Month: March 2019

And so, to bed!

“Sleep well” is more than a good wish: sleeping well is crucial for our health.  Quality Sleep helps us to function better, remember more, be more active when awake and even improve our outlook on life.

We all know that a major cause sleeplessness is a racing mind, unable to settle, just focused on all of those things we could have done or should be doing. Yet quality sleep is something we need and crave, so here are my Top 7 Tips for quality sleep.

1. Learn to Love the Relax Hour

Settle yourself a good hour before you even think of going to bed. Turn off your electronics, take yourself away from your computer, don’t let yourself look at your phone and certainly not your social media accounts.

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of ‘just checking’ email before bed. Messages which you wouldn’t think twice about in the morning, that you’d deal with in a flash, can fill your head at midnight, causing a whir all night long.

Same with social media. You might just see one upsetting thing, or something that causes some excitement in your brain and there you go – say bye-bye to your night’s quality sleep.

It may be a cliche, but it works to run yourself a hot bath and have a good long bathe. That really will soak away your worries and prepare you mentally for the next stage in your day, which should be all about relaxation and sleep.

2. Learn some relaxing moves

Many of us don’t get back home from work until late, so we have to do our yoga in the time we have. For me, I used to do an fast paced Vinyasa class in the evening….then I’d be absolutely buzzing! After that I’d eat late then wonder why on earth I couldn’t sleep.

I would recommend doing a much more calm form of yoga in the evening. Something relaxing and nourishing like a yin or restorative class instead. Both styles focus in breath work, relaxation and release, just the thing to get you in the right mind set for sleep.  Why not try different styles in the evening and see make a note of how they make you feel?

3. Keep Your Cool!

We tend to sleep better when we’re slightly cooler at night-time than we would be in the daytime. A good way to prepare your body to cool down for the night is to have a hot bath before bed, as the body will feel cooler in comparison to the heat.

If you can, keep a window open for the fresh air to cool you during the night. Wrap up warm under the covers, but your face can keep cool in the open.

4. Get Dark

It’s been proven that a truly dark environment helps the sleeping process. So get dark – get blackout curtains if needs be, or even indulge in an eye mask. These can be really relaxing in themselves, as it can feel very comforting to have an eye mask on. So why not try a luxurious, lavender-scented eye mask and get some seriously dark kip?

5. Journal

Always sleep with a journal by your bed so that any ‘useful’ thoughts you have during the night, or ground-breaking ‘Eureka’ moments can be recorded and you don’t have to think about them any more.

Your journal is also really useful for writing your gratitude practice down before you go to sleep – it’s very hard to feel anxious/angry as well as grateful. So writing down 3 things for which you are  grateful for before you go to sleep is a deeply relaxing and grounding practice, likely to result in a lovely relaxed state of mind and conducive of a good night’s sleep.

6. The Morning

I also think that what you do during the day has a big impact on how you sleep at night. Aim for a dose of daily activity such as some dynamic yoga during the morning. Great to wake you up if you’re feeling a bit blurry-eyed and need a gentle-jolt to get moving in the day.

Also remember to get as much fresh air as you can during the day and take a brisk walk, cycle ride or a run every day, moving more in the air will help move any stagnant energy and your body will just feel so much better in the evening and ready for a good night’s sleep.

Now, where are my PJ’s?!


Quieten your mind and let your soul speak

Sukhasana or ‘easy pose’ may not be one of those aspirational Instagram-worthy asanas we’re likely to see on the front of many yoga magazines. But maybe it should. Tune into yourself for a moment – is your breathing short and shallow? Is your jaw clenched? Is your mind racing? If the answer to any of these is a resounding YES, then we need to take time to steer into the slow lane.

Busy means good and stressed equals productive

In a fast-paced modern world where ‘busy’ means ‘good’ and ‘stressed’ equals ‘productive’, we seem to have lost the ability to simply sit and be. Along with a high-intensity work and social schedule, many of us practice hard core workouts or fast flowing, strong yoga classes – replacing one stress with  another.

We need to slow down and experience simply being once again

Sitting, too has been demonised as a killer, and if we’re sitting, we’re probably beavering away at a computer or driving in busy traffic, stressing about getting to our destination. Indeed, the amount of pressure on our bodies and minds is mounting, but thankfully so too is the awareness of how much we really need to slow down and experience simply being once again.  We’ve made things hard for ourselves and felt guilty about making time for ourselves. It’s time to find balance. It’s time to find ease.

We are shaped by our thoughts

A traditional seated posture for meditation, the name Sukhasana combines the Sanskrit word sukha, meaning ‘ease’, ‘pleasant’, or more literally ‘good space’, and asana, meaning ‘posture’ or ‘seat’. In yoga texts it is said to promote mental and physical balance.  One school of yoga thought is that Sukhasana and the other meditation positions were actually the end goal of a physical practice – everything else was intended to prepare the body to sit in silence and quiet the mind. Not so easy after all….

Whilst the physical postures help to focus the mind, aid in a healthier body and burn off excess energies,  it’s the happenings of the mind that ancient yogis were more interested in. Indeed, a famous line from the Buddha states – “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think”. 

Sukhasana may be one of the most important postures

Today, we have so many ways to distract ourselves from the mind – from social media, Netflix….you name it, we can happily fill our hours with busy-ness.  It’s easy for our senses to be pulled in all directions  and to always be in a rush to keep up with deadlines and goals set not just by others, but by ourselves too. If the ‘goal’ of yoga is  ‘calming the fluctuations of the mind’ then we can start by finding stillness in the body. If you feel the speed of your life really has become habitual,  evident in racing thoughts, physical and emotional tension, stress and shallow breathing,  then Sukhasana may be one of the most important postures you practice on a daily basis.

The ability to sit and simply be – to observe the room around you, to look up from the phone screen and open your eyes to the present moment – is something we can all do in order to literally slow the racing mind, and allow the feeling of speed to dissipate and release from our limbs. If we can actively practice finding ease and stillness, we have the opportunity to engage fully with the moment at hand, time to slow down, and rebalance ourselves before heading back out into the world again. The more we do this, perhaps the more we’ll be able to bring a little of that stillness and ease with us wherever we go.