How are you? Or more specifically, how are you sleeping? Whether you’ve consciously thought about it or not, how you’re sleeping is often a clear sign of how you “are” (generally speaking).
From newborns all the way through to old age, SLEEP impacts our mood, our ability to focus, our memory and our general health. Having had a good night’s sleep allows our body to function better during the day and even though we sometimes don’t realise it, good quality sleep helps us see the world in a lot more optimistic light!
So what do you do when you just can’t sleep or you have disrupted sleep and find it difficult to return to sleep?! When you’re tired, exhausted even, but your body is fidgety, and your mind is on super active mode! The research says that stressing over not sleeping is even worse than not sleeping, so if you can’t sleep at least try to stay calm. This is where yoga comes in, with the added bonus that by calming your mind and body, you are much more likely to drift off into a peaceful slumber ?
Gentle yoga postures allow energy to flow through your body to help stop the fidgety, tossing and turning feeling. Shapes and stretches to choose are those that we call “down-regulating”, think forward folds (either seated or standing), child’s (mouse) pose, or gentle twists. Focus on breathing out, enjoying a few breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth… “haaa”, you can even try lengthening your breath out so that it’s slightly longer than your breath in. If you’re lying in bed, placing hands on your lower tummy helps to encourage deeper breathing (for younger children having their favourite soft toy placed on their tummy can help).
Sometimes though it’s hard to stay focused when your mind is on overdrive and we need a little outside help. There are many guided relaxations to choose from (a good place to start is an app called “Insight Timer”), it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you.
The guided relaxation parts of my yoga classes are hands-down my young students’ favourite part of class (especially teen students) and I often start my class as well with a mini-relaxation for grounding and calming. My guidance is usually inspired by iRest and Yoga Nidra practices. These profoundly relaxing and deeply nourishing practices are a perfect addition to a bedtime routine but can also be used for an afternoon calming and rejuvenating break (a great transition for after lunchtime in primary schools).
If you’d like to have a version of my guided relaxation for yourself, your child or your students, you can download a recording here ?