Enhance Your Sleep With Yoga

 

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vector1229Namaste,
Happy September:)  I hope that this past summer has been full of abundance and bliss for you all.  My life has been wonderfully full.  I am so blessed to live in such an amazing community where my business and my life is complemented by so many amazing beings.  The sun has been shining a lot, and the rays of light have touched all the areas of my life, there is expansion and growth in all things. I have been blessed to be supported by music and nature during my outdoor yoga classes at Providence Farm, and our new Yoga Wellness Professional Course that integrates Ayurveda and Yoga has started .  I am also part of a Yogini Collective, and we are offering a wonderful morning of Yoga For The Coast, on September 20, there is more info below if you would like to donate from afar, and please come join us if you are local.

There is so much happening. I am excited to announce that in October my Monday Yoga classes will be held at Yum Yoga Studio in Cowichan Bay, 4:30-6:00. Wednesday’s will continue at the chapel at Providence Farm, also 4:30-6:00.  We will be at Providence both days in September- outside in the Orchard if the weather holds, and in the chapel if it’s cool and/or wet.

As always I am offering beautiful and wonderful Bodywork Therapies, so soothing and nurturing, conscious healing, on such deep levels- in a very gentle heart opening space.  ConsultationsAyurvedic CounsellingTarot Readings, and Jyotish Astrology are also available.

DSC_0002This is a long newsletter this month- A good portion of it is dedicated to yoga and sleep, as I was asked to share a blog with that as the subject.  I did want to share a short spirit based message as well.  Simple and sweet. Take care of yourself this autumn season.  Listen to the inner voice within, and the outer voice that speaks through your body.  Rest when you need too. Give love to your dreams. Nurture your spirit. And always trust that the path of your journey is unfolding exactly as it needs to. It is ALL perfect. You ARE ready for it. Take time to enjoy your own magical experience of this moment.


 The Healing Power Of Sleep

Sleep, that magical and sometimes elusive place, where our body, mind and spirit can rejuvenate, relax, release the stress, and integrate the energy of our busy lives.  The deep rest that our bodies gain from the downtime of sleep is essential for  radiant health and well- being.   I was asked by a eco sleep company to share a blog post about my favourite yoga routines for bed- and so I hope you enjoy this sleep routine- it’s the perfect way to soothe your way to deep and restful sleep.

Deep Rest- Yoga Style

Remember- Best sleep happens before 10 pm.  The natural bioryhthyms of the body are able to feel natures support and turn inward with an earlier bedtime.  So try to shut the electronics down by 9 pm, and give your self some time to turn inward with this peaceful practice.

Pranayama

Yoga is so much more than just the physical practice.  It IS the integration of our body and consciousness. One of the best ways to bridge the gap between our body and spirit is with the breath.  And there is no better way to relax our body and mind then with subtle breathing techniques.  When I feel ready to settle down.  I always start by taking a few deep breaths, and then I move onto Nadi Shodan- (alternate nostril breathing).

Nadi Shodan

DSC_0005This is a great practice to do at anytime of the day, as it brings balance to the left and right sides of the brain and the body.  It is especially nourishing to the nervous system, it clears the mind, and it releases stress. All in all it is a wonderful practice to do right before bed.

Directions

  1. Sit comfortably and relax your body (you can be in a chair or cross legged).  Let yourself smile softly- it not only relaxes the jaw. It feels good.
  2. Relax your left hand on your left thigh- palm up.
  3. Place the tip of your index finger and middle finger of your right hand on the base of the hand just below the thumb.  The ring and pinky finger are extended as is the thumb.
  4. Take a deep, soft inhale.
  5. With the thumb of your right hand close off the right nostril and exhale out the left nostril.  Let the exhale be slow and soundless.
  6. Slowly inhale into the left nostril.
  7. Close the left nostril with the ring and the pinky finger of the right hand. Pause for a comfortable moment.
  8. Slowly exhale out of the right nostril .
  9. Inhale in the right nostril, close the right nostril, pause and breathe out the left.
  10. Repeat the process.

