It’s called your “nervous system” for a reason. In the busy world we live in, the system called the Central Nervous System is constantly activated and it happens to control most of the mind and body. The nervous system takes in the sensory experience around you and sends messages to the brain to help you control your body in reaction to what you see, hear, taste, feel, and smell. This is good. Very good. And it’s a system that has kept us safe and on track for many many moons (think cave man days). The fact is, without our nervous systems we wouldn’t survive.
Now when we think about the modern world we live in- and for those of you who live in New York may also know it as the epitome of sensory overload- we may end up feeling a bit more like the quote below (written by some unknown genius).
“I don’t have a nervous system, I am a nervous system.” –Unknown
So how do we not only survive, but adapt to the heightened levels of stress, technology, and let’s face it full time central nervous system functioning all around us in a way that makes sleep effortless? The answer is we must PURPOSEFULLY turn down the volume and settle into a state worthy of some really rad (and I’ll say it again, effortless) sleep. I know you’re wondering, what amazing and beautiful vehicle can bring me this state you speak of? Enter Yoga (bows politely).
Yoga is a mind/body practice that can really help to slow down the Central Nervous System enough to get you back to baseline after a long day of working, commuting, partying, playing on your phone- or whatever it is you like to do. The combination of focused, deep breathing and physical stretching/releasing can aid in relaxing you and getting the Central Nervous System calmed.
Yoga is a beautiful and sacred practice that can be done at a studio, or even at home. And this got me wondering about specific poses for sleep for my readers. So I went straight to the best source I know, yoga teacher/healer extraordinaire Erika Mehiel from Five Pillars Yoga in NYC and asked “What TWO poses might my insomniac readers benefit from the MOST for their sleep?” She told me that there are restful poses, some with inversion, that can really help with restlessness, insomnia, and to promote sleep and guess what- they can be done IN BED (phewf). I’ll review them below (with pictures!) So feel free to try them out at home!
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)
This pose can be performed while in bed, or on the floor and with this one, the wall is your best friend (Thanks wall-BFF, we love you). The way in which the legs are inverted allows for the blood to rush back down to the heart, promoting a soothing experience. You can add a sweet eye pillow (or towel over the eyes) or even some lavender oil, and you definitely want to close your eyes during this yummy pose. You can stay in it up to 5 minutes so get comfy!
Now this next one is my favorite (probably because of the name).
Nighttime Goddess Stretch
(That name, right?) This can also be performed in your bed or on the floor. You’re going to want to lie flat on your back with your knees bent and then place the soles of your feet together, allowing the knees to fall open into a diamond shape. Then, simply rest your arms on the bed and close those eyes. (If this is too much you can put a blanket under your lower back, or you can elevate your legs by placing a pillow under each knee). You can stay here 3-5 minutes.
There you have it- two very simple poses that can help you ease into a restful sleep. These can be used in combination with a variety of other techniques to help you get to sleep, like CBT-i (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) discussed in an earlier post. Give these poses a try and tell me what you think! Hoping for an absolutely effortless night's sleep for all of you, you nighttime gods and goddesses!