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Whether you experience chronic or intermittent insomnia, a program of relaxing asana and easy meditation performed at bedtime can help you slow down mind and body and ease the transition into slumber, says yoga teacher and sleep scientist Roger Cole.

Cole suggests starting in Salamba Paschimottanasana (Supported Seated Forward Bend). Sit on several folded blankets or a bolster, facing a chair. Place a blanket or other padding on the chair and lean forward, resting your head and arms on the seat. Stay there for three to five minutes. If you have time, experiment with other supported forward bends (seated or standing), with your head resting on a chair, block, or pillow. Or fold over your hips in Balasana (Child's Pose), with your head supported.

into sleep head- nodding exhaustion wears off, you wake up. The response is physiological— if you're tense and your hodv is aroused, it's difficult for the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates relaxation, to override the stress-reactive sympathetic nervous system.

To address this, Roger Cole, a sleep research scientist and Iyengar Yoga teacher in Del Mar, California, designed a program that uses yoga and behavioral changes to help train the body to sleep.

"If you are going to fall asleep, you have to set up local conditions for sleep," says Cole, who also writes Yoga Journal's Anatomy column (seepage in). This means keeping your sleeping space adequately dark and comfortable, and your skin warm but your core COOK Also, you must fee) calm. Anxiety7 activates the amygdala, apart of the brain involved with the regulation of emotions. And that can signal other parts of the brain to trigger physical stress reactions, such as a racing heart, high blood pressure, and tense muscles,

Next, slowly move into supported Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose), using a folded blanket or two to support your pelvis and sacrum; let the tailbone hang off the edge of the blanket. Relax here for 10 to 20 minutes.

Before lying down to sleep, sit cross-legged in Sukhasana (Easy Pose), with your pelvis elevated on one or more folded blankets and your back against a wall, spine long, and shoulders relaxed. Allow your thoughts to arise and just watch them float by. When you notice that you've begun to follow a thought, simply notice that this has happened. This thought-watching becomes your new thought to watch, without judgment. Start with five minutes and try sitting for longer periods over time.

And then, when it's time to sleep, cover your eyes with something that provides both darkness and very gentle pressure, like an eye bag.

Cole says. This activation keeps your internal systems buzzing and, literally, warm. For the body's internal temperature to cool enough to encourage rest, brain activity has to slow down. That's where behavioral training comes in.

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