3 Simple Techniques to Improve Sleep

Can’t sleep at night? Hard time shutting off your brain when it’s time to sleep? Do you experience getting a second wind late at night? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back to sleep? 

I can relate! I’ve always been a night person, and seem to tap into my creative side in the quiet hours of the night when everyone is asleep. Now as a new mama to a 11 week old baby, you might think the night owl in me is in her element.  It’s been an interesting balance craving both sleep & the quiet moments at night when my husband and baby are sleeping and I can harness some excess creative energy.  These are 3 tips that I practice when I know I need my sleep & it’s time to quiet my mind.

1.     Elevate your legs up the wall. This can be practiced in bed by resting your legs up by your headboard, so when you get sleepy you can pivot around in bed and sleep soundly. This restorative posture (Viparita Karani) has many known benefits of increasing circulation, moving stagnant/restless energy, and reversing the flow of energy in the body.

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2.     Belly Breath. With your legs up the wall, rest your hands at your lower belly.  Inhale imagine filling your lower belly as if you were filling up a balloon and exhale slowly and easily.  Deep diaphragmatic breaths are deeply calming to the nervous system, and help with harmonizing emotions.

3.     Serenity essential oil. This 100% pure organic essential oil blend has been called “Sleepy-Time Potion,” and is a designed to be a calming & relaxing blend. The essential oils in the Serenity blend are lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla bean extract. I like to place this oil on my chest and neck as I prepare to elevate my legs up the wall & practice deep belly breaths.  Diffusing this oil in your bedroom as you go to sleep will also aid in a restful deep sleep.

As I read about putting my baby to sleep, in creating healthy sleep habits I think how much I’d like to get on the same healthy sleep cycle. A take-away is watching for drowsy signs and “catching the wave” when baby is drowsy to put them down to sleep then, before adrenaline kicks in (or that second wind) and they really resist sleep. Establishing healthy sleep habits for babies & for ourselves can be tricky… so if you’re anything like me, you know you love your sleep yet sometimes it’s challenging to shut the brain off or give yourself permission to rest when you’re drowsy.  Try these 3 simple techniques & I’d love to hear your experience! 

Guest Teacher: AcroYoga coming June 28th!

We're excited to be hosting Lori Flower from Burlington, Vermont to teach two playful AcroYoga workshops later this month! Lori was one of my first yoga teachers that I really resonated with when I was in college, so it's really exciting for me to have her come teach at the studio! Both of these workshops are open to all levels, and no yoga experience is necessary to join in! 

AcroYoga is a dynamic, playful partner based and community building practice that can focus on therapeutic and/or acrobatic elements. You will learn about and experience the various roles of Flying, Basing, and Spotting.  Check out Lori "flying" in this fun video! 

Benefits of this practice include: 

-strengthening

-feeling supported

-trusting 

-letting go

-increased vitality

-laughter

-lightness

-grounded connections 

In the afternoon Parent/Child "playshop," you can enjoy connecting with your child and community through playful, creative movement inspired by AcroYoga. You will learn techniques and partner up to make play safe and fun for everyone! Lori will even be co-teaching the Parent/Child playshop with her adorable daugther, Aura. 

 Pre-registration is required to reserve your spot, and space is limited! :) 

Pre-registration is required to reserve your spot, and space is limited! :) 

 

 

Kind and Guiding Heart, Peaceful Mind -Kristin Thalheimer

Twenty years ago, I latched onto a definition of self-confidence that has helped me over the years: Self-confidence is knowing that once you get there, you'll figure it out. For example, if I ask myself, "Which line do I stand in at the Department of Motor Vehicles?" I can answer, "I don't know, but once I get there, I will read the signs and/or ask someone. I'm confident I can figure this out." This definition doesn't imply that I have all the answers right now; it means that I have the wherewithal to ask the right questions, make the right mistakes, and do what needs to be done to eventually figure out what I'll need to figure out. It means I am confident I will have the inner resources necessary to act. In essence, I have faith - faith that comes from the heart - the inner resources to guide me (hey, being in the right line at the DMV is a big deal).

Just recently, I added a new definition to my working repertoire of helpful ideas. This one is about anxiety, and it goes like this: Anxiety is my brain trying to solve a problem that's unsolvable, or for which I don't yet have enough information. So, for example, if my boss asks to meet with me first thing Monday morning, I could spend the whole weekend being anxious about it because it fits the definition: my brain wants to figure out what is going to happen, what I should say or not say, and my brain doesn't have all the information necessary to figure this out because we (my brain and I) don't even know what the boss wants to talk about!

Sheesh, anxiety. Not a great way to spend a weekend.

The amusing part (to me) about discovering these definitions 20 years apart is that the second one, if it is to be optimally helpful, is actually a prequel of the first. It's like when they added a Star Wars movie that theoretically came before the FIRST big major blockbuster. This was a confusing and somewhat unsettling cinematic event. Because really, (back to my definitions) calming anxiety about any given situation - knowing that my brain was just doing its brainy thing! - would have really been helpful in giving me faith that I would have the means to figure it out when I got there.

Well, better in mid-life than not at all.

