One of the lessons I learned during National Day of Unplugging last weekend was about sleeping. I discovered a better way to enjoy sleeping by turning my smartphone off and allowing myself to wake up without the alarm on Saturday and Sunday. Read my opinion piece on unplugging that was published in the Afro-American Newspaper to learn more.
On Sunday evening, I decided to use Sleep Awareness Week (March 11-17) to add several mindful sleep practices to my daily routine. Check out the practices I used below. Since today is the last day of Sleep Awareness Week, consider trying one or more of them.
Place your smartphone and digital devices in your living room, kitchen, or home office. Mute the sound on your phone ringer and notifications. If you can, turn the phone off. Use an alarm clock. Muting the sound on my phone and placing it in my living room really helped.
Give yourself a few hours off from using social media, email or texting in the evenings. Set a curfew. Try 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. I tried a curfew of 11:15 p.m. to 8 a.m. on several days.
Express gratitude for people and experiences. This practice opens my heart.
Say a forgiveness prayer for yourself and others before you go to sleep at night. My forgiveness prayers help me release anger, disappointment, grudges, judgments, thoughts, and stories I have made up about myself and others. They help me clear my mind and cleanse my spirit and heart.
Drink your favorite decaf tea before bed. I love to sprinkle turmeric in hot water or use Trader Joe’s turmeric and ginger tea.
Use your favorite sheets and blankets on your bed. I love my purple sheets and cream blanket.
If you are NOT allergic to scents, smudge yourself and your bedroom or home with a smudge stick to remove any negative energy. I use my smudge stick in the morning and evening.
If you are NOT allergic to scents, burn your favorite incense or candle in your bedroom or home an hour or two before you sleep. You can also use a room freshener with essential oils to spray your bedroom or home. I like to use Mrs. Meyer’s lavender room freshener.
Take an evening shower or bath to relax yourself. Showers are my favorites.
Meditate for a 1, 5, 15, 20 or 30 minutes before going to sleep. Meditation with breathing exercises is a great mindfulness practice that can help you slow down and become aware of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. It can also help you go within and connect to your higher self. I like to practice a short meditation while laying in child’s pose, one of my favorite yoga poses, before going to sleep. Listen to my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast Series for a guided mindfulness meditation. Here’s a guided compassion meditation to open your heart. Check out my Mindful Living podcast playlist for more resources.
Try gentle yoga. Like I mentioned above, child’s pose helps me relax before sleep. Go to YouTube and try my teacher Faith Hunter’s gentle yoga session. Also, do a search for gentle yoga or restorative yoga for beginners on YouTube. Check out Yoga In Bed: 20 Asanas to Do in Pajamas by Edward Vilga, one of my favorite yoga books. Learn more about my journey as a gentle yoga teacher (includes my yoga, reiki, and meditation services) and my yoga-inspired novel, Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon). My novel tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something yoga teacher who is on a self-discovery journey that allows her to heal, forgive, and reinvent her life with art, meditation, mindfulness, spirituality, therapy, yoga, travel, and the support of family and friends.
If you are unable to try these tips today, I encourage you to use Sleep Awareness Week as inspiration for getting more rest in your life in 2018. Try one or more of the tips and let me know what happens in the comment section.
That’s why I am attending the 2016 Self-Care Kickstart Retreat hosted by SelfCarebyAisha.com founder and coach Aisha Moore on Saturday, January 16 from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road, SE, Washington, DC. Go here to listen to my December 30th podcast interview with Aisha about the retreat.
During the Self-care Kickstart Retreat, I will teach a restorative yoga class that will guide you through deep breathing exercises and yoga poses. These self-care tools will help you create awareness, balance, and calm in your spirit, heart, mind, body, and life. Click here to listen to my podcast about the class and retreat.
Go here to learn more about my yoga journey and teaching services.
For more information about the Retreat ($97 fee), go here. Register ASAP. There are only a few slots left!
Mondays are all about yoga in my social media world (confession: every day is a yoga day in my real life world). Today, I am savoring the juicy feelings of gratitude I experienced while leading my workshop on Fierce Living from a Woman’s Creative Heart on August 22 at Embrace Yoga in Washington, DC.
The workshop gave me an opportunity to serve and share from my heart. It also blessed me with two creative yoga workshop participants, Krystal Tingle and Rhiannon Landesberg. Together, we practiced breathing exercises and our favorite yoga poses as we journaled and shared our reflections.
