These yoga poses will help you get a restful night’s sleep.
If you’re like most people today, you’re overworked and likely sleep-deprived during the work week. Most of us also experience feelings of anxiety and stress that keep us wide awake at night when we should be getting some much needed rest.
It’s important to get the sleep you need, and to do that, you have to find a way to relax. Practicing yoga will alleviate the stress and tension brought on by your busy day and allow you to get the sleep you need! Here are 5 yoga poses to try tonight.
By Michelle Thielen
1. Plow Pose
This inversion will stimulate the respiratory and circulatory systems specifically, which is why you will most likely feel energized when practicing it. You may modify the posture by simply practicing a mild inversion such as Legs up the Wall or placing your feet on a bolster or ottoman instead of the ground behind your head. Be sure to keep the legs engaged – imagine lifting your hamstrings to the sky. Rest in Corpse pose (Savasana) when done.
Image credit: Rose Baker, YogaFaith of Missouri
2. Upward Plank Pose
This heart opener acts as a stretching and strengthening posture for every part of your body – from the fingers to the toes – with a focus on one of the most important stress-relieving activities: opening the heart to let everything else go. You can modify with one or both legs bent. If you have neck issues, keep your eyes to the sky. If no neck issues exist, slowly release the head back without compressing the spine. You may also deepen by practicing variations with the legs, or have fun and make one up. Breathe, release, surrender, and open your heart once again. When you’re done, release and come into a seated forward fold (or Staff pose, Dandasana) with your legs straight out in front of you, and simply fold the torso forward onto legs or a bolster that is resting on the legs.
Image credit: Holly Neal, YogaFaith of Atlanta
3. Camel Pose
This kneeling backbend and heart opener is perfect to progress from Upward Plank. It will open your heart further and includes a beautiful, invigorating backbend. Modify by placing elbows on the seat of a chair or hands can rest on the tallest height of two blocks on the outside of each thigh. You may deepen by coming down to the forearms, grasping opposite elbows, or as shown, reaching one or both hands high. Breathe. Release. Trust. And when you’re finished, come to rest in Child’s pose (Balasana).
Image credit: Carmella Pankey, Tucson YogaFaith
4. Cow Face Pose
This seated posture will focus on two major anatomical parts: the shoulders and hips. These two areas are typically everyone’s most tense places in the body. This posture is great because we get relief in both areas with one posture. Do not force anything in this posture. Typically the knees should be stacked on top of each other and the fingers will one day touch in a clasp, but use a strap at first, and don’t worry about how closely you can get your knees to stack. Embrace the journey and as the mobility comes, you may practice without the strap. Modify by simply placing your hand on the mid-spine while the other hand gently presses the elbow to exaggerate the stretch. Deepen by folding forward or gently pulling the arms away from the spine. Breathe here. When you’re ready to come out of the pose, rest in Legs up the Wall pose (Viparita Karani).
Image credit: YogiApproved.com
5. Simple Seated Meditation
This seated posture epitomizes yoga. “Asana” in Sanskrit refers to the place and the posture one sits in. Found in ancient text as early as 800 BCE, asana refers to the seat which is used for meditation. Seated postures are perfect to meditate in because the body is most relaxed as well as the lungs, so you are able to create the most space and the deepest breaths. I recommend sitting against a wall to support the spine. Try to focus on one thing. A mantra, a positive affirmation, or perhaps imagine the flicker of a candle. If your mind continues to wander, focus on your breath. Allow your thoughts to simply come in and go out, like boats in a harbor. Quiet the heart. Listen.
Image credit: Michelle Thielen
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