My brain is a good one. I've used it a lot over the years. Its real and major function is to solve problems and keep me safe. That's what a brain is designed to do. So when my brain meets a problem it can't solve, such as what to say to my boss when I don't even know what she wants to talk about, it spins. You can practically hear it whirring and stirring and trying so diligently to figure it out, like a good brain would. But it can't. Poor brain, its intentions are so good, but my brain is not equipped with a crystal ball, so it just keeps trying. That's anxiety.*

That's until I say (to my brain), "Hey quit it! Stop trying to figure this out. It's not possible right now with this information." And THEN I invoke the first definition, or really now the second, about self-confidence: you can figure it out when you get there! Lovely! Anxiety be gone - self-confidence takes its place.

I love to think about my brain wanting to solve problems to keep me safe. It's looking after me. And even though I'm well into my grown-up years (I keep mentioning that), it's really nice to have this entity care so deeply for my well-being. It wants to help me keep my job and figure out which line to stand in at the DMV. My brain is like a bulldozer, pushing dirt and heavy obstacles out of the way with logic and plans and research and investigations, and creating a path so that my heart can, with all of my best interests, walk through the cleared out path. Then my heart can do its job, which is to guide me, that is, to do the right thing when we (my brain, my heart, and myself) all get there.

Whatever it is my boss wants to talk about, isn't it best to show up with a kind and guiding heart and a peaceful mind? Wouldn't it be great to get business done with the DMV and still have a kind heart and peaceful mind?

Stay tuned for the next pre/sequel. Who knows what definitions I will have 20 years from now, but I'm excited to find out.

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*My definition of anxiety is purely my own and may not come close to fitting the circumstances for anyone else or for any other kind of anxiety. Anxiety, including PTSD, takes many forms, ranges greatly in severity, and stems from many different issues.

Energy Medicine Yoga

Hear Lauren describe and teach 4 simple techniques for waking up and grounding energy in the body! Click this link to download Lauren's short video. 

Energy Medicine Yoga is a new discipline that Lauren Walker created, integrating the 9 energy systems of the body into a tantra based vinyasa yoga class. EMYoga teaches students how the body uses energy from 'waking the energies up,’ to getting the energy to move in the right direction to building, harnessing and directing energy. Students will learn powerful ways to move and clear lymph, strengthen the immune system, balance the hormones and build deep core strength and flexibility. The classes are a mix of lecture and practice, and they are fun, informative, and transforming.

This is a workshop you won't want to miss! If you're a yoga teacher, learn how to incorporate moving energy in the body into your class. Lauren is traveling from Montana to teach throughout New England, and has just published her first book, "Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice."  Lauren has been teaching yoga for 17 years and is a certified Energy Medicine practitioner. 

Our Breath is Our Greatest Teacher and Healer -Tania Neuschafer Zuckerman

Our breath is the most amazing healer. It can help us to feel centered, feel more peace, gain more energy, and settle our mind. But did you also know it’s our most amazing teacher? Try just this simple and powerful technique of simply observing your breath to learn more about what’s going on for you right now.

Begin to just pay attention to your breath. Where do you feel it most in your body? Any areas that feel breath “starved”? How is your breath moving- is it smooth and rhythmic, controlled and choppy, thin or full? Where is it originating? When you pay attention to it, what happens? Ask yourself- what is my breath telling me right now about how I am feeling? Be observant and gentle. Now ask- what is my breath telling me right now about what I am thinking? Finally, ask for your own innate body wisdom to show you through the breath what you need right now. Give yourself the gift of following it.

On a day to day basis, how we are breathing often replicates how we are experiencing our life. For example, if you find that your exhale is forced or controlled and there’s tension in your abdominal muscles when you breathe, you may find themes in your life where you just don’t feel you can trust someone else to do it right, or that you need to stay in control. If you find you often have a shallow breath, with little breath energy in the chest area, you may find a lack of motivation or joy in your life. It goes on and on. Our breath is our most amazing teacher. Thankfully, our breath is also our most amazing healer. As we begin to breathe more consciously, we can literally change deep-rooted patterns in our life that wreak havoc on our well-being.

Breathwork, also called Therapeutic, Holotropic, Transformational Breathwork and Re-Birthing is a specific breathing technique that has been around for centuries as a form of pranayama specifically used for integration. In the 1960’s Stanislov Groff used this type of breath with patients battling cancer, and Leonard Orr found that people using this technique could integrate traumas in their life as far back as their own birth experience.

Today, Breathwork is widely used as an effective tool for changing restrictive breathing patterns and integrating suppressions in the emotional body but the benefits go far beyond that and include the release of toxins, strengthening the immune system, creating brain wave patterns similar to deep sleep, and increasing physical energy.

In the September 23rd, 2013 issue of the New Yorker, there is an article about American clothing designer, Eileen Fisher who said "...this thing called Breathwork...you lie on the floor breathing in a specific way, a kind of heavy breathing that gets you into a sort of heavy dream state. You go through all this stuff and let it go. It's like thirty years of therapy in one hour."

Do you want to experience for yourself the amazing potential of your breath and begin to return to the breath you were born with- a breath that is rhythmic, flowing, responsive to what we are doing, and flowing effortlessly with vitality and ease? Come explore what an amazing teacher and healer your breath is at one of Tania's monthly Breath & Beyond workshops. 

Tania Neuschafer Zuckerman has been facilitating individuals in Breathwork empowerment for over 10 years. Tania sees individual clients and leads group classes and workshops in and around Southern Maine. To learn more visit http://www.spiraldancebreathwork.com/.