Sleep and the Art of Rest
Do you lie in bed with your thoughts spinning out of control and an exhausted body, begging for sleep? Are you one of the 70 million Americans who struggles with sleeplessness? How can we let go of our overstimulated minds from keeping us up, or waking us up in the middle of the night. As my Thai massage teacher, Pichet, says in his broken English, “Headache! What to do?”
So many of us are busy all the time. We are in a constant state of activity and revel in nonstop stimulus. After all, we do live in New York, the city that never sleeps, and there are so many amazing things to do at all times of the day and night! We love the stimulus. We feel engaged, active, productive and are socially rewarded for being busy. It is often difficult for us to let go of our productive active selves. This is compounded by the fact that so much of our work as well as entertainment and social life is now on our computer or smartphone. We are constantly engaged, clicking away, often late into the night. Stimulus is wonderful, but constant activity, creates imbalance in our being. We often pay for it by becoming overwhelmed, depleted and sleepless. The problem begins when we can’t stop and it gets magnified when we try to go to sleep. Though physically we may be lying in bed, our minds continue to race out of control. We need to learn to let go, which is easier said than done. What we can do is create the conditions to help the thoughts quiet down so we can get some sleep.
Practices to invite sleep
Allow the quieting yin aspect of your being to blossom as night descends. Graciously receive the sublime support of yin to help you unravel and release the agitating thoughts, feelings, and experiences that might be keeping you up at night.
1.Set aside an hour before you go to bed as a special peaceful time to help you release the stress and busyness of the day.
2. Dim the lights, creating a dusk like atmosphere in your home. Dusk offers us a natural process of slowing down and quietly letting go of the light of day. It gradually beckons us inside, moving from the yang energy of the day into a more internal yin evening energy. In the dusky darkness, we begin to secrete Melatonin, our sleep hormone, which invites us to sleep and dream.
3. What you do before you go to bed directly affects your ability to sleep. One of the most important things you can do to invite sleep is create a bedtime ritual that will calm you down. A consistent bedtime routine will cue your body and mind that it is time to slow down and release your daily preoccupations.
4. Decompress with restorative yoga postures to help quiet your mind. Practiced with great gentleness and plenty of support, these poses directly affect your endocrine system, allow you to release tension and stress in your body, and invite internal balance to your being.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Try Reclined Bound Angle Pose to calm your nervous system and to help you relax. One of the most deeply nourishing restorative yoga poses, Reclined Bound Angle Pose is my one of my go-to poses when I’m exhausted, stressed out, or can’t sleep. Surrendering into the complete support of Reclined Bound Angle Pose offers you a delicious invitation to completely soften and nourish your whole being. It helps relieve stress and anxiety, calms the nerves, and quiets the incessant chatter in the mind. It is a wonderful preparation for sleep.
Also known as Goddess pose, it is extremely beneficial for women. Reclined Bound Angle Pose stimulates the liver and kidney meridians, nourishing our organs of detoxification as well as inviting reproductive health. It helps ease premenstrual, menstrual, as well as menopause discomfort and agitation. A balm for irritability and frustration in the mind, Reclined Bound Angle Pose, helps cool, clear, and refresh the mind, bringing you into a state of ease prior to sleep.
Join me through iBelove for my online course, Sleep & the Art of Rest and invite deep sleep and rest into your life. Enjoy a simple step by step process to release the thoughts and habits that keep you up at night. Learn healthy evening routines to promote relaxation and re-align with your natural sleep rhythm. Unwind and melt the stress away with restorative yoga practices. Nourish yourself with ayurvedic sleep tips. Ease your mind with soothing audio sessions: guided meditation and breathing practices to summon sleep. You can sign up for the fall session, which will take place October 17 through November 21, here.
Leigh Evans, (500 E-RYT) is a yoga teacher and choreographer dedicated to awakening creativity and aliveness in the body. Inspired by her studies in Ayurveda and Thai massage, Leigh has created an approach to yoga practice that imparts healing and transformation for specific health issues and Seasonal imbalances. Through an integration of Seasonal vinyasa yang and restorative yin practice, Leigh’s classes enhance the flow of prana in the body by nourishing specific energy channels and organs. Inspired by her Insight meditation practice, she encourages the development of mindfulness through the yoga practice. Leigh is the director of the Yoga Sukhavati Teacher Training Programs. Yoga Sukhavati’s Seasonal vinyasa practices are infused with Ayurveda, Buddhism, and Women’s healing practices. She is also the director of Greenhouse Holistic 200 HR Yoga Teacher Training Program in Brooklyn. Leigh lives in New York and teaches retreats, teacher trainings, and workshops both nationally and internationally.