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In my last pose, I wrote about how tiredness can cause food cravings. But how are you supposed to get enough rest if you can’t sleep? There are a lot of things that can cause insomnia: stress, noise, busy lifestyles, alcohol, children, and caffeine among others.
Yoga is here to help. Regular practice encourages mindfulness, flexibility and well-being, all of which combat the effects of stress and anxiety that are a common cause of insomnia. Yoga benefits the physical body, balancing hormones and improving digestion, for example, which promotes better sleep.
If you have a regular practice and still struggle to fall asleep, or stay asleep, here are four specific postures you can do before bed to put your mind and body to rest.
• Bend the right knee and open the hip, bringing the sole of the right foot into the inner left thigh and the right knee toward the ground. If it doesn’t reach, support the right knee with a cushion.
• Inhale and lengthen the spine.
• Exhale as you bend forward from the hips over the left leg, keeping the spine and neck long, and place the hands on either side of the left leg. Gaze at the big toe of the left foot as you focus on the breath moving in and out.
• Repeat on the other side.
To perform do pose, raise your arms above your head with your biceps near your ears and your palms facing inward and touching. Inhale deeply. On your exhale, activate your core muscles and slowly lower your torso to the floor while bending at the waist. Keep your spine straight and stretch your arms as far forward as possible. Rest your buttocks on your heels while your forehead and pinkie fingers rest on the floor. Keep your neck relaxed. Expand your rib cage with every breath to control deep, slow and even breathing. Stay in the pose for 20 seconds. Come out of the pose by using your core muscles to lift your torso away from the floor while keeping your spine straight. Lower your arms.
Fold a blanket into a narrow stack that’s the length of your spine. Sit close to a wall and place the blanket behind you, perpendicular to the wall. Lie back onto the blanket, then scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible and send your legs up. Rest with your arms by your sides.
In Savasana it’s essential that the body be placed in a neutral position. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and lean back onto your forearms. Lift your pelvis slightly off the floor and, with your hands, push the back of the pelvis toward the tailbone, then return the pelvis to the floor. Inhale and slowly extend the right leg, then the left, pushing through the heels. Release both legs, softening the groins, and see that the legs are angled evenly relative to the mid-line of the torso, and that the feet turn out equally. Narrow the front pelvis and soften (but don’t flatten) the lower back.
Share your tips for a good night’s sleep in the comments!