Having trouble falling asleep? These poses will help.
More than one third of Americans suffer from occasional insomnia, which means they have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night. There can be many different causes, but insomnia is most commonly caused by a busy mind that just won’t turn off when your head hits the pillow.
The good news is, practicing yoga can really help you with getting that much-needed shut-eye. These suggested poses are great for calming your mind and relaxing your body, all in preparation for a good night’s rest. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try one of these yoga poses.
By Elizabeth Marglin
Sit upright, eyes closed in the dark or semi dark, and allow your breath to become soft, velvety, and slow. This is not an active posture, so there’s no need for lifting your spine or holding your shoulders back. Rather, I keep my spine supple and delicate, like a long-stemmed tulip. Cover yourself in a shawl, hoodie, or a blanket. Notice how at night or early morning the vibration in the air is exquisitely subtle. Let the silence envelope you. If thoughts come in, especially thoughts about the day to come, carefully shelve them away. (If your mind gets caught up in planning, you become more activated and alert.) When you first find yourself slipping off to sleep, roll back into bed in Savasana. Lie on your back and be still, enjoying the feeling of ease and spaciousness you accomplished by sitting. If you do not drift off to sleep, be assured by the fact that you have guided your body and mind to a place of deep restoration— the second-best thing to sleep.
Place a bolster or blanket parallel to and 5 to 6 inches from a wall. Sit sideways on the support with your hip against the wall and then swing your legs up the wall and lie back. The support should end up beneath your lower back with your buttocks, falling between the support and the wall. If you have tighter hamstrings and this feels uncomfortable, you can slide a bit further from the wall, so the support ends up beneath your buttocks. If your legs tend to fall apart, you can loop a strap around your ankles. I often cover my eyes with an eye bag and lay a blanket across my chest and abdomen. Take whatever arm position feels most natural and enjoy the calm.
Seated Forward Bend and Child’s Pose hybrid
Sit upright with your legs out in front at hip-width or a bit wider. You should feel comfortable and relaxed, knees bent out to the sides however much feels good to you, so that your feet flop naturally out to the sides as well. Place a folded pillow or bolster between your legs so that you can rest your forehead on the pillow, positioned so that your nose and breathing are unobstructed. If you feel stiff, add a soft pillow or blanket to support your abdomen and insert a higher pillow between your legs. Do not exert; rather melt into the support of the pillow and the bed or floor beneath you. Curl over and drape your arms in a relaxed manner alongside the pillow, above your head. If your legs need to be more bent, or propped up at the knees by a blanket, do so. There should be no tension in your neck, shoulders, jaw, tongue, back, legs, feet, or arms. If you start to doze off, toss the pillows aside, lie back down, and drift into that delightful feeling of deep sleep.
Muertasana (a version of Savasana)
Turn the lights off, get into your bed, and cover up with a blanket (hands and feet need to be warm). Make sure the blinds are down and there is no music or ambient light. Turn off your cell phone and other potential noise disturbances. Let your jaw relax and your teeth part. Let your bones release down and your body become heavy with each exhale. Focus on your exhales and releasing your thoughts. Just let the thoughts drift by like clouds. Stay here for at least 20 minutes—if you haven’t already fallen asleep.
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All images courtesy of YogaJournal.com.