Do you feel tired at the end of the day? I sure do. Not terribly tired, just a bit weary and more than ready to hit the hay sooner rather than later (hey - Club Doona is the cool place to be, right?). Sometimes I have trouble getting to sleep though. There are too many things and thoughts and wishes that run through my brainpan at high speed squeaking 'YOU HAVE TO GET THIS DONE NOW'.
Now, Rational Me knows that that is not a true fact - they are not things that need to be done between the hours of 7-9pm. Those hours are for unwinding, and are meant to be spent either by yourself decompressing or connecting with loved ones. But once in this tired place Rational Me doesn't function so well. It’s more like Hyper-Emotional Strung Out Me that doesn’t know which way to go or what to focus on first.
SO. I've developed a little bedtime self-care plan. It doesn't take long, and it has the duel purpose of organising the squealing brainpan AND calming me down. Sound like something you might like to try out? It’s pretty simple - it takes 20 minutes tops and the hardest thing you have to do is put the kettle on….
Lets get started
After dinner I make myself a cup of delicious tea. For a while now it's been green tea with roasted rice (mmmmmm yummy phytonutrients) and while I'm enjoying it, I get a piece of paper and write down my goals for the next day. That way, the mind-squeakers get heard and prioritised. I figure out exactly what didn't get done today, and what needs to get done tomorrow. I write a list, there's numbering involved and often a bit of a flow chart - whatever I need to give order to the chaos in my head. Then five minutes later I put it away and leave it behind. There is nothing I can do about it right now - everything I need to do is organised for tomorrow and it will get done then. In some ways I am quite strict with myself and I make sure to let it go. Tomorrow is no longer an immediate concern - right now is.
Then I put my feet up. Literally - I lie on the floor and stick my legs up the wall. You Yogis and Yoginis out there will know this pose as Viparita Karani (aka supported shoulder stand). In Sanskrit Viparita means ‘inverted’ and Karani means ‘in action’ (because everyone reads Sanskrit, right?), so essentially this pose inverts the normal actions and reactions of the body that occur when it is sitting and standing. It takes our normal bodily processes, flips them around and reverses them.
The upside-downness of this pose does a few things. Firstly it gives our circulation a gentle shift towards our torso and head, which is so lovely after a day of sitting and standing. It also allows our lymphatic fluids to drain back into your pelvis, alleviated swollen ankles and allowing fresh fluids to flow back down to your legs when you eventually get up. Also, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika it’s meant to make grey hairs and wrinkles miraculously vanish after 6 months of daily practice (neat, hey?). Mostly though, Viparita Karani shows us how much can be gained through inaction. It emphasizes that our still, Yin, feminine side needs to be nurtured just as much as our dynamic, Yang, masculine side - an idea that we all know but don’t always engage with.
Basically, this pose calms my farm in a big way. Especially if I take big deep inhales and slowly let out big deep exhales. I breathe into my diaphragm and lower belly, expand my rib cage and allow my pelvis to move with my breathing. I become completely connected with the movement of the air coming in and out through my nose.
It's soothing. It's calming.
After about 10 minutes of this I'm ready for a few slow stretches (some pigeons, some twists) and then it's bed time. And the wonderful thing about this little routine? Once I'm done there's generally no more noises in my head.
So go on, put your feet up ...literally. Take a deep breath and let your day go. Maybe even have a cuppa tea to go with it.
Let me know how you go xxx
P.S. If you’ve got high blood pressure, glaucoma or hernia-type problems, maybe give the legs-up-the-wall pose a miss. It won’t be super pleasant for you. Instead try some super simple forward bends!