Practice this yoga sequence to start sleeping more soundly.
Getting a good eight hours of sleep every night is essential to feeling and looking your best and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately for many of us, the stress and anxiety brought on by the day can keep our brains wide awake at night. If you find yourself tossing and turning and having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s likely negatively affecting how you feel during the day.
The practice of yoga can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep by developing overall balance and harmony in your body and mind. The poses below will help you relieve physical tension and stress, so your mind can stay calm. The result? You wake up feeling refreshed and restored, each and every morning!
By Michelle Thielen
Image credit: Rose Baker, YogaFaith of Missouri
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.
Upward Plank Pose
Image credit: Holly Neal, YogaFaith of Atlanta
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: Carmella Pankey, Tucson YogaFaith
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: OpenDoorPhotography.com
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).
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