We've all been there at the end of a long day: too exhausted to do anything substantial but too hyped up and jittery to really relax. Feeling simultaneously tired and wired happens more often than many of us would like, and it can be hard to know what kind of practice is best to do when you feel this way.
"The goal of yoga, among other things, is unification of body and mind," says Frank Jude Boccio, a yoga and meditation teacher. But when your body is tired and your mind is wired, he says, you don't experience that unification. "The beauty of it is that yoga practices are specifically designed to bring the two into balance."
According to Boccio, the first step is to rest the body. Even if your job is not physically rigorous, he says, your body is tired at the end of the day because the mind uses a lot of glucose, which leaves you feeling depleted.
Boccio recommends this short series of restorative postures that combines forward folds to calm the nervous system and simple twists to revitalize the body and move stagnant blood, rebalancing your energy.
Once your body starts to relax, Boccio says, you can bring your mind into balance with it by doing a simple breath-awareness practice. Start by exhaling completely, with long and steady breaths, as if the receding waves are drawing with them the accumulated detritus of the day; then take deep inhalations that feel like waves coming in with great force. Finally, beware of how much you reactivate the mind with television or computer time before going to bed. If you don't get enough sleep, you start the day feeling depleted, and end it feeling even more so.
To unwind just before going to sleep, Boccio suggests giving yourself a foot massage: Coat the sole of your foot with raw sesame oil (you can add a few drops of a calming essential oil like lavender), and massage for a few minutes. This brings the energy down in the body, helping you feel grounded before bed.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Begin by feeling the support of the earth beneath you. Mentally scan your body and notice your level of fatigue or over stimulation. As you move through the following sequence, hold each pose as long as feels right to you.
Bring one knee into your chest, keeping the other leg straight on the ground. Switch knees, and then bring both knees into your chest. This pose helps release the kidney area, where fatigue is often felt.
Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)
Extend your arms. Bring your knees over to your right side and hold; switch sides. Twists like these lift your energy and bring new blood to your internal organs and kidney area.
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
This calming inversion takes pressure off the lower part of your body.
Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
Come into the pose and hold; then switch sides. This forward bend helps calm the nervous system.
Take a gentle twist to either side to help lift lethargy and increase energy.