Getting a good night’s sleep is important for a number of different reasons. It’s during these hours that our body repairs itself on a cellular level and it’s also when it gets rid of any toxins. It’s been said that without a good night’s rest, the body can age faster, and a general overall feeling of not being 100% often ensues the next day. This can lead to a compromised immune system, confused thinking and an inability to get through daily tasks.
With all of this in mind, getting a minimum of six hours a night, but ideally around eight hours of sleep, is really important. If you are struggling to get some shut eye, yoga can help. By reducing stress levels and relieving tensions in the body yoga can work to calm the mind and help those suffering from insomnia or for those of us who simply feel like they have too much on their minds to be able to sleep. It’s not only the poses, but the deep breathing involved in yoga which has led it to be used as a useful sleep remedy across the world.
Here we’ve listed a few of the recommended yoga poses to help assist with a good night’s sleep. These yoga poses are great for all levels of flexibility. However it’s important to note that if you have injuries of any kind, speak to your doctor first before doing any form of yoga.
Forward Bend (Hastapadasana)
There is a standing and seated version of this pose which we will describe. For the seated version of this pose, use a pillow to sit on if your hips are tight. Simply lean forward with your legs crossed and stretch in front of you with both arms and your head down . Try to stay in this pose for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply.
For the standing version of this pose, stand straight with both feet together and arms by your side. While breathing deeply and balancing your weight equally on both feet, extend your arms over your head and breathe out as you bend forward and reach towards your toes. Continue to focus on breathing deeply as you hold this pose for 20-30 seconds.
Legs up the wall (ViparitaKarani)
For this pose you need to lie down on your back. Lift one leg at a time and rest it on the wall in front of you so that your body is making a 45 degree angle. This pose can be held for as long as 5 minutes. Simply keep breathing deeply with the eyes closed. This pose helps to induce a state of relaxation and relieves stress. To further enhance your experience use a soft eye pillow.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose is often the mainstay resting pose for many yoga classes. It’s a wonderful pose that is said to help calm the mind while relieving tension in the entire body. For this pose, sit on your heels and slowly fold forward onto your thighs and bring your forehead to the ground with your arms extended or by your sides. Child’s pose is said to help calm the nervous system, aiding in a good night’s sleep.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is a wonderful pose that helps the mind and the body let go of the worries and stresses of the day. Simply lay on your back with your legs hip width apart and your arms by your sides as they fall with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and breathe deeply through the nose. As you breathe, feel each part of your body relax and become heavy. Search for tension by feeling each part of your body and consciously release and relax these areas. Holding this pose anywhere from 5-15 minutes will help your body enter a complete state of relaxation.
Butterfly Pose (BaddhaKonasana)
Sitting with your spine straight and your legs spread out, slowly bend your knees so that the soles of your feet touch each other. Grab your feet with your hands and bring them in as close as you can to your body. As you breathe out slowly, press the thighs and knees towards the floor gently. You can then start to flap both legs in this motion slowly and gradually increase the speed. Slow down before you decide to stop, and then take a few slow deep breaths before exiting the pose. This is a wonderful stretch for the knees, groin and inner thighs and helps to remove the fatigue associated with hours spent walking or standing.
Cat Stretch (Marjariasana)
To do this pose you need to come up onto your hands and knees. Form a table top with your back, imagining your hands and knees are the legs of the table. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and flat to the ground. Keep your knees hip width apart as you look straight in front of you. As you breathe in tilt your head back and push your belly button downwards while raising your tailbone. Hold this position as you breathe deeply. Then exhale as you drop your chin to your chest and arch your back up as high as you can. Hold this position focusing on your breath before returning to the table top position. It’s recommended to complete 5 or 6 cat stretches before exiting the pose.
Getting the right amount of sleep each night is important for our overall health, and to ensure we can get through the next day with a spring in our step. While many of us have busy lives and it can feel like working in a yoga routine before bed might be a little difficult, if it ensures a good night’s sleep, it’s worth investing an extra 15-20 minutes in your nighttime routine. While yoga helps to calm excessive mental chatter that prevents sleep, it also helps the body relax physically, which promotes a calm and tranquil state of being required for sleep.