If you are into yoga, you are aware there are nearly as many reasons to hit the mat as there are yoga poses (and that's quite a lot!) . Perhaps you're trying to find a way to keep your stress levels in check, or perhaps you're looking to enhance your flexibility or becoming toned in a way that does not require weights or the treadmill. Or perhaps, like so many despairing insomniacs out there, you are hoping that yoga is going to become your ticket to a restful night (at last!) . However, are there any yoga poses that can help you to sleep better?
Lots of yogis swear by their own regular practice as a way to sweeter slumber; in fact, a National Health Interview Survey on the uses of complementary health approaches in the USA discovered that 55 percent of yoga practitioners reported improved sleep. It makes sense, naturally. "There's a pretty strong case to be made that having an active/dynamic lifestyle that incorporates regular vigorous exercise can improve overall sleep patterns," advanced certified Jivamukti yoga instructor Jessica Stickler states. "Regularly getting any kind of vigorous movement into your day improves heart, lung, and muscular health and tends to help us get better rest at night. Unfortunately, that doesn't help in the moment of experiencing insomnia or troubled sleep. So, get that daily dose of yoga in for overall deeper sleep."
Obviously, a high-energy workout right before bed might be the opposite of relaxing, '' she adds. "The body needs time to settle down and switch gears," she clarifies. Therefore a pre-bedtime yoga routine should include poses designed to relax the body and the mind.
"While doing these poses, feel the breath in your body," states Stickler. "Don't contemplate the breath or analyze it, but just feel the natural movement of the breath. If the breath feels agitated in any way, try to extend the exhale. Let the exhale be long and also soft. Don't force it but let the exhale help the mind to expel the thought patterns."
Before turning in at evening, give these yoga poses a try. All these are suitable for novices, too.
"First, do some slow cat/cows for gentle movement to tire you out for sleep," Powerflow Yoga coach Kristen Kemp instructs.
This super simple flow from cow tilt to cat stretch is notorious for increasing flexibility in the spine and releasing pressure in the back (and the mind), according to Do You Yoga.
Two Forward Bends
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Next, Kemp says, "Do some forward folds to cool down the central nervous system. I recommend pashimotonasana and janusirsasana."
For the layperson, janusirsasana is also called "head-to-knee" pose and pashimotonasana is called a"seated forward bend", as described by Yoga Journal. If you can not reach your feet in these poses, consider using a strap to assist.
3Wide-Knee Child's Pose
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"Wide-knee child's pose is another great pre-bed pose," Allegra McBane Sanchez, a certified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance tells. "It calms the mind and body and you use gravity to do the work so it doesn't require any effort."
In addition, it is a excellent method to gently stretch the hips, in accordance with Yoga Journal.
4Legs Up The Wall
"Another wonderful pose to practice is viparita karani, sometimes referred to as 'legs up the wall' because you lay on your back with your legs up the wall," says Stickler.
"Having the legs elevated helps to settle the mind and put the body in a relaxed state. Be in the pose for 5-15 minutes."
"It's reversed blood flow and is very calming, soothing and relaxing," agrees Kemp.
5 Reclined Spinal Twist
Fantastic for beginners and seasoned professionals alike, Sanchez proposes the reclined spinal twist (lying on your back with your arms out in a"T" shape, knees bent and resting on one side as you gaze over the shoulder).
"Spinal twists are great for neutralizing the spine, cleansing the organs, and generally relieving any aches and pains in your back which lots of people have by the end of the day," says Sanchez.
6 Reclined Goddess Pose
Sanchez calls supta baddhakonasana (or reclined "goddess pose") "an ideal pose for settling the body down and helping to calm the mind."
"The pose is done laying on the back with the knees bent out to the sides and the soles of the feet together," she clarifies.
"Support the knees with pillows or some other support between the knees and the floor," she adds, and try to remain in the pose for 5 to 15 minutes.