Yoga, tension isometric exercises, etc. to help us relax.
I used to teach these two lovely ladies once a week at 6:30 in the morning. Every week, they would show up like clockwork, them and them alone. My morning class went from that of a general open level setting, to a very friendly, and personal semi-private – to the point we carried our friendship off the mat, and out into the world. Every now and then, when the weather was terrible, or someone had worked too late the night before, I would receive a text that said, “Sorry, Aryn. Today we’ll be practicing sleep yoga.”
Now, they were just letting me know they were going to sleep an extra hour, and they would see me at my next class, but in the realm of yoga – sleep yoga does actually exist. Yoga Nidra is a style of yoga that helps you glide into a sleep like state, by means of guided meditation. By concentrating on our breath, and following the instruction of a Yoga Nidra teacher, Sleep Yoga can helps us, simply, let go of the stress and tensions of every day life.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra include: Improved concentration and focus, a clear mind, and improved performance at work and in other areas of life. According to The National Sleep Foundation it also helps improve menstrual problems, and even helps relieve post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
Personally, I love yoga nidra. It is something I do at least once a week to help ensure I am getting the amount of sleep that I need. As the Dalai Lama said, “Sleep is the best meditation.” But remember, sometimes meditation is the best way to get a full nights sleep.
I’m Aryn, a mother of one born in Ohio, living in California. I love ice cream, but I don’t eat it and couldn’t even if I wanted to, and I hate popcorn. I love carnivals and summer, the beach and ocean, I love yoga and to live every moment the best that I can with my family, and I really, really love to write.
You can find Aryn at her wonderful blog Weekly Adventures. Ordinary Girl.
or she is quite active on Twitter at @ArynYoungless
A special note from me to to Aryn:
From the very beginning of my blogging journey (about three years ago now) you have been there. You are someone I can always share things with about my writing, my yoga practice, and life. Thank you for being a guest blogger here at The Warm Milk Journal and
most of all,
thank you for being my friend.
A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world. ~ Leo Buscaglia
In an ideal life, I am always centered (as in, sitting on a peaceful mountain top all day centered). This is the state of mind I strive to be in but, alas, daily life and my personality come into play once in a while…
We may not be perfectly at peace all of the time but I do find it helpful to know what makes us vulnerable to anxiety. The more aware we are of what I call our anxiety “triggers”, the more effectively we can recognize the anxious state for what it is (a momentary passing state flirting with us) and get on with the business of enjoying our lives (and sleeping restfully at night).
We all have our “triggers” that make us vulnerable to anxiety. I will share with you a few of mine and perhaps you may relate to these (or if you have different ones, please feel free to comment and share)…
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~ Usman B. Asif
Five things that make me antsy with anxiety:
1. When I feel physically run down
2. When I am experiencing some kind of pain in my body
3. When I have too much unstructured time
4. When too many choices are presented to me
5. When I feel like I should be productive but instead I am distracted rather than focused.
There are more but I will stop with these. If anxiety is flirting with me in any of these five ways,
I often find it helpful to:
1. take a walk outside
2. get busy doing something
3. remind myself that this too shall pass
4. help somebody else
5. enjoy a great movie with my family
Goodbye, anxiety….with any luck this was a mild passing flirtation and nothing more…
Worry is a misuse of imagination. ~ Dan Zadra
Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. ~Brendan Francis
Does fear keep you awake at night? Some of my worst nights have been ones full of scared anxious thoughts about: health, my children, money, the economy, world affairs, getting older, my parents, feeling fat, etc. You name it, I have probably feared or worried about it.
These days I have far fewer angst filled sleepless nights. There are tools we can develop that really do work.
You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith. ~Mary Manin Morrissey
If fearful thoughts are robbing you of a good night sleep, here are some ideas to help:
1. Meditate. Take some time to be still and quiet. You don’t need any special equipment or mantras or anything. Just close your eyes and breathe. Try to become the observer of your own thoughts. If they come, let them pass, and breathe….
2. Condition your mind with the use of affirmations. You can write these down on sticky notes, cards, or in your journal. You may include them in your prayers and use them when you meditate if you find it useful for your mind to have something to focus on.
I have used several affirmations over the years. A few that I am currently using that are working well for me are:
I expect success
I Am safe
Life supports me
3. Limit your media exposure. I still get the morning newspaper but I am very selective about what I read in it. It is no longer the first thing I look at when pouring my first cup of coffee. Instead, I write in my journal, read something spiritual and uplifting, or write a morning prayer for The Warm Milk Journal. I have never watched the news on television. I am very picky about what I read on the internet too.
Our experience is what we believe it is. The “bad news” out there that is constantly being reported (because it sells papers and advertising) does not have to be our focus or personal experience.
4. Limit your exposure to negative people. We are who we spend time with.
5. If you are overwhelmed with worry write your concerns down in your journal. Then let them go before bedtime.
6. Get plenty of exercise during the day. A well exercised body makes for a more calm and centered mind.
7. Focus on the things you love. Love and fear are opposites. Which do you want to steer you?
8. Focus on gratitude and the good that is all around you.
9. Look for and see beauty.
10. Let things go.
11. Be present.
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~Usman B. Asif
12. Light will always overcome the darkness. In the morning, things will not seem anywhere near as bad as they do in the middle of the night.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Kahlil Gibran
I highly recommend sitting outside as much as you can (weather permitting).
