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    This question is primarily for Inari and Angelus, but of course others are allowed to participate if they have some experience with this. 

    I’ve started running in the evenings.  In Texas it’s still in the 90’s at night, but there’s no direct sunlight so that helps.  It hasn’t been that bad, but I’ve found it impossible to sleep afterwards.  I don’t know what to do about this.  I try to stretch and shower and calm myself, but it only gets me part of the way there.  In order to keep doing this, which I would like to do, I need to find a way to come down a bit faster.  Waking up earlier isn’t an option because it takes me too long to recover afterwards and work has to be a priority.

    I’m going to look through my resources to see if I can come up with some yoga or qigong exercises to calm my energy so I can sleep, but I wanted to see if anyone else found worked for them. 

    Of course I’ll share anything I figure out as well.  :-)

    Kol Drake

    I ran cross country and track in high school and did a fair amount of extra physical training while in the military so, most of this is ‘stuff I’ve learned’ then and over the years since.

    The ‘cooling down period’ after a work out is as important as the workout itself.  And, sadly, mostly ignored in the ‘hurry and get on to the next thing’ pace of today’s society… but that’s another soapbox all together.

    So, you’ve just completed your workout and are really feeling the tension in your muscles. You congratulate yourself on how hard you worked and dream about how much stronger you’ll be as a result.  What you’re forgetting, however, is the second key component of a great workout: muscle relaxation. Not only do you need to stimulate your muscles to grow, you must also provide them with enough rest and relaxation to heal and repair themselves so they will grow stronger.

    Consider these next ‘steps’ as part of a program you should follow no matter the form of exercise/strenuous work you do.  Making it ‘part of the program’ insures it becomes a habit — just as exercise does.  By incorporating techniques such as the ones that follow into your daily routine, you will ensure optimum recovery and feel your best for every workout.


    Best performed during the cool down and stretching component of your workout.  (( AND, before you go to bed at night.  The whole JEDI body control thing of calm centering )) 

    But first…

    This frequently neglected part of your workout is critical for promoting recovery and decreasing muscle stiffness.  It also helps to prevent injuries if done BEFORE and AFTER each work out… so… VERY important!  Perform these exercises right after your workout when your muscles are at their warmest and most limber.

    Hold each stretch for a count of 15 to 30 seconds.  Do NOT force muscles ‘until they hurt’…. as you are trying for stretching; not tearing.  Firm but not stressed flexing is best — feel a good pull in your muscle without any significant amount of pain.

    Hamstring stretch: Stand or sit and try to touch your toes.

    Quadriceps stretch: Bending one leg at the knee and holding your foot behind you, slowly pull your knee backward.

    Oblique stretch: Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, lean over to one side, letting your hand slide down the side of your leg, and repeat on the other side.

    Tricep stretch: Extend one arm over your head, bend it at the elbow and gently push that arm behind your head with your other hand.

    Calf stretch: Find a step and place your foot so the back half is hanging off. Then, slowly put your weight on your leg and lower your heel until your calf muscle feels a slight pull.

    Back stretch: Kneel on the floor and stretch your arms as far forward as you can. Round your back while doing the motion to release any built-up tension in your back muscles.

    By including these stretches in your workout, you will increase your range of motion, thus allowing you to target more muscle fibers during your strength training.

    As an alternative, you can go through some Tai Chi or Qi Gong movements which also incorporate slow stretching movements.  Perhaps a little easy Yoga if that’s your thing or something like the Eight Brocades — though, doing all over the above stretches would be optimal.

    [size=10pt]BREATHING (again)[/size]

    Can’t get enough of it myself.  :P

    Focus on controlling your breathing; take slow, deep breaths.  Some writings suggest a 4:4 second count — in and out.  (( work it and see what works to get you breathing slow and mellow ))  As you exhale, imagine all the tension and negative energy slowly moving out of your body.  Feel your muscles relaxing and, if you are lying in bed, growing heavier. Work your way through your entire body, focusing on relaxing one muscle group at a time.

    Breathing this way will help to increase your mind-body awareness and focus your energy on muscle relaxation.


    Believe it or not, it may seem like an unconventional way to get your muscles to relax, but by allowing gravity to do its work, you can achieve a deeper state of relaxation.  IF it’s available, find a bar that you can reach comfortably, lift your knees and wrap them around the bar. Then, slowly release your arms and let yourself hang for a minute.

    Concentrate on completely releasing any tension in your muscles and letting gravity pull you downward. Do not stay in this position for an extended period of time, however, as excess blood accumulation in the head can cause many health concerns.

    If a bar is not available, learn to do the good old yogic HEAD STAND.  Place a folded towel or cushion where your head will ‘plant’ and do a head stand.  It’s even okay to cheat and go ‘up’ against a wall.  The idea is to get inverted.

    Here’s a little side trip regarding how ‘good’ the head stand Yoga posture is for ya.

