We all get it from time to time. Insomnia. Whether it’s anxiety, nervousness, caffeine or excitement keeping us up, we need to get learn how to manage and overcome our insomnia and get quality sleep.
Yoga and mindfulness practice can help immensely with sleeplessness and insomnia. Here’s how:
1. Along with more meditation comes less need for sleep.
Seriously. When you meditate for an hour a day, you are giving so much alert awareness and deep relaxation to your brain. You are more energized throughout the day and may find that you need less sleep.
I can shift from needing 8 hours to only needing 4-6 to feel re-energized when I am meditating consistently. Even 20-30 minutes makes a huge difference. As little as 5-10 minutes is better than nothing!
Vipassana helps you. When a Vipassana student can’t sleep properly, if he or she lies down and observes respiration or sensations, sound sleep comes. Even if they don’t get sound sleep, the next day they will get up feeling very fresh, as if they have come out of a deep sleep. Practice Vipassana even when lying down. Try, and you will find that it is very helpful.
This simple advice has helped me immeasurably.
Though I usually fall asleep easily and sleep well, pre-Vipassana, when sleep would evade me, I tended to turn into a big baby. Anxiety and irrational thoughts would swirl through my mind. I’d toss and turn and toss some more. But now, I remain relatively relaxed and try to appreciate rest, even if it’s not REM.
2. Moon breath
Breathe through your left nostril only. Close off the right nostril and breathe long, slow, deep breaths for several minutes through the left side. This helps calm and relax the mind.
3. Child’s pose
And all seated forward bends, but especially child’s pose. These are cooling and relaxing. Get in the pose. Hold it several minute. Prop yourself up with pillows as much as needed/desired. Breathe deeply. Relax. Imagine your mind is as vast as the starry night sky.
4. Horizontal Meditation
Whether you practice Vipassana (see #1) or visualization or any other technique of meditation, apply that technique when you have insomnia and are lying there in bed unable to sleep. Why not? It is better to meditate in a horizontal position than to be shifting positions in frustration, looking at the clock and worrying about how tired you are going to be the next day.