It’s late, and you are starting to feel tired. With the lights out you head for bed. You lie there for a while but your mind just cannot shut off with the lights. The longer you lie there hoping to fall asleep, the more agitated you become. You start worrying that you won’t be able to fall asleep. The more you think the more the cycle continues.
Then your mind becomes more active, thinking, worrying, planning, and all you are doing is ‘trying’ to fall asleep.
There was one occasion many years ago when I was traveling through Mexico. I couldn’t fall asleep. I decided to do some yoga to pass the time. I went into a sitting forward bend. In five minutes I was falling asleep in the pose! From that experience I discovered how to incorporate forward bends to quiet my mind and to calm my nervous system. Forward bends always helps me to fall asleep. Even if I am not tired but I want to do some quiet yoga at night and I just want to wind down from the day, I find that I am almost falling asleep from the calming effect I receive from forward bends.
One hour before you plan on going to bed, begin the ritual to let the day go. If you watch TV, turn it off. Set up a quiet space where you can sit comfortably on the floor without any distractions. The environment you choose for this, if possible, should be something special for your personal time to close off the outside noise and begin to turn your awareness inside. You may want to use a blanket or a block as added support for your head to rest upon. You may want some calming music, a candle to soften the lighting and a soothing lavender scent.
I like to have a small timer to set for 1-5 minutes so I am not thinking about time. It helps me to be to stay with the pose and not look at a watch.There are so many variations of Forward bends so choose one that you are able to stay in with comfort.
A simple one is to sit on a blanket in an easy cross-legged position and bend forward. If your head doesn’t meet the ground, simply use a blanket, block, or some lift for your head to rest upon. Feel your back relax as your breath begins to open up. You will go through some tight areas and resistance but as you stay there and breathe, feel the tension melt away with every breath.
Another asana that is very simple is the child’s pose which is always used as a relaxation pose between asanas. It is a pose that brings a gentle stretch to the back and is very quieting to the mind. Take a pillow for a support for your head if needed.
If you have greater flexibility, try a full forward bend (pashimottanasana) Sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. This is a dynamic and calming posture that will release tensions from head to toe. Forward ending are practical magic as a calmative for the brain and relaxant for the heart and nervous system.
Never be intimidated because of lack of flexibility. There is always a way to achieve a simple forward bend. using a chair and bending forward with support for your head. You can sit on your bed if you can not sit on the floor. If you simply find something you can do and do it, you will be on your way to something more.
Good Night and Sweet dreams….