    The head stand Yoga posture is often referred to as the King of the Yoga Asanas because of its numerous mental and physical benefits. If you have only a short time to practice, and want to maximize the benefits, do the head stand.  There are four major systems in the body that the practice of inversions positively influences: endocrine, circulation / cardiovascular, lymphatic, and nervous.  (( but, because I like to.. I’ll stick in a few more systems it helps. AND, I’m not hand waving these.. these have been ‘proven’ by various doctors/institutional studies over the years… so nyah.  :P  )) 

    Endocrine System
    Enables a favorable reconditioning effect on endocrine gland secretion.  Allows for the system to withstand greater stress and strain.  It also stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands on which the growth, health and vital strength of a person depends.  Nourishes and stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands.   In particular, the head stand provides refreshed blood and bathes and nourishes the hypothalamus, pineal gland and the pituitary gland.   These glands play an important role in the endocrine system.  The endocrine system uses hormones to regulate the metabolism of the cells.   Our growth, health and vitality depend on the proper functioning of these two glands that control the chemical balance of the body.  The secretions of the pituitary regulate sexual characteristics and growth of the reproductive organs.  It also regulates the function of adrenal, thyroid and the ovaries. It is the hormone which stimulates the production of milk in nursing mothers. Thus, pituitary is the master gland which plays a very important role in regulating menstruation and pregnancy. The inverted postures in turn regulate the functioning of this master gland.

    Circulatory System
    Inversion gives the old heart ‘a break’… by taking a little of the load off of the old ‘fight against gravity’ which the heart combats 24/7.  Inversion exercises the heart and encourages venous return.  The head stand does much the same for the body that aerobic exercise does.  Inversions use gravity to bring more blood to the heart – turning yourself upside down encourages venous return and reduces heart strain. The heart works persistently to ensure that freshly oxygenated blood makes its way up to the brain and its sensory organs. When inverting, the pressure differential across the body is reversed, and blood floods to the brain with little work from the heart. 
    Headstand allows a plentiful supply of oxygen-rich blood to reach your head and brain.  Increasing the blood flow through the brain cells increases your thinking power, clarity, memory, concentration, and the sensory faculties and moreover minimizes disruption of brain tissues therefore, acting to slow cell  degeneration.   Fatigue of the brain cells is done through the rejuvenation of the brain cells with fresh blood and O2.    Studies have also found doing head stands REGULARLY help to minimize risk of stroke and Parkinson’s disease.  (( the whole blood and O2 deal again !  ))

    Lymphatic System
    Again, it’s a constant battle against gravity.  Fluid build up is  reduced.  Lymph, like the blood returning to your heart via the veins, is dependent upon muscular movement and gravity to facilitate its return.  Thus, in the headstand, lymph fluid is relieved from the legs and ankles and with regular practice prevents the buildup of fluid in the legs and feet.

    This also strengthens the immune system. Because the lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and has one-way valves that keep lymph moving towards the heart, when one turns upside down, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, thus strengthening your immune system.

    Nervous System
    Headstand stimulates the nervous system which increases mental alertness and clarity.  The immediate change felt after performing this pose is an enhanced alertness which lasts through the day.  ((  morning head stands… yep.  BUT, evening head stands can be a ‘meditative’ and ‘relaxing’ time also… as one sort of ‘reverses gravity’ at the end of the day / end of an evening work out.

    Brain Blood!
    No, I am not advocating turning into a zombie.  :P  The most important aspect of inverted poses is to soak the brain with blood for a fixed period of time which never happens in other systems of exercises. 

    According to Dr Raman (Raman, 2004):  “This rejuvenates the brain cells and prevents age related cerebral atrophy. Senile changes in brain are prevented. And as mentioned before ischemic strokes can be completely prevented as the blood supply is enhanced without pressure.”

    It tends to calm the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.  It is a centering, calming and soothing pose.  A cooling effect is felt on the face in the pose.   Heck, even Yoda had Luke doing a hand stand while levitating all the crap around him in the swamp!!!!!

    And now, some of ‘the extras’…

    Respiratory System
    Healthier lungs. Inversions also ensure healthier and more effective lung tissue. When standing or sitting upright, gravity pulls our fluids earthward, and blood “perfuses” or saturates the lower lungs more thoroughly. The lower lung tissue is thus more compressed than the upper lungs. As a result, the air we inhale moves naturally into the open alveoli of the upper lungs. Unless we take a good, deep breath, we do not raise the ration of air to blood in the lower lungs. When we invert, blood perfuses the well-ventilated upper lobes of the lungs, thus ensuring more efficient oxygen-to-blood exchange and healthier lung tissue, oxygen consumption and blood flow.

    Being topsy turvy strengthens the lungs.  When done properly, head stands help the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress.  The inversion rests the lungs which feel refreshed. The vital capacity increases as the lungs learn to breathe against the strain of the body organs resting on it in the posture.

