I typically work out first thing in the morning. On occasion, I’ll exercise during the workday, a yoga class here or a boxing class there, but never at night. Or, at least, that was the case until last month when I joined a Tuesday night running group.
After the first session, I couldn’t wait to get my exhausted body home to eat, and then crash into a deep sleep. I’d been worried about having enough post-work stamina to complete the intense workouts but not at all concerned with how they’d affect my sleep cycle.
So I was both surprised and frustrated when sleep eluded me. Tossing and turning for the better part of the night meant that I was practically a waste of space the next day. I had to figure something out or be forced to abandon my new workout.
“Oh yeah, you’ve got too much adrenaline,” my running pal Steph Creaturo, who also happens to own a yoga studio, explained knowingly when I told her I was having trouble falling asleep.
“This is where yoga is fantastic for runners — simple poses like child’s pose or legs up the wall switch the position of the head and heart — the head is usually above the heart because we’re upright beings. When we flip the head/heart position, your central nervous system (a.k.a., your main control panel) gets the message that it’s totally A-OK to start to chill out a bit.”
As a longtime yoga devotee, I was familiar with the poses Creaturo recommended, and so after my next nighttime run, after I showered and ate dinner, I settled onto the floor, my butt as close to the wall as I could get it. I placed my legs up against it, as straight as possible, and I let my arms splay above my head, cactus-style (just like in the photo above!).
I breathed in and out gently, and I swear I could feel my heart rate slowing down. I could practically feel my body floating away into a more relaxed state. After five or six minutes, I gently hugged my legs into my chest and made my way up to sit. It was like Creaturo said, “Once the message is received [that it’s OK for your body to relax], your nervous system downshifts and you can exhale a bit more, allowing the body to focus on chilling out than ramping up.”
I got into bed with a book and read for 15 minutes or so before my eyes got heavy. I didn’t fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow — but I never do. I did, however, get a good night’s sleep. The tossing and turning that had come to define my Tuesday nights was absent, and I woke up feeling rested and ready for the day.
It was the perfect calming remedy. One-size fits all. If you find yourself struggling with insomnia, you have to give this a try. It requires no equipment — just your body and a wall.
Originally published at www.themuse.com on May 4, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com