Our world can be so full of rushing bustle and high energy that it leaves many of us perpetually exhausted and suffering from many fatigue-related issues in our home and work lives. When we lack adequate sleep, we suffer from more than a case of Monday yawns.
Sleeplessness and chronic fatigue contribute to a variety of problems. Extended sleep deprivation can lead to even more severe mental and physical health concerns. Burning the candle at both ends isn’t a pleasant or safe way to move through life.
Yoga is proven to reduce your body’s production of the stress hormone, Cortisol. It also helps you relax into your body and release much of the tension you carry through your day. Stretching your muscles and certain styles of yoga before bed can help your body sleep more soundly and reduce insomnia.
Another benefit that many people overlook is that better sleep helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Yoga helps with both sleep quality and keeping your body in motion to promote your physical health.
Poses to Try: When you’re preparing for bed, avoid yoga poses that will increase your heart rate, like standard backbends and other energizing poses. Hot Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga are also not ideal for rest. You can do backbends so long as they’re adjusted for restoration and relaxation.
This pose will help stretch and open the shoulders and chest, lengthen the spine, bring focus to your breathing, stretch the buttocks and sides of the torso and extend the psoas muscles.
For Child’s Pose, start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Press your hands into the mat, and move your hips back toward your feet. Your knees and big toes should be touching in this pose, though there are variations that are wide-legged.
This combination of poses lengthens your spine and gently stretches the muscles in your neck. This pose also opens the chest and brings more evident attention to your breathing patterns.
For Cat-Cow, start on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart. On your inhale, drop your tailbone, sink your stomach, and raise your heart into Cow. Hold your breath for a moment before exhaling into Cat. For Cat, you’ll maintain your hand and knee position. Pull your tailbone in and your stomach to your spine. Arch your back, and pull your head into position to look at your legs. Repeat these two positions while focusing on your breathing.
Seated Spinal Twist
One of the most frequent contributors to sleeplessness is back pain. This pose will help lengthen, strengthen, and stretch the spine and reduce back pain. This pose also encourages healthy breathing habits and reduces sciatica-related pain in the hips.
For Seated Spinal Twist, sit back on your buttocks with your hips on the ground and your knees bent. There are a few variations on this pose to accommodate different physical body needs. This is a pose that you’ll want to focus on lengthening your spine for best results.
Standing Forward Bend
As we move through our day, a lot of tightness can build up in the calves, hamstrings, and glutes. The Standing Forward Bend is an excellent pose for releasing the tension and letting gravity gently stretch these muscles before bed. If this pose seems complicated due to a lack of flexibility, you can make alterations to achieve the same outcomes with better comfort and stability.
For Standing Forward Bend, engage your core muscles, slowly lower yourself down, reaching for your toes. Without locking your knees, reach as far to the floor as you’re able and exhale. When you’re ready to stand back up, roll up slowly, keeping your core engaged.
Yoga Nidra isn't a yoga pose, but a guided meditation style of yoga that teaches your body to sink into rest and calm your mind in preparation for sleep. This type of yoga encourages a deep state of relaxation and is recommended as part of your nightly bedtime routine. A typical Yoga Nidra series can take as little as 10 minutes and can go for much longer if preferred.
Your yoga practice may be the game-changer you’ve been looking for to reset your sleep habits and renew your bedtime routine. However, yoga can only go so far in promoting healthy sleep. It’s essential to make sure your bedroom is restful and soothing.
Maintain your room at a comfortable temperature, and maintain air movement with a fan. Before bed, during your nighttime routine, dim your lights and reduce excess noise. You may need to hang curtains over windows or textile decorations on walls to dampen outside noises.
By Jennifer Chonillo
For more information about how to get the best sleep of your life, check out more infographics like the one below from SleePare Miami’s blog.
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