    Digestive System
    Head stands increase gastric ‘fire’ and produces heat in the body.  The weight of the abdominal organs on the diaphragm encourages deep breathing, which gently massages the internal organs.  By reversing the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines, it helps to cleanse them by releasing congested blood in the jejunum and colon. Fresh warm blood invigorates the cells and overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines and reproductive system.  The change in posture enhances peristaltic contractions and aids good elimination.

    Musculo skeletal system
    Head stands strengthen the spine, neck, shoulders and arms. The muscular system of the abdomen and legs are toned.  So, this particular one is a WIN-WIN… no matter when it is done…… as long as it’s DONE.

    A massage goes a long way when it comes to relaxing your muscles.  Look for a certified deep tissue massage therapist and book a full-body treatment.  A deep tissue massage reaches muscle fibers that you aren’t able to target with everyday methods like stretching. During the massage, focus on the breathing technique described above to relax your muscles even more.

    Ya ya…. I know.  You can’t get one of these every day blah blah blah.  But, when and if you can… do it!  It’s worth it.

    In the meantime, I do —

    All of these options warm up your core body temperature and increase your blood circulation, transporting more oxygen and nutrients to your healing muscles.

    These treatments work best right after your workout or later on in the evening, since they’re also a great way to relax and unwind psychologically.  If you’re suffering from an injury, however, ice should be applied before heat immediately after training, as it reduces inflammation, which is a priority for injured muscles.

    Stay in the bath, sauna or steam room for about 10 to 15 minutes — enough time to fully relax but not so long that you begin to feel lethargic. If you want, you can also perform some stretching exercises during this time, as your muscles will be very warm and at their most flexible state.

    Since I don’t have a hot tub or home sauna, I ‘just’ use some major tub time.  Nothing feels more relaxing than to slide into a tub of hot hot water and letting it melt the old muscles for a while.  Afterward, a short cleansing rinse and presto…. instant mellow.  :)

    Add to that…

    Meditation is great not only for stress relief, but also for muscle relaxation. Do it right before you go to bed, as it will focus your mental energy and prepare your body for rest.  Do it as you normally do and find that calm, centered, relaxed spot.  Reread and do the first year academy meditation exercises  :P

    Try to completely relax your mind, freeing it of all thoughts.  Establish a meditative ‘healing routine’ in your head.  Visualize your muscles tensing and relaxing, and all the energy moving out of them. Once you’ve worked your way through your entire body, take a few deep breaths and slowly get up.  Heck, you can even work on visualizing that much desired ‘deep tissue massage’ on a table/bed….  remember, the brain / body reacts to these visualizations ‘just like’ it is experiencing the real deal.  (( there are a ton of studies proving this lately too… trust me. )) 

    After ALL this, your muscles should now feel relaxed and your body should be in a state of calm.


    [size=10pt]GREEN TEA[/size]
    This dietary method of muscle relaxation is great since it is something you can easily add to your daily routine.  Green tea contains a number of antioxidants that serve to eliminate free radicals that have harmful effects on your body.  By reducing the damage to your muscle tissue, you won’t need as much recovery time and can hit the weights harder, sooner.

    To fully reap the benefits of this herbal beverage, include a cup or two of green tea in your daily diet.  Make it (or another calming tea blend) your ‘unwind’ tea ceremony.

    Another dietary supplement that aids in nerve signaling, as well as muscle contraction and relaxation, is magnesium. This can be taken either in supplemental form or obtained from foods rich in magnesium, such as brown rice, spinach, almonds, and peanuts. Aim for 400 mg to 420 mg daily.


    And that, kiddies, is probably a lot more then you EVER wanted to know about all this….. but, it’s all good advice.

    Biggest deal is.. DO IT…. and reap the rewards.


    References (and borrowing from)







    Yeah…can’t do a head stand.  lol  But I am cooling down physically.  It’s actually really important here because of how hot it is.  The heat index is still in the 90s when I run, so I take my time cooling down and always take a shower to try to return to a more normal body temp. 

    I will try to remember my vitamins and see what else I can apply that I’m not already doing.  Tonight I’m transferring over an evening qigong workout from vhs.  Since I’m already meditating and such, this may help shift my energy to prepare for bed more than any of the other things I’ve tried.  We’ll find out!

    This is a good bit of information though, Kol.  Thanks for sharing! :-) 


    By the way, I decided to move this where it belongs.  Not sure why I put it where I did initially.  :-)

    Yeah…can’t do a head stand.

    Try doing a shoulder stand:  Lay on your back.  Kick your feet over past your head.  So now the back of your head is on the ground and your neck is bent so your chin is on your chest.  You should be looking at the front of your thighs and your toes should be touching the ground somewhere way past the top of your head.  Now leave your elbows on the floor, but put your hands on your back.  Slowly lift your legs as straight toward the ceiling as you can.  Your hands will support your back to keep you from falling out of the posture on to your back.  You may not be able to get your legs perfectly verticle, but do the best you can and keep struggling to get them as verticle as possible.  This should get you all the benefits of a traditional handstand except the arm and shoulder strength.


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