“WHY CAN’T I SLEEP?”
We’ve all been there. You want to yell at your brain and body for rebelling against the idea of sleep. You have a seemingly endless list of things to do tomorrow. There is no time for this nonsense. You know this. Yet for some reason the rest of your body did not get the memo, and now you find yourself reaching out for every ridiculous remedy from counting sheep to drinking warm milk.
Yoga is a fun and easy way to help the body wind down for sleep. We aren’t talking any crazy pretzel-like positions that make you cringe just *thinking* about them, but rather, accessible poses that will not make you sweat, just breathe a sigh of relief.
For the first two points of this article we’ll discuss how to setup a yoga routine for nightly use if you chronically have sleep issues and want to make relaxing yoga a nightly habit. The following points are for people who are just looking for a couple of poses to help ease their racing mind. Regardless, all of these points will help you get a better night sleep if you wish to indulge.
How to Use Yoga to Help You Sleep
- Create the Mood
If you are going to create a routine for sleep, the first thing you need to do is establish a firm routine. The first important part of this is unplugging from all electronics early which mess with your sleep. Next find a couple of routines that ease your mind. Listening to calming music, drinking tea, reading, or a hot shower to wind you down. These little routines will help you establish habits that aid sleep beyond yoga.
- Create the Space
Yoga does not require a sacred temple or anything like that, but it does help to set aside a non-cluttered area for home practice. Create a consistent space for your yoga nightly routine maybe aiding it with some candles, incense or art. Or maybe if you plan to do just poses on the bed make sure that it is well-made with the covers firmly tucked into place. Also, make sure to have any yoga props you need handy by your yoga space.
Every yoga practice, no matter how short, should begin with an opening meditation. This does not need to be particularly long meditation; it can just be a couple of minutes. Basically you just want to shift your mind away from all other activities at hand to the practice of yoga. Just take the time to clear your mind preparing yourself for your poses and bed.
- Don’t Push Yourself Hard
The thing about any type of exercise at night, including yoga, is that you can make yourself even more away if you aren’t careful. When going through the yoga poses do not hurt yourself hard at all. Very important note: avoid any poses that involve back bends. Feel free to explore poses beyond what I post here, but anything that involves a back bend will amp you up.
- Try Out These Poses
- Legs Up the Wall
Place your two legs up the wall with your torso flat on the floor or bed. This allows all the blood to rush down to your head and heart for a super relaxing and restorative feeling.
- Forward Fold
Bend over to touch your toes. Release all tension in your neck and upper body allowing your upper body and arms to drape over your legs. If this pose makes your lower back feel tight, bend your knees deeply until your torso reaches the top of your thighs.
- Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Reach down the length of your legs folding forward. Keep your spine long and pull your chest forward before folding deeply into the pose.
- Reclining Big Toe Pose
Lie flat on your back. Extend on leg and interlace your fingers behind the thigh. Activate both feet as if they were standing on a flat surface. Switch legs.
- Final Resting Pose
This is a great one if you are tossing and turning in bed without getting comfortable. Lie flat on your yoga mat with your feet splayed to the sides and the back of your hands resting on the mat by your hips. Close your eyes and just allow yourself to slip away.
- Maybe Try Yoga Nidra
Yoga nidra is the yoga of sleep for those of you who don’t know. You receive a verbal guide which doesn’t hypnotize you, but it really does relax you. Most people fall asleep during yoga nidra although you are supposed to try to stay awake. Here is a yoga recording specifically made for those who are having a tough time sleeping. Try it out! Just as a warning though, if you decide you like yoga nidra, many of the recording wake you up at the end of the recording. Try to find recording specifically geared towards people trying to not wake up at the end of their yoga nidra practice.
Yoga for Sleep
A big part of getting a good night sleep is learning to ease your mind. A regular yoga practice along with meditation during the day can help ease your mind and body to get better sleep in the long run. Whether you are doing night time poses or starting a day practice, yoga can truly help you get the good night sleep you’ve been dreaming of.