I encourage you to take a minimum of 4 rounds with this. You can then increase the rounds to as many times as you like.  This beautiful pranayama practice prepares our being for deep relaxation.  It is wonderful to do right before bed.


 Yoga Asana-Preparing The Body For Supported Sleep

As we move into the yoga postures, I thought I would just share a few of my favourites- any and all of these are great for helping to relax the body, and to prepare for a blissful sleep.  I usually do one or two of these an evening, and spend 5 minutes or more in each posture.   Try them out, see what feels good to for your body.  Take the time to get comfortable and to relax into them, use pillows and blankets to get comfortable, shut the lights off.  You can even do most of these on your bed, so that you can just drift off to sleep afterwards (or even during).  Be with the breath for as long as you can, and most of all- Enjoy yourself.

Childs Pose- Balasana

DSC_0125This is a beautiful asana of surrender, and acceptance. Child’s pose is extremely relaxing and restoring.  It restores the parasympathetic nervous system, is grounding, and a wonderful place to take solace and rest in.  This Asana is extremely soothing and relaxing and will calm an overactive mind.  It helps us to release stress from our bodies, and to feel the natural and safe support of the universe.

Directions

  1. Begin by coming to a hands and knees table position, Take a few breaths here, (if you like feel free to do the cat stretch, massaging your spine for a few inhales and exhales).
  2. Bring the big toes together, and spread the knees wide apart as you sink your sit bones back to your heels.
  3. Allow your upper body to melt into the earth, the arms outstretched in front of you, palms down. Forehead resting flat on the floor.
  4. Breathe deeply, all the way to your belly, and allow yourself to surrender to the moment, allow your thoughts to float by, and see if you can revisit the innocence and peace of a child.

DSC_0124Modifications– Feel free to place a bolster underneath your belly for added support and relaxation.  A pillow may feel good between your sit bones and your heels.

 

 

 

Supported Fish Pose- Matsyasana 

DSC_0084Wonderful and restorative, this asana, opens the heart, allowing you to release your mind and to come into a more connected state of being.

Directions-

1. Using a bolster, a cushion, a bed pillow folded in half, or a rolled up blanket or towel, lay down with your spine and your head supported, your pelvis and legs will be resting on the floor

2. If your lower back feels tight, place a smaller, lower pillow underneath your sit bones.

3. Allow your arms to come down by your side, palms spread open in a gesture of receptivity. Your shoulders will be releasing towards the floor.

Come out by rolling onto your side and removing the bolster.  Make any movements that feel good to you.

Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)- With Or Without A Bolster

DSC_0092A wonderful posture to relax, open and be with.  This asana is wonderful for grounding and restoring energy.  This asana is extremely rejuvenating to our abdominal area.  It ignites the flow of the 2nd chakra and empowers the integration of emotions.

Instructions

DSC_00861.    Lie flat on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet together flat on the ground. Slide your heels comfortably towards the sit bones.
2.    Allow your knees to naturally open and float towards the ground creating a stretch across the inner thighs and groin. Place pillows under each knee as high as needed to be comfortable, it is not about straining or stretching, it is about comfort, the opening will come over time and with the breath. Place the soles of your feet together as the outer edge of feet rest on the ground.   Feel free to place a small pillow underneath your head if it feels good.
3.    Notice if your lower back is arched (if you aren’t using a bolster), and if it is adjust your body so that the lower back is on the ground, or that there is a slight pelvic tilt.  Again, we want no straining
4.    If the knees or thighs feel strained at all, even with the pillows move the feet away from the sit bones, this will still be opening.  Soles of the feet are still together.
5.    Hands can go where you like, some of my favorites are: arms spread out to the sides, palms up, palms over the heart or palms on the belly.

DSC_0088To come out of the pose you can either bring your knees up to the chest and give your self a big hug, or stretch the legs out one by one.  

Modifications- Feel free to use a bolster underneath your back for extra heart opening.  For extra shoulder opening place a bolster above your head and let your arms rest on it- If there are any tingling sensations, then release the arms to your sides. An eye pillow can be really nice too.

