Just like Savasana is one of the most important parts of our practice, sleep is one of the most important parts of our day. Without sleep, we couldn't function. Our bodies need rest.
It's great for children to set up a bedtime routine:
-Make sure the bedroom is quiet, cool, and dark.
-Try to go to bed the same time every night. Your body will get used to winding down to get ready for rest.
-Do plenty of moving during the day. Play, run, dance, ride your bike, take a walk. Get that energy out at least 3 hours before bedtime so your body will be ready for sleep.
-Don't eat a heavy meal before bed. Make sure you eat dinner several hours before lying down to sleep. If your body is concentrating on digesting, it won't be able to concentrate on sleeping.
-Don't drink sodas with caffeine in them, expecially in the evening. Caffeine makes you hyper and jittery - exaclty how your don't want to feel before bed!
-Have a bedtime routine. Do the same relaxing activities before bed - read a book, take a warm shower or bath, draw or journal, listen to quiet music, meditate.
There are also some Yoga Poses to help ease you into sleep - poses you can do right in your bed or bedside!
-Fists of Fire: If you have a crazy amount of energy that you just need to burn off before lying down, come to stand up into a Lunge Pose. As you raise your arms up, just like you would for Warrior 1, take a deep inhale. Quickly pull the arms back down drawing your fists to your sides and take a forceful exhale! Inhale up, exhale pull! Repeat going faster and faster. Come to Mountain Pose, close the eyes, even the breath, then repeat on the other side.
-Slow Down: Take some easy stretches to slow down the body. Do whatever feels good - Forward Bends, Cat and Cow, Knee Down Twists, Nose to Knee, Child's Pose, Reclined Butterfly. Listen to your body.
-Open Your Heart: Many times our days are spent with our bodies hunched over - at our desks, carrying heavy back packs, doing homework, playing video games. Come into a Bridge Pose right in your bed. Bend your knees and place your feet flat. Lift your hips up to the sky, leaving your head and shoulders down, getting a slight arch in the back. Open the shoulders, clasping hands and straightening arms underneathe your body. Breathe.
-Deep Belly Breathing: Lying on your back, place your hands on your belly. As you inhale watch your belly rise, making room for your lungs to expand. As you exhale, watch the belly fall pushing out all the stale air. To make it a little more interesting, spell your whole name - first, middle, and last - as you breathe. Inhale deeply and on the exhale say the first letter of your name silently to yourself. Inhale deeply and on the exhale say the second letter of your name silently to yourself. And so on...
-Legs Up the Wall: We've all had that restless feeling when lying in bed - the feeling like your feet will never stop moving. When this happens, take a Legs Up the Wall Pose. Sit as close as you can to the wall, and swing your feet up the wall as your back lies flat on the bed or the ground in an "L" shape. Let the blood flow from the feet. Relax into it.
-Relax the Mind: Sometimes it seems like we will never stop thinking. But when it's time to sleep, it's time to quiet the mind. Visualize a most peaceful place - somewhere you feel safe and calm. Imagine every little detail. Go there in your mind. Use a mantra - find a calming word or statement, like "peace", "love", or "I am safe.", "I am calm.", and repeat them in your mind over and over again. Try Sa, Ta, Ma, Na.
Just be aware. Help ease your child into a more restful sleep so he or she can shine bright every day!