As the sun goes down, lower the lights in your home to signal to body and mind that the frenetic pace of the day’s activities is coming to an end. Wind down by reading something uplifting or spending time with your family or friends.
As night falls, light a stick of incense or a sandalwood and vanilla candle. Or add a few drops of these aromas, in the form of essential oils, to a warm bath. When we consistently associate these aromas with a particular state of being, such as relaxation, we create a memory in the brain. The next time we breathe in these aromas, our neurophysiology remembers that state of relaxation.
There are several Ayurvedic pressure points, on the foot that correspond to the entire body, Doing a foot massage, you can relax the entire body in just a few minutes.
Wash and dry your feet. Apply warmed, organic, cold-pressed sesame oil to one foot at a time, using your palms to rub the sole from heel to toe in small circular motions. Repeat on the top of the foot. Massage the ankle, followed by the sides of the foot. Interlace your fingers between your toes, gently push the foot to flex and point, and make clockwise and counterclockwise circles. Beginning with the little toe, rub each toe gently, and apply a little pressure in the webbing. Finally, pull each toe slightly, and put on clean cotton socks to sleep in.
Before bed, heat a cup of organic whole milk until it boils. Add a pinch of ground cardamom, nutmeg (spices that, in Ayurveda, are said to promote sleep), and cinnamon (to aid digestion). Let it cool a bit and add honey to taste. Warm whole milk is used in Ayurveda as an insomnia remedy. Don’t drink milk? Sip chamomile, valerian, or lemon balm tea.
To calm yourself for sleep, or before you sit for evening meditation, spend a few minutes doing Nadi Shodhana (also known as alternate nostril breathing). This cleansing breath practice calms the nervous system and, on a more subtle level, opens and balances the sushumna nadi, an energy channel that quiets and steadies the mind.
Place your right thumb over your right nostril to close the airway. Inhale through the left nostril, and then use your ring finger to close off the left nostril. Lift your thumb, and exhale out of the right nostril. Breathing in through the right nostril and putting your thumb over your right nostril again, exhale out of your left nostril. This completes a single round; try to do 5 to 10 rounds per sitting.