Sleep disorders are a common occurrence with people everywhere today. There could be a number of reasons for this like stress or work overload because of which we are continuously looking into our smartphone screens, even when lying in bed ready to sleep !
We may be one of the millions struggling with insomnia and many of us resort to pills for help. But, what if we put those pills aside and try a few minutes of a yoga routine for better sleep?
Many of us often overlook yoga as a solution to our health problems. But, the truth is that even the most subtle, and gentle yoga poses can bring amazing results.
Here is a set of yoga poses recommended for sleep improvement which you can perform an hour before you plan to sleep.
Let us start with the basic pose, the corpse pose to relax our muscles before we continue with the other poses. Here is what you need to do.
lie flat on your back and slowly close your eyes. Keep your arms extended well away from the body, with palms facing up. Keep your legs more than hip width apart, , with the toes falling outwards Actively shrug the shoulder blades down toward your hips and lengthen your spine as much as possible, keeping your lower back relaxed on the floor.
If the lower back is arching away from the floor too much and is uncomfortable, then bend your knees slightly and let the knees drop towards each other and touch and support each other. This leg variation will flatten the lower back to the floor. Remain in this pose until your heart rate slows down and your breath attains its natural, soothing rhythm. As you lie in Savasan, let your mind fix on the breath, feeling the gently rise and fall of the abdomen and chest.
This pose will help us stretch our tight muscles and joints, while also increasing side-to-side spinal flexibility.
While still in the Shavasan pose, bring your legs together and bend the knees into the chest. We can then extend your arms out in cactus position with your elbows at right angles, and palms facing up.
Now, slowly lower both knees to your left and rest them on the ground while turning your head to your right. Hold the pose for at least five deep breaths, in the process feeling your spine lengthen and twist. While doing you may even hear some cracking sound which is a good thing.
Use your abs to lift your knees and come back to initial position and repeat the same routine on your right side, facing your head to the left. You can repeat this pose 5 times on each side with a break of a few seconds in between. Come back to Shavasan after completing the routine.
From Shavasan l keeping your feet hip width apart, , lift your hips up, supporting your lower back with your hands. Ensure your elbows are not too wide. Roll left and right to keep the elbows well under the body.
We stay in this pose for 10 deep breaths, lifting your hips as high as you can. Bridge Pose is an ideal inversion to try out before bed. Not too strenuous like the Wheel, yet a strong stretch to ease the back.
Come out of Bridge Pose, and place a folded , blanket, or pillow against a wall. Lie down on your back, so that your bottom and lower back are on the blanket. Swing your legs up the wall.
We can keep our arms by our sides, or by our head. This way our shoulders too will get the required relaxation.
close your eyes and allow your entire body to relax, feeling gravity pulling you down as the wall and blanket support you. We can hold the pose for 30 seconds, and then roll the body over to one side with our knees bent, and head resting on the inside of our arm, staying in the fetal position for another ten seconds.
We can then roll up onto our knees and sit up. This pose relieves aches and pains from a sore lower back or tight hamstrings.
Sit in Vajrasana with legs folded back, thighs and knees together, and keeping our big toes touching. Inhaling, bend forward such that your torso rests on your thighs.
lengthen your neck forward and soften your back muscles downwards. Rest your arms beside your legs with your palms facing up, or arms extended out in front.
n Stay in the pose for five long breaths then sit up in Vajrasana. repeat this pose a few times.
From Vajrasana, let us bring our feet forward and extend it outwards in front of us. Let the muscles relax for about 10 seconds, while inhaling and exhaling deeply.
After this we can bend both knees, and bring the soles of our feet together. Using our hands, we need to open up our legs to the sides like a book, pressing our knees toward the floor with your elbows. If we want more of a stretch, we can extend our arms out in front of us and stay in the position for 10 breaths. Repeat another 5 times and rest for 10 seconds before starting the next pose.
The seated straddle pose is an active pose, but it will also prep our body for sleep. Here’s how we can go about doing it.
From the Butterfly Pose, allow our legs to straighten out into a straddle position with a distance of three to four feet between your heels. Ensure that our toes and knees are pointing straight up.
We must be seated with a tall spine or slowly fold forward at our hips, pressing our belly button and chest forward to prevent our back from rounding. We can either support the weight of our torso with our hands on our legs or feet, or rest them out in front of us. Hold the pose for 10 breaths, bring our legs together, and then extend them out again. Relax for 10 seconds and repeat 5 more times.
Head to Knee Pose can give our sides an amazing stretch and is one of the best asanas to do before bed time. To do it, we need to come up slowly from Seated Straddle, and bring both our legs straight out in front of us and shake them out for a moment to relax them.
Once we are relaxed, we need to bend our right knee, and place the sole of our foot against our inner thigh, pulling our heel as close to our body as we can.
Inhaling we need to sit up tall, and exhale as we fold our torso over our left leg. Our hands must be rested on the floor on either side of our leg, placing them on our shin, or wrapping them around the left foot.
Stay in the position for 10 breaths, sit up, and repeat the pose on the left side as well.
When we do the Standing Forward Bend, it will feel like all our stress is pouring out of the top of our head. Let us start.
After having done the head to knee pose, stand up and position yourself at the front of your mat in Mountain Pose. Inhaling let us reach our arms straight above our heads and as we exhale, we need to engage our abs and fold forward with a straight back.
Ensure that our chin is tucked in towards our chest, keep our shoulders relaxed, and extend the crown of the head toward the floor to create a long spine. Also remember that our weight must shift forward onto our toes, straightening the legs as much as possible and place our hands on the ground, fingertips lining up with the toes.
Hold the pose for 10 breaths, inhale and get back to initial position. Repeat 10 times more.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend is another relaxing pose that can help us loosen up our shoulders and destress before bed:
From Standing Forward Bend, slowly roll up vertebrae by vertebrae until you’re standing at the top of your mat. Stand with your feet three to four feet apart, placing your heels slightly wider than your toes.
Bring your arms behind your back, clasping your fingers and pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist. Fold forward, hinging at your hips, drawing the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor. Relax your toes, and try to shift the weight of your hips forward so they’re in line with your feet.
Stay here for 10 deep breaths. Then press into your feet, engage your quads, and inhale as you stand up.
If you start doing yoga before bed every night of the week, you’ll probably find that it becomes a part of your bedtime routine. And routines are very good for soothing our minds, which is exactly what we need for deep and peaceful sleep. On the flip side, if you feel too tired to do any yoga, break this routine, go to bed and enjoy your restful sleep.