability to sleep.
Let us start with a basic pre-sleep checklist. Make sure your phone is off or on airplane mode (your alarm still works on airplane mode, but it is better to use an old- fashioned alarm clock so that you don’t have the urge to check your email) Also, it is important to ensure that your sleeping area is dark and cool. If you must fall asleep with noise or television, see if you. Can use a timer to shut the darn technology off!!!!! In ode to a minor and attainable pre-sleep yogic practice, here are two suggestions for a five to ten-minute evening sādhana (daily practice). First try viparītakaraṇī (legs up the wall). This is prescribed to be practiced on the floor, but if necessary may be practiced on the mattress. The goal is to get your glutes as close to the wall as possible and extend your legs up the wall with arms extended so the hands fall by the hips (arms can also be bent like a cactus so that elbows are bent at a ninety- degree angle with hands palms up by shoulders.) Viparītakaraṇī is attributed to slowing the heart rate, stimulating vasodilation, aiding digestion and rejuvenates and restores tired legs, ankles, and feet (avoid if diagnosed with glaucoma or severe back conditions). It is recommended to practice legs up the wall up to twenty minutes but can be much shorter.
For a mindful prāṇāyāma practice the troubled sleeper can always turn to Candra Bhedana (left-nostril breath), a prāṇāyām exercise in which one blocks the right nostril, inhales through the left , and exhales through the right continuously from one minute upward from one to three minutes. This prāṇāyāma will quiet thoughts, cool the body, and reduce blood pressure preparing you for sleep. This exercise is something that can also be done sitting up straight or in moments when you find yourself counting sheep. Both are simple yet mindful practices that may be implemented before bed. Try this practice for one month without expectation yet with positivity. Sweet Dreams!