By Debra LeClair Psy.D.
Recent research has validated what certain cultures have know for thousands of years: Allowing yourself to rest both during the day and at night when looking to fall asleep has a profound effect on our physical and mental health. It impacts everything from memory retention to being able to lose weight to our outlook on how good we feel in the world. Now, when I say rest, I mean the point where your body gets to unwind and the chatter in your mind releases into an unburdened, peaceful state.
One way to relax into this state is to lay down where your body is fully supported. For some, that could look like just laying on your back with the body making full contact with the floor, mat or mattress. While for others, there may be need for some extra support, like a pillow or rolled-up blanket placed under the knees. The idea is to be able to feel like you can let go of having to hold any part of yourself up, and instead you can just let your muscles release and your body sink down into a deepening relaxation.
This practice known as Savasana, is borrowed from yoga. It is is done at the end of a yoga session to allow for assimilation of all the work that was just done. But we are always doing work, so using Savasana helps you to truly take a moment, assimilate what has been completed so far and to soothe the nervous system. This then makes it easier to come from a place of calm to either move into the next part of your day or to let go into a truly beneficial sleep.
Yoga Journal has released a free (and short) download you can use to ease yourself into into this favorite way to a little bliss. Go to http://blogs.yogajournal.com/audio/savasana.mp3 to try it yourself.