Insomnia & Stress-Dreams: Yoga Practices to Avoid Poor Sleep & Enhance Alertness

Sleep is one of 5 mental states that can cloud our True Self [Yoga Sutra 1.5]

 

If we could live without our 5, 6, 7 hours a day, we would. Some yoga practicioners or high functioning human beings can live without it – the Indian Prime Minister credits yoga and deep breathing with his ability to be awake most hours of the day, as does Amma, the hugging saint who can go without sleep.

 

Regardless of how much you get, poor quality on the pillow can ruin your work day.

 

These yoga tools will help you deal with insomnia & stress-dreams, two main culprits in our inability to wake up refreshed and alert.

 

Before Bed:

1.       Minimize phone usage (or dim the screen if you can’t minimize) 30 min before bed

2.       Move every joint* Counter-intuitively, we need to move the tension out before we can rest. Circle ankles, wrists & neck, bend and straighten knees & elbows, spread fingers & toes.

3.       Fold Forward Press your hips against the wall and lean forward over your thighs with a big bend in your knees, feet wider than hips distance and 2 feet from the wall.

4.       Extend your Exhale Breathing out releases energy and helps promote rest.

Upon Waking:

1.       Deepen your Inhale Breathing in increases energy and vitality.

2.       Reach from Fingers to Toes Stretch your arms overhead & point through your toes to lengthen & awaken the body.

3.       Twist to Wake Up your Core Bring your right knee in to your chest, stretch the left leg out. Draw the right knee to the left, stretch your right arm out & look over your right shoulder. Repeat on the left side.

4.       Envision a calm and productive day If stressful thoughts bombard you as soon as you wake up, or if you dreamt of meetings, email & excel, choose an opposite thought – imagine being clear, decisive, thoughtful and peaceful. In yoga we call this Pratipaksha Bhavinam and it means pivoting from the negative to the positive.

*from Urban Zen program (www.urbanzen.org)