Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
After a busy day of multitasking, even the most serene among us can be found wide awake at night, with a mind that won’t stop buzzing. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, some 30 to 40 percent of adults suffer symptoms of insomnia within a given year.
If you occasionally suffer from sleeplessness, simple strategies can help. Yoga therapist Kate Vogt offers the following practices to help you invite your mind and body to rest with tenderness and care. Try these individually or as a sequence.
1. Say Goodnight
Create a bedtime ritual to signal to your body and mind that all activity is done for the day and it’s time for rest. Any food, sensory stimulation, or even thoughts you take in must be digested and absorbed before you will be free to rest. Finish eating two hours prior to bedtime, and turn off the TV or put aside your cell phone and laptop at least a half an hour before retiring.
When you come to bed, take a moment to notice your hands, your feet, and the rest of your body. Close your eyes and mentally shower your entire body with love and appreciation for a few seconds. This is the precious container that holds you and allows you to experience the world. Imagine every cell is filled with love.
2. Stretch and Yawn
Rest on your back and contract and stretch your muscles from head to toe. Flex your feet, spread your toes, and then curl them under three times.
Stretch out one foot and reach the opposite arm overhead. Gently squeeze and release the leg and arm muscles three times. Change sides. Hug yourself and shrug your shoulders toward each other. Hold for three or four seconds and release. Change the cross of your arms and repeat.
Rest the base of your palms above your eyebrows and place your thumbs on your temples. Slide your fingertips along your hairline and circle the thumbs lightly on your temples. Yawn three times.
3. Rest in Love
Either in bed or on your yoga mat, come into Child’s Pose with your knees wide apart and forehead resting on your hands. Imagine a blanket made of infinite love covering you. Let your head relax onto your hands. Tell your skin, muscles, and organs that they are free from the demands of multitasking and being on constant alert. Settle into this cocoon and rest for at least a minute.
4. Let Yourself Melt
Lie flat on your belly, resting your forehead on your hands. Feel your navel expand toward the floor as you inhale and pull back as you exhale. With each exhalation, imagine releasing tension from your body. Do this for 10 breaths. Roll slowly onto your back. Rest your fingers on your belly, feeling it rise and fall as you take 12 more breaths. With each exhalation, let yourself melt and be absorbed into radiant love. Then, curl into a fetal position on your right side and rest. You may even drift off to sleep.
If you’ve had sleep troubles for a month or more, you may have chronic insomnia and may want to contact a physician for advice.
Extra! Read Nourish Your Dreams to learn about natural remedies to help you sleep.