Legs Up A Wall (Wide Legged Or Together)

DSC_0130This is a pose that detoxifies as it relaxes, supporting your body, relaxing your energy, and at the same time cleansing your immune system and lymph nodes.  This asana is extremely rejuvenating to the body and very soothing to our nervous system.  It helps to support the natural flow of energy in the body, and sends all of the blood flow back to the heart and head .

Instructions

  1. Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the wall (or left, whatever is comfortable for you)
  2. Bend your knees and roll onto your left side and back, so that your legs come up against the wall, heels resting on the wall
  3. Have your sit bones 6 inches away from the wall (can be further if you have really tight hamstrings)
  4. Rest your hands where they are comfortable, on the belly, by your sides, over your head, or on your heart.
  5. Try to stay here for 5-10 minutes breathing fully, and relaxing

DSC_0133Modifications: Place the soles of the feet together, in a modified bound angle, if you like you can place a bolster under the lower back, or a pillow underneath your head.

 

 

 

 

 

Legs On A Chair

Legs On A ChairA deeply relaxing asana, wonderful for the lower back, and accessible to Everybody. Similar to legs against the wall, but more supported and easier to let go in.   Enjoy and allow yourself  to melt into your being.

Directions

1. Place a blanket on the chair if you like to make it softer for your legs.  If the chair is tall, feel free to place a folded blanket underneath your lower back for additional height and comfort.
3.  Lie on your back, and lift your legs onto the chair, so that they are supported and relaxed, the knees are bent, the spine is straight, and your heart is open.
4.  Palms can be by your sides, or on your stomach, or heart, wherever feels right to you~ knowing that you can move them at any time.
5.  Reconnect with your breath, breathing deeply, softening and opening.

Modifications- You can use a pillow underneath your head if you like, or a soft neck support.  Its your practice, do what makes you feel comfortable.  Know that you are facilitating deep healing and relaxation in this asana.

To come out, gently bring your knees to your chest, giving yourself a huge hug, rolling from side to side, massaging that lower back, and eventually rolling to one side, taking as much time as you need to rise up.

Savasana

The wonderful time in our practice when we let go and just release drifting away into a space of deep relaxation and conscious awareness.  Now is the time to let go, to surrender.  Lie on your mattress and soften into it, let your eyes grow heavy.  Let your legs and arms spread wide, and let go of your breath. You will notice that your entire being relaxes, and as it does feel the effects of your before bed yoga practice.  Soften here for as long as you like, before you know it you will be melting into a comfortable, and deep sleep.  Sweet Dreams.

It is important to nourish our bodies not only with our sleep, but with what we sleep on.  Healthy, organic and chemical free bedding, and mattresses are the only way to go.  I want to extend my gratitude to Casper Sleep for asking me to be a part of their blog, check them out for a great mattress, and for those of you who live locally on Vancouver Island, we have a great natural sleep resource right here in Duncan- Rest House .  Sleep easy knowing your health and your body is being supported by nature.


 Recipe Of The Month-

Stuffed Grilled Apples

Yes, You heard me correctly- Grilled Apples Stuffed with dried cherries, currents, almonds and sweetened with a touch of maple syrup. Melt In Your Mouth Goodness. I was gifted with a large box of apples by one of my yoga students this autumn, and my mom inspired me to try them on our grill. As a vegetarian we are always looking for fun ways to cook on the deck, and this is a recipe that can’t be beat.

Ingredients
4 Medium Tart Apples Cored
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 Tbs Coconut Oil
a pinch of saffron

Directions
Place each apple on a piece of foil
Toast coconut until brown.  Melt coconut oil and spices with the coconut.
Combine ingredients and spoon into centre of the apples.
Fold foil over apples, seal tightly.
Grill covered over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until apples are tender.
Open foil tenderly to allow steam to escape.
Enjoy:)


 

photo (5)Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.  I hope that the yoga poses encourage deep rest for your being, and help to nourish your soul.  I hope to write more soon.  As always I am grateful for your support and your time.

Much Love and Peace
Asrael

 

 

 

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