Wait for the light of day
This was a piece of advice given to me years ago, and truthfully, it has served me well. I am a ruminator. When something gets in my head, especially a worry, it can roll around up there for a long time (it’s probably all that space). The middle of the night is definitely my worst time for brooding. I wake at 2:52 a.m., some misgiving comes to mind and I am like a dog with a bone.
Have you ever had that, where you just get stuck on a thought or problem, and just can’t let it go? You’re lying there, it’s 3:36 a.m. and the worry has become massive because you have now analyzed every possible worst case scenario. In addition to that stress, if you are like me, you are now also counting the hours you have left to sleep. It’s not pleasant, especially for the people who have to live with me the next day.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a correlation between my middle of the night worries and my yoga practice. The conclusion is fairly predictable, but honestly the more I practice, the better I sleep. There are a lot of ways a yoga practice promotes sleep. The editor of Yoga Journal wrote a great blog post on 5 ways yoga can help you sleep, that you can read here. http://www.yogajournal.com/uncategorized/5-ways-yoga-can-help-sleep/ But in summary, certain poses like forward folds are designed to unwind your mind. Savasana teaches us how to relax and let go, and being mindful can help us to learn there is a time to think and a time to rest.
Another awesome thing though is yoga can help you, even if it is the middle of the night. There are great yogic breathing techniques that can help get those thoughts out of your head.
Alternate Nostril Breathing tends to be a favorite and has a crazy amount of benefits, including reducing anxiety and promoting restful sleep. There are many more technical explanations on how to practice Nadi Sodhana, but here’s the quick and dirty. Begin by rounding your breath, slowly, without force, matching the amount of time it takes to inhale with the amount of time it takes to exhale. (FYI, this equal turning breath alone helps to calm your mind). Then using your right hand, make a telephone (or hang ten) and use your thumb to block off your right nostril, inhale through your left nostril, then block your left nostril with your pinkie and exhale through your right. Inhale through your right nostril and then switch. Continue alternating nostrils, always switching before you exhale. Practice for a few minutes before you drift away to snoozeland. Even if sleep is still evasive, the calming effects of yoga, and yogic breathing give us the space to remember that sage advice from my wise redheaded friend…
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