Getting a good sleep is so central to health and wellbeing – most of us notice we are less able to manage the wonders life throws at us each day when we’re struggling with insomnia or interrupted sleep. And the good news is that there are a number of yoga techniques and lifestyle tips that can work wonders for a good night!
- Get out and enjoy the winter sports – we’ve been lucky that the Rideau Canal Skateway has stayed open for a record number of days this winter! Even in the deep freeze, see if there is an outdoor activity you can enjoy with the whole family.
- Are you getting too much calcium and not enough magnesium from your diet? Check to see if a magnesium supplement could help you to fall asleep sooner and stay asleep.
- Light pollution
- Back lit computers and street lights shining in our bedroom windows, or even using electric lights to stay up way past sun down all contribute to confusion in our sleeping and waking cycles. When I first visited India there was less dependence on electric lights due to brownouts and people tended to wake with the sun and go to bed much earlier than I was used to in North America. Consider turning off your TV or computer an hour before bed, and set a bedtime that is more within the rhythms of nature.
- WiFi disturbance
- Increasingly we’re being exposed to the waves of WiFi throughout the day and night. Try turning off your WiFi connection at night, move your cellphones and computers out of the bedroom (even if only to avoid the temptation to text or get on social media in the evening). Let’s go low tech and pretend it’s 1989!
- The Bumble bee breath is one of our single most effective techniques to beat insomnia. Bhramari vibrates the glands in the brain and helps to calm your nervous system. It is easy to do and is both gently uplifting and calming. Kids can also really enjoy the Bumble bee breath as it is easy to relate to and takes only a few repetitions to feel the difference.
- Anuloma Viloma
- Alternate nostril breathing 4:8 (inhaling for four counts and exhaling for eight) allows you to gently increase the length of the exhalation, triggering a calming response in the body and mind. If you find 4:8 is too much then try exhaling for six counts instead. Alternate nostril breathing is also calming, because it calls your attention to the intricacies of the breath pattern taking your mind off other worries or to-do lists. It is a great practice at bedtime or anytime you feel the need to draw your attention away from drama both inner and outer.
- Child’s pose or a supported forward bend
- Forward bends take us from the Sympathetic nervous system to the Parasympathetic, calming us down. Child’s pose is a great way to turn inward and begin to unwind and let go for the evening. If you prefer, you can also sit on your bed and place one or two pillows on your lap. Then fold forwards onto the pillows and relax there with your arms draped over the pillows or at your side. When you’re done just lay back and get ready for sleep!