There are lots of reasons to do Yoga, but have you ever considered Yoga before bedtime? Whether you’re a man or a woman, there are plenty of poses to stretch your tired body and otherwise make for a good night’s sleep.
The cycle of sleep deprivation can be a vicious one. Some may often struggle falling asleep (and staying asleep) because of worries and anxieties, and in turn, the fact is that lack of sleep makes us stressed – and anxious and tired and a slough of other emotional states – the next day. In fact, a recent Huffington Post Survey even notes that a lack of sleep is a major cause of stress among Americans.
So, what can one do to alleviate these bedtime woes? – Yoga we say!
1. Start with the Child’s Pose (also known as Balasana)
This is noted as the ‘quintessential’ resting pose in many yoga classes. Child’s pose is intended to help calm the mind and relieve tension in the body. It’s an easy pose to master for just about anybody.
Basically this pose requires you to curl up like a child in the womb. Kneel on the floor, bringing your knees together and bending forward to rest your head at the ground in front of you, sitting on your ankles/heels. Leave your arms hanging toward your sides, with your hands at your hips or stretch them out lengthwise in front of you. Breathe deeply and exhale, allowing as much air to escape from your lungs as possible. Relax. Maintaining the position, repeat the breathing sequence until your mind is relaxed.
2. Another suggestion to start with is the Easy Forward Bend (also known as a variation of Sukhasana)
Bringing yourself from Child’s Pose, slowly – sit flat on the floor and cross your legs bringing your feet close up toward your butt. Bend forward over your knees laying your chest between your knees with your arms extended forward, and relaxed. Breathe deeply and exhale, allowing as much air to escape from your lungs as possible. Relax. Maintaining the position, repeat the breathing sequence until your mind and body is relaxed.
If you’re tight in the hips, sit on top of a pillow to make the pose a bit more relaxing.
You should use whatever props you need to sit comfortably on the ground while keeping a straight spine. Aim to have your knees sitting at the same height ofr lower than your hips.
3. Up the Wall Pose (also known as Viparita Karani)
Performed laying down with your legs up against the wall, this pose is excellent for evening relaxation and stress relief. Stay in the pose for as long as five minutes with the eyes closed, breathing slowly, relaxing the mind and body. Use a bolster or a pillow to support your back for better comfort.
- Begin the pose by sitting with your left side against the wall. Your lower back should rest against the bolster or pillow, if you’re using one.
- Carefully and gently turn your body toward the left and bring your legs up onto the wall.
- Lower your back to the floor and lie down. Rest your head and shoulders on the floor with your arms out at side length, creating a virtual ‘T’ with your upper body.
- Allow your thighs to relax, dropping your hips toward the back of your pelvis.
- Close your eyes, Hold for 5-10 minutes, breathing with awareness.
To release, slowly push yourself away from the wall as you slide your legs down to the right side. use your hands to help press yourself back up into a seated position.
I would generally recommend this as the last pose, but it’s good for the middle of your sequence too… just to be sure you’re completely relaxing throughout the rest of your poses.
4. Corpse Pose (also known as Savasana)
- This pose is likely to get your body in motion for a sleep cycle. Focus your attention on your body and breath. Let go of the days worries with this pose. This is a pose for complete relaxation, making it a bit more difficult than it seems.
- Just lay back on the ground, feet extended out and arms at your sides.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for up to five minutes.
You may want to try to save this pose for last – hopefully, you’ll find yourself falling asleep during the last stages of this pose – you can also practice this in bed.
5. Breathing Exercise(Pranayama)
Finally, try a simple nostril breathing exercise -also known as Pranayama –
- Try sitting up either cross legged or lie down on your right side.
- Cover the right nostril.
- Take five to ten deep breaths out of your left nostril.
- There is no need to repeat with the other side as there is something to be said about the breathing through the left nostril specifically.
Many yogis will ensure you that yoga will help your sleep in many ways. The quality of your sleep will improve because of the stimulatory effect yoga has on the nervous system, and in particular the brain. The practice of certain yoga postures will increase the blood circulation the sleep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle, according to recent studies.
As always, depending upon your health situation(s), it is always wise to consult your doctor before changing lifestyle routines. Yoga has proven benefits for all walks of life, though there are some poses that some people should avoid, namely those with high blood pressure and pregnancy.
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