As women, often times we need to take care of many things all at once: from our jobs, to our families, doing the groceries, cooking, taking care of running the house, keeping up with your kids, and sometimes pets are even included in the equation. It’s a lot to do, and we can do this and more, given that we do make the time to take care of ourselves, support our bodies and our minds.
In order for us gracefully do everything we do, we need to include healthy habits that are only for ourselves, take a few minutes each day to care for your body, not only how your body looks, but how it feels, pay attention to what you need. For some, it’s a walk in the park, a yoga class or a run, maybe massage once a month. But the one thing that we do need daily is a good night’s sleep.
One of the things women suffer most from today is insomnia and sleep depravation, a 2002 NSF (Sleep in America) poll showed that at least 64% of women suffer from insomnia a few nights a week. Sleep depravation is reflected on lack of energy during the day and this in turn affects all your daily activities, a short to do list can turn into an awful heavy burden when you’re tired.
Our bodies recover the best when we’re sleeping deeply, as blood flow goes to the muscle, blood pressure drops, tissue growth and repair occurs in addition to a release of hormones that our body needs for development. Sleep is an essential component to our health. But getting a good night sleep in this day and time can be a rare thing, many times we go to sleep and wake up still feeling tired and depleted, this is mainly because we’re so stressed and our minds so active that even during sleep our bodies can’t completely relax. A few hours of deep sleep are much better than 10 hours of tossing and turning.
You know you’ve had a good sleep when you wake up feeling refreshed and alert ready to go for the day. Here are a few tips to try out before going to bed, if you add them to your night regime your sleep quality will definitely improve. Make this a gift to yourself everyday.
1-Take a warm shower (if you can) if not just wash your feet, your face and teeth. This helps in clearing your body from the days energy, it helps you to unwind and prepare for a restful night.
2- With a wooden comb brush your hair from the front to the back, this helps in cleaning the electromagnetic field. If you have long hair, you can try to make it into a braid so it doesn’t go all over the place while you’re sleeping. Add a few drops of your favorite oil on the tips of your braid to hydrate your hair.
3- After you’ve washed your feet, massage them with almond oil (coconut oil can be used). When you give your feet a 5 min massage it immediately relaxes your whole body. Take time here to thank your feet for taking you everywhere during the day.
4- Breath deeply 5-7 minutes through your left nostril. When you breathe through your left nostril you activate the moon energy and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (notice that when get sleepy you’re mostly breathing through your left, and when you’re very active and energetic you’re mostly breathing through your right nostril) by breathing deeply you bring more oxygen into your body, and you allow your whole nervous system to start relaxing.
5-Bring your hands at your heart center and think of all the things you’re grateful for that day, thank your body for carrying you through the day and ask for peaceful sleep, visualize yourself surrounded by love and light.
6- You can try lying out on your right side (this will make you automatically start breathing with your left nostril)
MEDITATION BEFORE SLEEP
Here is another meditation you can try before going to bed, or at any time that you feel a need for calmness.
Easy Seated Pose
Either close the eyes or look straight ahead with the eyes 1/10th open.
Place the left hand on the center of the chest at the Heart Center. The palm is flat against the chest, and the fingers are parallel to the ground, pointing to the right. Make Gyan Mudra with the right hand (touch the tip of the index (Jupiter) finger with the tip of the thumb). Raise the right hand up to the right side as if giving a pledge. The palm faces forward, the three fingers not in Gyan Mudra point up. The elbow is relaxed near the side with the forearm perpendicular to the ground.
*By placing the left palm on the heart it directs the energy into the heart center (which is the home of prana), this simple action creates a sense of peace and stillness. Then you use the right hand (right side is usually the projective and active liked with sun energy) and place it in a receptive Gian mudra (wisdom mudra). When using your breath in combination with the mudra, it balances the flow of prana at the heart center, and this has a very calming, soothing effect. It’s a simple yet powerful way to start a mediation practice.
Concentrate on the flow of the breath. Regulate each bit of the breath consciously. Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils. Then suspend the breath in and raise the chest. Retain it as long as possible. Then exhale smoothly, gradually, and completely. When the breath is totally out, lock the breath out for as long as possible.
Continue this pattern of long, deep breathing for 3-31 minutes.
Inhale and exhale strongly 3 times. Relax.
Dharam Gian Kaur, also known as Ines, graduated from Miri Piri Academy, an international boarding school in Amritsar, India, that combines a rigorous academic curriculum with daily spiritual and yogic practice (Kundalini Yoga and Meditation). When she is here in Manila, she teaches Kundalini yoga and meditation in Urban Ashram Yoga and has private classes as well.
To know more about kundalini yoga, listen to Ines here.