By Kelly McLendon
If you hit the sheets after a long and busy day, but have trouble falling asleep, a simple yogic relaxation technique can help settle your mind and your body. The technique, called yoga nidra, is also known as “yogic sleep.” It’s a deep relaxation method for calming the body and can be used to quiet racing thoughts before bed.
Benefits from this exercise include emotional and muscular relaxation, as well as changing the nature of the mind. Positivity can be focused on in yoga nidra. The technique can aid in treating asthma, depression, sleeplessness, migraines and many more ailments.
5 Steps to Yogic Sleep:
1. Lie on a cushioned surface (it could even be in your bed). Allow your arms and legs to relax comfortably. You can cover up with a blanket if your body is feeling cold. As you start to relax, the body may decrease in temperature and having a blanket nearby may come in handy, so that you will stay as comfortable as possible. If your legs tend to get tired, you can also place a pillow underneath them.
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2. Turn your attention to relaxing the entire body, starting with the toes. Move to the feet, ankles, shins and legs—letting go of any holds or tension that may have accumulated in those places throughout the day. Relax your hips and your core. Allow your low back to press slightly into the surface, balancing the body and working out the spine. Relax your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. Turn your awareness to your neck. Let go of any holds or stress in that area. Finally, bring peace to the jaw, nose and eyes. Become aware of the entire body relaxing. Keep the eyes closed and start to turn your focus to the breath.
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3. Observe your breathing pattern without judgment. Is it short and choppy, or is it long and calm? However it is, just acknowledge it, without trying to change it. Begin to set an intention for your yoga nidra session. If you need to add some positivity to your life, you can make this your intention—to be positive and to look for the best in every situation. Likewise, if you would like to bring relaxation to your body, make that the intention. The intention can be anything you want it to be.
4. Melt deeper into a state of whole body awareness. Let your thoughts settle and begin to focus on your intention. Repeat the intention in a mantra, either silently or aloud. Think about how this intention can work in your life. Lie in stillness and silence, cultivating peace in your thoughts. Stay here for however long you would like, rising when you are ready to go to sleep.
5. Slowly bring the body back into present awareness, by wiggling the fingers and the toes. Roll onto your right side and lie there for a few moments, slowly waking up. Open your eyes if you wish, or settle into a relaxing night of sleep.
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