This fast-paced modern world often keeps the mind whirling long after it should be asleep. Finding a balance between work, family, and other obligations bring stress that can keep you awake late into the night. But, there are yoga and meditation techniques you can use to release stress and bring the mind to a state of calmness.
Yoga and Meditation Relieve Stress
Yoga and meditation have been proven to decrease inflammation, reduce blood pressure, and improve moods. Both use breath and body together to focus on muscle groups that may be holding tension. As your mind focuses on your body, it is more likely to put those things that are causing stress in the background where they have less power over you.
Stress causes muscles to tighten and shorten often resulting in painful knots. Yoga and meditation let you slow your busy life down and target your problem areas, which often include the neck, shoulders, or back. Start by creating a relaxation routine before you go to bed. Try a few different techniques and poses until you find a sequence works for you.
Meditation for Better Sleep
There are many types of meditation, some of the most successful sleep-promoting techniques include:
Abdominal (Deep) Breathing: You can perform abdominal breathing lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a deep breath from the diaphragm. At first, it might be beneficial to place one hand over your belly button. Your hand should rise when you breathe in letting you know you’re doing the technique correctly. Slowly let the air out. Focus on the in and out movement of air.
The Count Down: Lay down in a comfortable position and take a few deep abdominal breaths. You can look at the ceiling or close your eyes, whichever is more comfortable. Start counting down from one hundred. Use each breath to picture the numbers in your mind. As you move to the next number, relax one part of your body. Gradually relax from your head down to your toes.
Guided Imagery: The brain has the power to make your body believe it’s somewhere else. Get comfortable and pick a place in your mind where you feel safe, calm, and relaxed. Breathe deeply and imagine this place in as much detail as possible. Use all your senses to bring your relaxation location to life so that every part of you believes you’re there. With the mind occupied, the body is free to relax into sleep.
Yoga to Release Tension
There are many yoga poses that promote sleep. Some can even be performed from the comfort of your own bed.
Child’s Pose: This classic pose can be performed on a firm bed. If that’s not comfortable, you can use a mat next to your bed. Sit on your knees with the top of the feet flat on the floor, fold your torso over your thighs and extend the arms in front of you (you can also place them at your sides if that’s more comfortable). Take five deep abdominal breaths and release.
Legs up the Wall Pose: This fun pose sends blood back to your center and heart. Lay on the floor with your legs extended straight up the wall pointing to the ceiling. Arms should be extended out to each side, but relaxed. Breathe deeply for five breaths and let your legs and back relax.
Supine Spinal Twist: Lie with your back to the mat with one leg out straight and bring the other knee to your chest. Gently cross this knee over your body while turning your head in the opposite direction. Breathe deeply for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
Mary Lee is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She specializes in sleep’s role in mental and physical health and wellness. Mary lives in Olympia, Washington and shares her full-sized bed with a very noisy cat.
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