10 gentle yoga stretches
that will help you
sleep better than ever
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Want better sleep? You might want to try yoga. A Harvard study on insomnia found that people who consistently practiced yoga for just eight weeks slept better and longer than those who didn’t practice.(1) If you’re too busy to fit in some yoga, the good news is that you can improve your sleep with just one pose: Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani).
This asana is considered a restorative, gentle inversion and though it’s usually practiced at the end of a yoga class, it can be helpful on its own to relax the body. And when you’re able to relax the body, it becomes easier to relax the mind, setting the stage for more restful sleep. Practice Legs-Up-The-Wall at night before getting into bed, or in the middle of the night when sleep is elusive.
Add in some gentle breathing and the effects are even better! This pose can be practiced by beginners and beyond.
Getting Into Legs-Up-The-Wall
Sit sideways with your right side against the wall. Exhale and gently swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Coming into this pose may take some practice. Your sitting bones don’t need to be right against the wall, depending on the tightness of your hamstrings. Experiment with the position until you find the placement that works for you.
This pose is not intended to stretch the backs of the legs, so if you feel pulling in the hamstrings move farther away from the wall. Keep the lower back grounded to the floor. Make a small roll with a hand towel to place under your neck if the cervical spine at the base of your neck feels too flat. Open your shoulder blades away from your spine and release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.
9 More Yoga Poses for Better Sleep
Got a little bit more time before bed? Here are nine more relaxing poses to try before bed to make your sleep even better! All of these poses can be done on a yoga mat, or even kick the cat out and do them in bed!
Pose #1: Mindful Meditation
An excellent way to empty your mind before bed.
Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position on your bed or the floor. Sit on a pillow if you need to. Make sure your spine is straight, and breathe deeply. Try to clear your mind.
This may take some practice to do effectively.
Here are some more ideas to help you get a better sleep.
Pose #2: Forward Bend
A great stretch for your whole back body.
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Lengthen your spine, and slowly fold forward over your legs until your fingers touch your toes (or as far as they can go).
Focus on your exhalation to deepen your stretch.
Pose #3: Child’s Pose
A classic yoga relaxation pose.
Kneel on your bed or mat, and separate your knees so that they are hip width apart. Bend forward until your chest touches your thighs. You can either reach your hands out in front of you to lightly stretch your shoulders, or let them rest beside your legs.
You can hold this one as long as you like, taking easy, relaxed breaths.
Pose #4: Winding Down Twist
Twists are a great way to loosen up your spine before bed.
Sit cross-legged with your spine straight. Put your right hand on your left knee. Reach your left hand behind you, and place it on the ground. Slowly twist to the left.
Turn your head so that you are looking over your left shoulder, but to not force the twist with your neck. Take a couple of breaths here, and then repeat on the other side.
Pose #5: Reclining Goddess
This pose is a contender for the ultimate relaxing yoga posture. It’s also one of the simplest.
Lie on your back, and bend your knees so that the soles of your feet are touching each other. Press your feet together, and let your legs hang down towards the floor.
If this is uncomfortable, place a pillow or towel under one or both of your knees.
Pose #6: Happy Baby Pose
Who wouldn’t want to go to bed happy?
Lie on your back, and as you exhale, bring your knees up to your chest.
Hold the outsides of your feet with your hands (you can also loop a belt over each foot if this is difficult), and open your knees so your legs are a little bit wider than your chest. Breathe deeply, and gently pull your knees up toward your armpits.
Ensure that your shins are pointing straight up by positioning your ankles directly above your knees, and gently press your feet up into your hands or the belt. Breathe gently.
Pose #7: Pigeon Pose
This pose is a bit more intense than the others, but great for your legs if you have done a lot of walking or standing today.
Start on your hands and knees; hands shoulder width apart. Take your right knee forward and place it just behind your right wrist. Bend your knee so that your ankle is just in front of your left hip.
Extend your left leg straight back, avoiding any tendency for the leg to point toward the outside of the mat. Your heel should point straight toward the ceiling.
On an exhalation, fold your body over your right leg. Stay there as long as feels comfortable, breathing deeply, and then repeat on the other side.
Pose #8: Easy Supine Twist
Another very relaxing pose and a good one to do between a couple of more intense postures.
Lying supine, hug your knees into your chest, then bring your legs over to your left side with your left arm. Slowly allow your head to look over your right shoulder, without forcing the twist with your neck. Hang out here for a few breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Pose #9: Fish Pose
One final intense pose before bed!
On your back, bring your hands underneath your hips and lift your chest up off the ground slowly. Gently stretch your head back. Hold this pose for a little while, come down for a couple of breaths, and repeat.
Complement your evening yoga with these 10 poses to do in the morning to keep your body burning fat all day!
Main source: www.theheartysoul.com