During the workshop, I wore my “Karma: Aham Prema” VIDA scarf I received the night before. It was a special moment because the scarf was created through my partnership with VIDA in May. We used my painting that appears on the cover of my yoga-inspired novel, “Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One” (Amazon) to make the design. It is a part of my VIDA Voices scarf collection which include three additional scarves that use artwork from my books, “That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery” and “Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online” (Amazon). Click here to learn more about my scarf collection.
Many thanks to Embrace Yoga and my yoga teacher Faith Hunter for blessing me with an opportunity to serve and share from my heart. Thank you Krystal and Rhiannon for attending the workshop.
ALIVE is #Yogaat50 Lesson 8. When I practice yoga, I slow down and reconnect with every part of my body, mind, spirit, and heart. Through my yoga practice, I enter the present moment and become fully ALIVE. What does yoga do for you?
FOCUS is #Yogaat50 Lesson 7. For 20 years, yoga has offered me an opportunity to focus my breath, gaze, spirit, and energy so that they move as one when I practice poses, meditation, and Reiki. When I leave my yoga mat and move into the world, it has given me breathing and stretching tools to navigate emotions, experiences and interactions with others. What has yoga helped you focused on?
OPPORTUNITY is #Yogaat50 Lesson 6. When I was studying to become a yoga teacher at Flow Yoga Center in 2005, I had a homework assignment that required a definition of yoga. Here’s the definition I created and continue to use in my yoga practice, classes, and workshops: YOGA is Your Opportunity to Graciously Accept yourself and life in the present moment. What is your definition of yoga? What opportunity has yoga offered you?
ONENESS is #Yogaat50 Lesson 5. Through practicing yoga, I have learned firsthand that I am connected to everyone and everything in the universe. Having this awareness of oneness reminds me to honor everyone and everything as I would myself. On days when I choose to ignore this awareness, I’m grateful my yoga practice brings me back to the truth of my being. That usually happens when I sit in child’s pose and give myself Reiki.
I spent the weekend at the WordPress Press Publish Conference in Portland, Oregon. During my talk on Blogging for Obama, I invited the audience to take a digital wellness moment that included several yoga deep breathing exercises. Much later in the day, I talked to someone about my “Yoga Everyday” approach to living and teaching yoga. It’s pretty simple. I help everyday people incorporate gentle and office yoga into everyday of their lives while often wearing everyday clothing.
#Yogaat50 Lesson 4 is EVERYDAY. My very first yoga teacher Gloria taught me that yoga begins with the breath in 1995. She also encouraged me to practice yoga EVERYDAY by breathing deeply and mindfully. She also encouraged me to add a yoga pose to my daily practice. I have followed her wisdom and continue to share it with my yoga, Reiki, and creativity coaching clients. What does your yoga practice look and feel like?
Today, I’m bringing #YogaMonday back to the blog with a five-week series entitled #Yogaat50 Lessons. Each week, I will share a lesson I learned through my yoga practice and service as a yoga teacher.
Here’s LESSON 1: Namaste helps me honor and celebrate my true identity and connection to others from the inside out. Guess where I took my first yoga class? Aboard a cruise down the Nile River during an African American studies trip with Kemetian scholar Tony Browder in 1995. I was 30 and interested in the deep breathing and stretching benefits of yoga for support with my running practice. When I returned home from my trip, I found a yoga teacher who provided one-on-one instruction in my home. Her name was Gloria. She taught me how to breathe deeply and do poses that eased the tension and tightness in my hamstrings, hips, legs, and lower back. She explained the meaning of Namaste and showed me how to chant it at the end of each session. Over the past 20 years, my home practice and service to others as a yoga teacher has deepened my understanding of Namaste. It has become a sacred self-care ritual that reminds me to to look within, accept, and celebrate my true identity as a spiritual being living a human experience with strengths and weaknesses. Saying Namaste also taught me to appreciate and value the true identity of everyone and everything in the universe, and our bond of oneness. What does saying Namaste mean to you?
Today I read an interview featuring Erykah Badu in Mantra Magazine. Erykah’s comments about her newfound love of yoga and mantras inspired me. Here’s what she said:
“I love yoga. I started taking yoga at a gym and I met the most wonderful instructor who teaches you in Sanskrit as well as in English. She repeats everything in Sanskrit. There’s something about the vibration of this language that really resonates with me and helps me to focus more on the breathing and not so much on the stretching.”
Her words made me think about some of my favorite mantras and how they have helped me strengthen my meditation, Reiki healing, and yoga practices. Click here to listen to Krishna Das chant OmNamah Shivaya which means “I bow to my inner self.” This sacred mantra helps me to surrender my ego to my highest self. It helps me live in the present moment. It opens my heart to Creator’s wisdom and blessings for my life.
Do you have any favorite mantras? How do they impact you?