Spending time outdoors gives us many benefits including:
1. Fresh air
2. A connection to the natural world.
3. A connection with neighbors if you live in a community with people nearby.
4. Feeds our physical senses and our spirits.
5. Calms our minds and nervous system.
6. Many times new ideas and bursts of creativity spring from spending time outdoors.
7. Being in a more relaxed state of mind and taking in all that wonderful fresh air will result in your sleeping well.
Here are some ideas to get in the habit of spending time outdoors:
1. Dine al fresco. If you have patio furniture, great! Even if you don’t you can bring out a camping table or some other table outside so your family can enjoy a meal together outside. You can have a picnic too (either in your own yard or at a park or beach). Many restaurants these days have nice areas set up to eat al fresco. Eating outside is one of my favorite activities!
2. Take your morning cup of coffee outside with you. I have begun enjoying my coffee time outside on my back patio. I may read the paper, write in my journal, or write for The Warm Milk Journal out here (I am outside now as a matter of fact as I write this). It is also nice just to sit and listen. I am currently hearing crickets and birds.
3. Take your evening glass of wine outside. I do this as well. Enjoy a little unwinding time when you come from from work. Spending time outside during your “cocktail hour” is a lovely way to transition from the challenges of the day to a more relaxed evening mode.
4. At work, take your lunch and other breaks outdoors. Back when I was in the corporate world, I would use my lunch time to get away from my work cubicle and walk around outside. Now, as a classroom teacher I still get outside daily. I make sure I take my students out (the kids need it and so do I) to play and often we will go outside to read or write as well.
5. I’ve started to practice yoga outdoors and it is wonderful. Whenever I feel the need for a little stretch i will step outside to do some of my poses. Also when I am taking my walks on the beach I am getting in the habit to stop and do some stretching while gazing at the ocean. There is great energy at the beach with the sounds and sights of the ocean waves and the breezes….wonderful for your yoga practice!
6. Look into events that your community has to offer. Many places offer free outdoor concerts and outdoor movie showings. Great family fun!
7. Go on a nature hike.
8. Take the family camping! It is wonderful if you have young children to instill in them now a love and appreciation for the outdoors.
9. Take walks. Walking may be one of the best habits we can to do promote good health. Experiment with going out during different times of the day.
10. Get a dog! Dogs will certainly get you outside.
11. Plant and maintain a garden.
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~ Martin Luther
When I am not centered I don’t sleep well, I am moody, worry a lot, feel more sensitive and critical (to self and others), and tend to blow things up out of proportion. This is not a healthy state and I do not like it when I permit myself to get to this unhappy place.
Here are eleven ways that help to keep me centered (living a well balanced life by day and sleeping restfully at night):
1. I walk every day
2. I take times of solitude in the morning and night (and during the day when I can fit it in)
3. Write in my journal
4. Stretch and practice yoga
5. Breathe deep in my belly
6. Smile first, then think, talk, or act
7. Keep my faith
8. Talk things out with someone close to me when I need to
9. Read spiritually inspiring books or poetry
11.Spend time outdoors
Raise your hand if you got mad today. Raise your other hand if this anger turned to sadness at some point.
For us sensitive people emotions can catch us off guard. Everything is rocking along quite smoothly and then something happens to rock the boat: a spouse has to work late and can’t be home for the nice dinner you had planned, friends cancelled your plans at the last minute, you were taken aback by a comment said by a colleague or boss that you were not expecting, etc. etc.
We are going to get upset. What if we gave ourselves permission to just have our upset? 99% of the time the anger and sadness are going to go away. I think they will pass even sooner if we just let these natural emotions be. Yes, let them be.
When we torment others or ourselves when we are upset we set ourselves up for a prolonged state of being angry or sad.
I say, if you feel sad, be sad. If you are angry, be angry (a nice long walk helps a lot). Don’t do or say anything too rash or hasty.
The emotions will calm, you will recenter, and peace will return. I promise, they will!
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
Being active is a great way to ensure that we will sleep well at night. But did you know that when we exercise is important too?
The best time to work out according to a study recently published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine is either late afternoon or early evening (at least two hours before bedtime). Exercising this time of day will have our body temperatures falling just in time for us to go to sleep.
Source:”A New Bedtime Story” by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Parade January 22, 2012.
True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. ~William Penn
Making time and space for silence in our daily lives is essential.
What does silence do for us?
Here are a few benefits of silence:
1. It calms our mind and nervous system
2. It helps us to slow down
3. It helps us to become more aware of our surroundings and what is going on inside of us.
4. It puts us in the NOW.
5. It connects us to our higher power
6. It recharges us
7. If we are stuck, in a rut, or need clarification about something, a bit of silence may be all we need to to have what we need surface when we need it.
8. It centers us. As a result of being emotionally balanced we will make better decisions, feel less stress, and react less emotionally to life’s circumstances.
Yes, silence is essential. How do we make time and space for it in our busy daily lives?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Take walks (without your music). Walk in the morning, during your lunch hour, or in the evening.
2. Limit television in your household
3. Sit outside when you can
4. Have a designated quiet room or space for meditation in your house. Train family members to not disturb you when you are in this space.
5. Take a hot bath. Light a candle.
6. Ear plugs can be a blessing!
7. Close your office/bedroom door
8. Unplug. Turn your cell phone off.
9. Drive with your radio off.
10. Visit a park.
What will you do with this time and space for silence?
2. Be still
4. Write in your journal
7. Take in the fresh air (if outdoors)
8. Feel how blessed you are
14. Just BE