As someone who is always in the market for natural ways to improve my quality of sleep. I have recently found several things that help, including tart cherry juice, and magnesium oil (more on these in future posts). And this looks like something worth checking out. I’m not adept at yoga or a super regular practitioner, but I always feel better and more relaxed whenever I fit some into my day, so I’m looking forward to giving this particular sequence of poses a try.
Do you ever have a hard time falling asleep? In today’s society, you’re probably not alone. With the constant feeling of “go, go, go,” it makes us anxious even as we are preparing for bed. It can be very challenging to fall asleep and get a restful night’s sleep with a constant feeling of anxiety and stress. Yoga can be a great way to de-stress and unwind as you get ready to hit the hay.
These yoga poses are all meant to help you clear your mind and feel relaxed. These poses can also stretch areas that may have tightened up through the day. Add this ten-minute sequence to your nightly routine to help you calm down and fall into a deep slumber.
Cat & Cow Pose
Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale as your lengthen through your spine, arching your back, reaching the crown of your head and tailbone together, and drawing your shoulder blades down into a Cow pose.
Exhale as you bring your spine back to neutral and round your spine up towards the ceiling to curl your chin to your chest and pulling your belly button into your spine, coming into Cat pose. Work through Cat and Cow pose a few times, stretching and lengthening the spine.
Once you finish working through Cat and Cow pose a few times, sit your hips back onto your heels, bringing your toes together, but keeping your knees apart. Keep the arms reaching forward to stretch through the shoulders. Take a few breaths in this position, and if you’d like, walk both hands over to the right for a few breaths, and then over to the left for a few breaths to stretch out the obliques.
Seated Forward Fold
Start by sitting on your mat with your legs extended straight in front of you. Lengthen through your spine, sitting as tall as you can. Reach your arms in front of you to grab a hold of your feet or to place them in your shins.
Lengthen through your spine as much as possible — instead of just collapsing down towards your legs. Bend your knees as much as necessary to keep your back flat. This pose is a great hamstring stretch, but don’t make it deep and intense now; your ultimate goal is gentle relaxation.
Stay in the same seated position with your legs extended in front of you, and allow your back to stretch gently over your legs. Stay folded forward for a few deep breaths, feeling the stretch along your spine.
Wide Leg Forward Fold
Stand with your feet three to four feet apart, bringing your feet parallel to each other. Clasp your hands arms behind your back, pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist. Bend from your hips, folding forward, reaching the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor.
Relax your toes, and try to shift the weight into your toes. Stay here for a minute or two, allowing the crown of your head to keep reaching deeper to the floor.
Supine Bound Angle Pose
Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Open your arms out to the side at about 45 degrees away from the body. Let your knees drop out to the sides, bringing the bottoms of your feet together. Allow gravity to pull your knees wider, opening up the hips. Stay here for at least two minutes, breathing deeply, and sinking deeper into the pose.
Supine Spinal Twist
Laying on your back with your legs extended straight, pull your RIGHT knee in towards your chest. Hold the knee with your LEFT hand and guide it to cross over your body. Extend your RIGHT arm out to the side as if in a “T” position, and gaze out over your right hand. Hold for a minute or two, allowing the twist of your spine to increase with each exhale. Be sure to stretch the other side, as well.
Single Leg Happy Baby
Again, start by laying on your back with your legs extended, and pull the RIGHT knee back into your chest. Hugging the knee in towards the chest, grab a hold of the arch of your foot with your RIGHT hand. Bring the sole of the foot about parallel to the floor and pull the knee in close towards your armpit.
As you press into the sole of the foot with your hand, also press against the hand with your foot to increase the stretch. Keep the LEFT leg as straight as possible and you may also feel a stretch in the front of the left hip. Hold for 30-60 seconds taking deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
Sit next to a wall and lay on your side, keeping your hips as close to the wall as possible. As you turn to lay on your back, extend your top leg straight and slide it up the wall reaching towards the ceiling.
Follow with the other leg, bringing both legs up onto the wall, keeping the feet glued together. Bring the arms out into a “T” position and allow your hips to sink into your mat. This pose is great to get the blood flowing from your legs and feet back to your heart. It helps with circulation, and calms the body. Stay here for 2-5 minutes breathing deeply. To come out of this position, bend your knees in towards your chest and roll to one side.
Before falling asleep, take advantage of a peaceful moment for a brief meditation. Lay on your back with legs extended, slightly wider than hip distance apart, and your arms out at about 45 degrees. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to feel how relaxed you are after taking a few minutes to stretch and unwind after a long day. If you fall asleep in this pose, that’s alright, too!
Author: Deanna Dorman, an ACE® certified personal trainer, Balanced Body® Pilates instructor, and NASM® Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.