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Lots of us suffer from one type of sleep deprivation or another in our lifetimes. Kids, work, stress or illness can keep us up well past a healthy bed time. What to do when you wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep? Here are some great techniques for calming your energy down and avoiding that frustrating feeling.
Move. Once you are sure that you aren’t falling back to sleep, change your surroundings. Often frustration can build while you lie there, just staring at the ceiling or tossing back and forth. Find a quiet corner of the house, even if it is the bathroom!
Support your body. There are a few great yoga poses to support your endocrine system and nervous system, the two systems that are often put under duress when you are dealing with insomnia. The thyroid and the adrenals are put under pressure (or may be the reason for your insomnia in the first place) and they can be supported through Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose) or Setu Bhanda (Bridge Pose).
Viparita Karani. Take a pillow and place it about six inches from the wall (you can also do this pose in bed). Sit on the pillow, with your legs parallel to the wall. Swing your legs up the wall and lay back, so that the pillow is gently supporting your lower back and your hips are on the floor. Slide yourself away from the wall to account for tight hamstrings. A yummy addition to this pose is an eye pillow and fuzzy blanket to keep you warm. Once you are in the pose, you can do some relaxing breathwork.
Viloma Pranayama. This breath work is a great way to active your parasympathetic nervous system. Take a gentle breath in, focusing on inflating your low belly. Take a tiny pause, then keep inhaling into your chest. Take another tiny pause, and fill your lungs to absolute fullness. Then slowly and gently exhale through the mouth. Do this as many times as you need to feel relaxed. For me, it usually only takes 5 or 6 rounds to feel some stress relief.
Setu Bhanda or Bridge Pose. This pose is excellent for those with thyroid issues. To begin, start on your back, feet on the floor. Press your feet firmly down into the floor and lift the hips up. You can support underneath your low back with pillows or blankets. The light pressure at the base of the throat can stimulate or calm the thyroid and bring the throat chakra back into balance. Stay here as long as you like, making your exhales longer than your inhales.
Any of these techniques can be really helpful in balancing out your energies and bring you back to sleep land. Give them a try and tell me if you are successful!
Hey All! Here is my first Yoga Quickie – It’s a quick 5 minute cardio series to energized your body, mind and heart! Spend 5 minutes and change your world!
Like what you see? I make personalized Yoga DVDs that will fit any home practice! Check it out here.
5. The bathroom. Maybe this seems like it would be your number one place that was wierd, but it’s actually not as wierd as you might think. It’s sometimes the only place where you can grab 5 minutes of peace and quiet, and you don’t necessarily have to have your pants down! Try this bathroom meditation tip: Take 5 minutes one evening, after its getting dark or dark already. Go in and set a candle near or across from you, somewhere where you can see it. Turn off the lights, lock the door (if you can) and set a timer. Just sit there, breathe and stare at the candle for 5 minutes. Try to keep your thoughts only on the candle, and every time you get distracted with a thought or a noise or whatever, just come back to staring at the candle.
4. Your car. Now, please don’t try to mediate while rolling down the highway! That’s not what I mean. What I do mean is between the grocery store and the post office, take 5 minutes to sit in your car and breathe. Set a timer on your phone or try this technique: Count your exhales for one minute (you can watch your car clock as you do this). Then take that number, whatever it is, and repeat that number of exhales 5 times. It may not be right on the money, especially as you start to concentrate on the breath, you are going to slow down your rate of breathing. It will be about 5 minutes and the resultant piece of mind will be priceless. And who can say you don’t have just a few minutes to pause in between going to one place or another? If you don’t run errands during the day, try this at the beginning of lunchtime. You will find you will make better food choices, once you are relaxed and aware of your surroundings!
3. In the middle of the supermarket. What??!! Yes, meditating in the middle of a busy crowd can be quite empowering. It can also be a test of your concentration skills. When I am feeling especially rushed or frantic, I will stop for a few moments and concentrate on my breath. Now some may argue that is more breath control work or pranayama, but they blend together a bit when you are using the breath as a concentration technique. So try this – in the pasta aisle, stop for a few moments and close your eyes. If you are concerned about looking weird to others in the store, turn and face the shelves so it looks like you are looking for the right pasta sauce at eye level. Then close your eyes and employ the breath counting technique employed above. Count your exhales for 2 minutes, and when you open your eyes, take note of how you feel, mentally, physically and emotionally. You will probably be clearer-headed and more relaxed as you move forward into your day with strength.
2. In an ugly and unwelcoming space. As westerners, we spend a lot of time making our spaces pretty or beautiful to us. There is a lot of serenity to be gained by sitting in meditation in a well-kept, peaceful space. But have you ever tried meditating in the middle of your garage or in a warehouse full of building materials? Again, this can be a challenge, especially if there is noise or other people around. Next time you are in a place that you just don’t like (not one that gives you the skeevies, mind – that’s not what I mean), take a moment or two and see what serenity you can tap into in that place. Maybe there is a rythym you can follow in your mind or a profound silence because no one is in there. Take a moment to methaphorically turn the ugly stone over and see if what is under it can be helpful in teaching you to control your mind.
1. I am going to leave this one up to the readers. Where is the weirdest place you have meditated? Please comment and let us all know!