Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Yoga for Sleep and Relaxation

How do we wobble?  Why can't we relax?  Why does sleep elude us?  Perhaps we need to take our yoga off the mat and into our sleep.

Find contentment.  Gandhi said, "We get caught in the peripheries of life.  Do not lose your center.  Hold fast to the peace in the middle.  Let go of the peripheries of life."  
Stop looking over the fence and competing, comparing, gossiping.  Why not fall in love with what we already have?  Someone looks at us cross-eyed, or doesn't acknowledge us, it can throw us off center and out of contentment.  We are disturbed when our plans do not turn out, or someone lets us down.  Noticing where we are by asking ourselves, "What is it?"  "Where am I?"  Why am I hurting or angry or discontented?"
Embrace contentment.  Embrace the wave of change. Embrace the peace and toleration of the extremes of life without wobbling.  
The practice of gratitude keep us from wobbling.  Follow peace.  If you find no peace, sit with it, get quiet, go for a nature walk alone, until you do.

Do you find it difficult to relax or have trouble sleeping?
According to the American Psychological Association, much of your stress may be attributed to: “ineffective coping mechanisms that appear to be ingrained in our culture, perpetuating unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors for future generations."
The fact that many Americans struggle to cope with their stress probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. We've all been exposed to the crushing burden of feeling that there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Between juggling kids, work and other responsibilities, our to-do list can seem never-ending. Many of us spend our days running from one place to another, always trying to get ahead.
As a result, our mind can be so agitated from the day-to-day grind, that it can seem nearly impossible to get calm and relaxed, even in our downtime. This can leave us tossing and turning all night. But if you're able to shift some things around in your routine, there are plenty of simple things you can do to find relief. Whether it's spending more time outside, hanging out with friends by candlelight, or curling up in a soft chair at a local coffee shop, there are plenty of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. And since it's not always possible to change your external circumstances, it's carving out those few moments each day that can create big changes within, decreasing your overall stress. The practice of Yoga Nidra and other forms of guided relaxation, can release muscle tension, lower blood pressure, slow down the heart rate and regulate breathing.

​Ideas for helpful sleep and Yoga Nidra:
  • 61 Points for Meditation - starting with a the crown of the head "Relax and release" each body point imagining a cool blue light in each part from the head to the toes on each side of the body."
  • Mantra for Positive thinking (the mind must have something to think about)
    • "Breathing in, I breathe in peace; breathing out, I breathe out calm."
    • Body Scan Mantra
      • My arms and legs are heavy and warm. (repeat each section three times, then just the last three words three more times)  "Heavy and warm, heavy and warm, heavy and warm..."
      • My heartbeat and breath are steady and calm.  "Steady and calm, steady and calm, steady and calm..."
      • My forehead and jawline are cool and released.  "Cool and released, cool and released, cool and released..."
      • My neck and shoulders are letting go.  "Letting go, letting go, letting go..."
      • ​My fingers and toes are relaxed and at ease.  "Relaxed and at ease, relaxed, at ease, relaxed, at ease..."  
      • My belly and back are soft and supported. "Soft and supported, soft and supported, soft and supported..."
      • My hips and sacrum are free and easy.  "Free and easy, free and easy, free and easy..."
      • My mind is calm and at peace.  "Calm and at peace, calm and at peace, calm and at peace..."
      • My emotions are quiet and at rest.  "Quiet and at rest, quiet, at rest, quiet, at rest..."
      • My spirit is one with God.  "One with God, one with God, one with God..."
    • Tighten and Release
      • Each body part lift a few inches, tighten the muscle, and intentionally relax the muscle
      • Notice if you could be five to ten percent more comfortable and adjust.  I always recommend the knees higher than the hips while lying down and seated - the knees lower than the hips.
      • Soothe, soften, and allow
        • soothe with a quiet, gentle touch
        • soften with an exhalation - cooling breath
        • allow what is to be without trying to fix it or create change
    • Tonglen Meditation
      • Say a prayer of dedication
      • Breathe in the feelings of anger, discontentment, frustration, suffering of any type (or someone else's suffering)
      • Imagine it as a dark cloud or puff of smoke, heavy or hot air
      • ​Breathe out the letting go process by releasing the feeling and changing it to a positive emotion
      • Imagine it as a light, white, fluffy cloud of healing
      • Continue as long as needed until the darkness decreases and the light increases.
    • ​Focus, Flow, and Let Go
      • Focus on the breath - especially the exhalation
      • Flow with the breath - feel the chest and abdomen rise and fall with each in-breath and out-breath
      • Let go of each thought that arises
    • ​Metta Meditation (continue saying it over youself, then add in loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues, and even those people who have hurt or harmed you)
      • May I be happy and have the causes of happiness
      • May I be healthy in my body, soul, and spirit
      • May I be safe, free from harm
      • May I be at peace​
These are some of the techniques that I personally use​ to help me as I need to go to sleep or awaken before it is time to get up.  May you be blessed by these techniques.  Remember sleep and relaxation are healing to the body and mind. Too much multi-tasking robs us of the ability to be present and concentrate.


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