I have found several ways of alleviating this that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. I was talking with my fellow classmates and my instructor before yoga class last night about this very phenomena. I was commenting that I was up at 3 in the morning last week, really wishing I new what moves would help me get to sleep.
Turns out there are several that are very helpful. It turns out that having your head close to floor is very helpful and touching the floor is even better. Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) is very restorative and helpful for calming the mind, relaxing you and making you better prepared to sleep. Combining this with a concentration on your breath and clearing your mind might be very helpful.
Prasarita Tadottanasana (Wide-legged forward bend) is also a great move. If you can get your head on the floor, even better. Try using a block under your head if you can’t get all the way down. When completely in this pose, it is pretty intense and supposedly all of the racing thought will just flow out of the top of your head and leave you alone.
One way that I attempt to get rid of the thoughts is to write them down. This really helps when you have tomorrows to do list in your head or a great idea for a new blog post that you don’t want to forget. Don’t let it swarm in your head, just turn the side table light on, keep a pen and pad next to your bed, and write it down. Poof, done. And as I learned last night, it also helps when you just can’t keep your mind from spinning on something that is bothering you.
I was having a hard time settling down last night as I had been pretty worked up most of the day and I just needed a release, so I blogged it and read it and rewrote it several times and by that time it was done and I was ready to sleep. I actually slept really well last night, if not for the number of hours I would have liked.
Another topic that came up at yoga class was savasana (corpse pose). I too find this helpful but as my instructor was saying, when the mind is really whirling, savasana is most likely enough. This is really helpful after you have released some of the thoughts and I practice this in bed all the time to help me fall asleep.
The key to savasana and why it is considered by many to be one of, if not the, hardest yoga pose that there is, is to shut off your thoughts. This is a very difficult thing to do. They creep in even when you are actively trying to keep them out. The key is to acknowledge them and then send them on there way, returning your attention to your breath.
This is really meditation, so I did a little search on meditation and found the Change blog and his article on how to meditate. It’s a pretty good article and made me think about all the ways that I use to turn off my mind, reminded me of the conversation I had at yoga class yesterday, inspired me to learn more about meditation and ultimately brought me to writing this article.
But even better, the original author of this blog (it is now a multi-author blog) spent a year looking for change and has documented it in his blog and ultimately in an ebook, which I downloaded and look forward to reading. From the titles of his most popular posts, the same ones ultimately gathered into his ebook, it sounds like he has accomplished many of the things I am looking to accomplish on this journey and I look forward to his insight.
The links to the asanas (yoga poses) above were provided by Yoga Journal. For each pose you are given a good image (not always easy to find), a full description and how-to, and also a wealth of information about the benefits and uses for the pose. Really great stuff. In addition to their comprehensive pose gallery, they have a whole section on home practice section (I can’t wait to try this one), and a tool to build your own practice. Pretty cool.