The Monday after the switch to Daylight Savings Time in the Spring is National Napping Day. It’s natural to feel a little sleep-deprived when we “lose” an hour of sleep. Taking time to rest can help us recover.
While technically one should not nap in yoga, savasana or final relaxation pose can give you the benefits of a nice long nap. The goal is to let the physical body relax as if you’re asleep while the mind stays alert.
Seems simple enough, right? Not so for everyone. Whether it’s a challenge to quiet the mind or to stay awake, many people struggle. If you’re someone who struggles with final relaxation, ere are a few tips that might be helpful.
- If you tend to fall asleep: Come into your version of the pose but lie with your forearm raised. If you fall asleep, your arm will waiver or fall and wake you up. (If you plan to try this, you should let your teacher know prior to class so they won’t think you’re trying to get their attention.) You may also want to put some padding under your arm so that it won’t thud or hurt.
- If you are physically uncomfortable, use some props:
- A folded blanket or bolster under the knees can alleviate low back pain;
- A blanket or block under the head and neck can help if lying flat creates indigestion or dizziness; or
- If being on your back is not comfortable or safe for you, you can do a side lying version of the pose.
- If you can’t quiet the mind, this may sound strange, but don’t stress about it. We all have days where it’s a challenge and our mind replays events from the day or we run through our to-do list. Be compassionate with yourself and come back to the present moment whenever you think about it. If you need something to focus on, there are a number of different methods that may work.
- Focus on the breath. Follow the breath as you feel it move into the nostrils, along the throat, and into the lungs. Notice the quality of the breath. Is it smooth and even? Do you pause at the top or bottom of the breath? When does it feel warm or cool?
- If there is an activity that makes you calm, imagine that you are doing it. Maybe it’s a long run, coloring, cooking, or something else where you are totally in the moment. It might even be your asana practice.
- Another visualization technique is to imagine you are sitting next to your favorite body of water or in a garden and try to imagine that location — not just the sights but also the sounds, smells, quality of the air or water, or whatever else helps you be there fully.
- Mantras can also help focus and calm the mind. If you have a favorite short, positive statement, feel free to repeat it silently to yourself. I like to use a couple from Biff Mithoefer: “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out,” or “Breathing in, I know this is the perfect moment. Breathing out, I know this is the only moment.”
May you find a little relaxation today.
In peace and stillness,