Yoga For Sleep

Yoga For Sleep




About 12% of American adults have some kind of chronic insomnia that can be detrimental to their health, state of mind and ability to enjoy life.

If you live in a busy city like me, you probably have had trouble sleeping at some point or even have a restless night every few weeks. The stresses and worries of modern life come to bed with us and keep us up, as we worry about the future or relive the past. This produces even more stress in the body, as inadequate sleep causes cortisol levels and blood pressure to rise. On top of that, weight gain is a common by-product of extended sleep deprivation. It’s a vicious cycle that can go on for years, as excess weight adds even more stress to the body’s systems.

For sleep issues, we often opt for the short-term “solution” of pills like Ambien, but those can have adverse longterm consequences: the easy route can turn into an addiction (to say nothing of sleep aid side effects).

Before we fall any further down this rabbit hole, let’s explore how a few yoga poses, coupled with deep, slow breathing, can bring those much sought after zzz’s. Put away the drugs, stop counting those sheep and try this five- to twenty-minute routine before sleep. 

The best part? You can do it all in bed!

 

Legs Up a Wall Pose  

1. Lie on your back, shimmy your butt close to a wall or headboard and then slide your legs up the wall.

2. Place a pillow or two underneath your hips for a little extra lift and support.

3. Bring your arms over head.

4. Feel your breath expand into your belly, side and back body on the inhales, then slowly exhale all the air out.

5. Stay here, focusing your mind on the breath for as long as you want (five to ten minutes is great).

Benefits:

Regulates blood flow

Calms anxiety

Relieves symptoms of mild depression and insomnia

 

Child's Pose

1. Come to all fours, separate your knees wide and bring your heels towards each other.

2. Sit your hips back onto your heels.

3. Extend your torso forward and release your forehead down. (You can use a pillow between your knees to help prop your head up for support.)

Benefits:

Gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles

Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue

Relieves back and neck pain, when done with head and torso supported

 

Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Goddess Pose)

1. Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, palms facing up.

2. Bend your knees so your heels are by your hips.

3. Allow the knees to spill open to either side, while bringing the soles of your feet together.

4. Option to rest one hand on your heart and one on your navel.

5. Close your eyes and feel your deep breathing under your fingertips. (To modify bring pillows underneath your knees for support.)

6. Stay here from one to ten minutes.

Benefits:

Stimulates the heart and improves general circulation

Stretches the inner thighs, groin and knees

Helps relieve the symptoms of stress, mild depression, menstruation and menopause

 

Happy Baby Pose

1. Lie on your back, bring your knees to your chest and grab the outside of your feet.

2. Open up your legs, so your thighs are slightly wider than your torso, while bringing the knees towards your armpits.

3. Make sure your feet are directly over your knees, while flexing through your heels.

4. Lengthen your tailbone down, while slightly tucking the chin to lengthen the back of your neck.

5. Stay here for up to two minutes, while feeling and seeing your belly expand and contract with air.

Benefits:

Gently stretches the inner groin muscles and the back spine

Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue

 

Corpse Pose 

1. Lay on your back, spread your arm by your sides, about 6 inches away from the body, palms up.

2. Allow your toes to spill outward. (Use a few pillow under you knees if your back is bothering you.)

3. While breathing slowly, close your eyes and find stillness.

Benefits: 

Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression

Relaxes the body

Reduces headaches, fatigue and insomnia

Helps lower blood pressure

 

Beyond the yoga poses, it is important to create a routine around sleep. Make sure you shut off any electrical devices at least an hour before bed and try to dim the lights and lower/quiet any noise. Establish a set bedtime to regulate your circadian rhythms, allowing your body to start expecting sleep at a certain hour every night. Avoid sugar, chocolate and caffeine late in the day.  

This will help you enjoy deep sleep, great dreams and a fully rested tomorrow!

 

photo credits: mirjan rooze