Yoga Poses for Sleeping
In this fast pace world, most of us at some point may experience some challenges with getting adequate rest at night. We may put ourselves to bed at a reasonable time but actually falling asleep is a whole other story. With multiple responsibilities we take on it may be hard to turn of the mind and body before our slumber. In addition to a comfortable mattress, try these tips inspired from our yoga practice to assist with a peaceful night leaving you recharged and ready to tackle the next day. These yoga poses for sleeping might be a better and healthier alternative to sleeping pills in our over medicated world. Why not give your self the self-care you deserve and give it a try?!
Viparita Karani- Legs up the wall
Benefits: Insomnia, varicose veins, stimulates relaxation response or the parasympathetic nervous system, reduces swelling in legs and feet.
Action: Blood flow is reversed, removing toxins and waste. Slows down heartbeat.
Foundation: Find a wall in your bedroom and take a seat about 6inches away from the wall. Bend your elbows and lower your back onto the floor as you swing your legs up onto the wall. With your legs vertical on the wall make sure to keep some distance between your pelvis and the wall. For more of a restorative version use a bolster or blankets under your torso and head. Stay here for 5-20 minutes.
Balasana- Childs pose
Benefits: Calming, grounding and centering.
Action: This is a hip opener and a forward fold. The action of forward folding is generally cooling in nature. Back breathing or deeper breathing is encouraged in this pose. By facing your body toward the ground you can go inward and retreat from the distractions of the outside world; therefor preparing for deep slumber.
Foundation: Sit on your knees with them either as wide as your mat or together. Bring your seat towards your heels. Reach your arms out in front of you bringing your forehead to the floor or alternatively make fists stacking them your fist under your third eye. For more of a restorative version, use a bolster under your front side of the torso and head, place support behind knees or under ankles if needed. Stay here for 1-5 minutes.
Benefits: To clear the mind and decrease stress and worry from personal conflict to allow you to drift into sleep.
Action: Takes you into the peaceful present instead of replaying your day (the past) or planning for tomorrow (the future).
Foundation: Find a stable and supported seat either with legs crossed or on your knees. Sit on a pillow, stacked blankets or a bolster to reduce effort in the hips, use a wall to support the back if necessary. Place your hands with palms facing down or up on your thighs. Close your eyes or gaze on a fixed point. Notice your body first, then your breath and finally your thoughts. If you already have specific meditation or concentration technique proceed with that. If not, try to bring your mind to the present with a Buddhist technique called Samatha meditation. In order to disengage with thoughts that bring us to the past or future we need to bear witness to them first. Try counting to ten in your head with your full attention. When a thought not related to the action of counting to ten creeps in, begin all over again starting from one. This concentration method trains us to notice thoughts that are superfluous to that moment. Start a nightly meditation for at least 5 minutes and eventually maybe increase to 10 minutes or 20 minutes.
Breathing- Counting Breaths
Benefits: Regulates breathing, encourages deeper diaphragm breathing to slow down heart rate and the sympathetic nervous system.
Action: Initiates the relaxation response or the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers rest, digest and growth function of the body.
Foundation: Lie on your back as you prepare to sleep. Use any support under your knees or head as necessary for your body. Either place your hands by your sides or on your stomach as a reminder of the movement of the belly rising and falling from the action of the diaphragm. Close your eyes and feel the support of your mattress under your body. Begin to inhale for a count of three. Pause at the top of the inhale and exhale for a count of three. Repeat for a minimum of 20 cycles. Option to increase the counts to five as you progress. Instead of counting sheep, try counting your breath to help ease you into a sound and restful sleep!