Rest Stop Yoga: Sleep

You've been traveling for hours. You unfold your body from the cramped car and walk to the motel reception desk. You wiggle and stretch while you wait for help. Pour your weight from leg to leg. Lift up on your toes. Shake. Then head to your room and unpack. You lie down exhausted but unable to rest. Here are some tips for getting the rest you need:

1) Don't drink too much caffeine. Obvious but true. You probably already know your personal limit. Stick with it. Use asana (yoga postures) as a pick-me-up instead.

2) Eat well. Yes, let yourself have a treat. Enjoy the local offerings. But make sure you get your vegies, fruit, and fiber.

3) Take a nice long walk before you settle in at that motel. Move the big muscles of your legs. Do some big arm circles. Get a bit of real movement back into your muscles, fibers and bones.

4) Get outdoors during midday daylight. Wear shorts and get sunlight on your legs and the back of your knees. Your bodies clock will more easily shut down at night when it clear what day is.

When it is time to settle in to sleep turn off the TV and reduce visual and auditory stimulation as much as possible. Listen to your breath and your heartbeat. Do a body scan ~ tuning into each muscle, each bone, each limb, all of you. Wiggle and stretch then tense and relax. Repeat the body scan an the tense/release cycles until you feel tension dissolve.

Focused Relaxation of the nervous system: Alternate Nostril Breath
This is fabulous way to relax and calm the nervous system quickly. Begin in a comfortable seated or prone position. Rest the first and middle finger of your non-dominant hand on your forehead. Bring your thumb and ring finger to rest on either side of the nose near the transition from nasal cartilage to nasal bone (about mid way along the length of the nose). Take a few long smooth breaths. At the end of an exhalation gently close the right nostril with the pressure of your finger or thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right then close it and exhale through the left. Inhale left, close, exhale right. Inhale right, close, exhale left. Continue the pattern exhaling and inhaling on one side, then switching to the other nostril.

After a few minutes you may find that you can do the alternate nostril breath without using your hands. Your intention will guide the breath from one side to the other. If you can find the focus and sensation of this you may lay back and continue and not even notice you have fallen asleep.

About five minutes of alternate nostril breath will soothe and balance your nervous system. You can use this as often as you like. I find it particularly effective in the middle of the night to calm the incessant chatter of an anxious mind and get me back to sleep readily.