These days, it’s hard to make it through the day without feeling some anxiety, emotion, or overall unease. For many people, that anxiety and stress can manifest itself in the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, moving your body and managing stress are both effective ways to help deal with the problem. Yoga is one way to incorporate both of these things. We spoke to Ame Wren, the founder and director of Boston Yoga School and instructor at JP Centre Yoga and North End Yoga, who shared some effective yoga poses for better sleep.
1. Wide-legged Ragdoll
Wren suggests using this pose to release tension from the day and as a mild inversion. Start by standing with your feet hips-width apart. Reach overhead and grab opposite elbows, then hinge at your hips and fold forward. You may need to bend your knees to help the hinge motion at your hips.
Stay bent over for about a minute and focus on relaxing your facial muscles, jaw line and the inside of your mouth. Take yawn-like inhales and sigh-like exhales.
2. Lizard lunge
If you sit all day, this pose can relieve some of the tightness that builds up in the hips and lower back from sitting.
Begin in a wide-legged ragdoll, then place your fingertips on the mat and step one leg back to a lunge. Let that knee come to the floor and allow your hips to sink down a bit. Rock from side to side to loosen the muscles around your hip joint. Once you settle into a good angle, experiment with coming down to your elbows and letting your head hang. Keep relaxing your jawline and breathing deeply. Stay for about a minute and repeat on the other side.
3. Resting crocodile
According to Wren, this pose can be deeply comforting to the nervous system and also help reset the spinal curves. Lay face-down with your feet about as wide as your mat, toes passively pointed. Rest your head on your hands and focus on breathing into your back body. Let everything relax and focus on slow inhales and long exhales.
4. Child’s pose
This is a gentle forward fold that helps to ease lower back tightness. From a table-top position, angle your knees slightly outward and your toes inward. Gently press your hips back toward your feet. Bring your head to the floor or, if you’re unable to do that, place your hands beneath your head like you did in resting crocodile pose. You can either stretch your arms forward or let them relax by your sides. Keep taking deep breaths.
5. Windshield-wiper supine twist
This pose releases the iliopsoas muscle, which is a prime mover during hip flexion. It can get tense from sitting and from stress.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet as wide as the yoga mat. Keeping your feet wide, turn your toes slightly out and let both legs fall to the left. Your right knee will be near your left foot as if your legs were windshield wipers. Stretch your arms overhead and take deep belly breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Lay on your back with your legs straight. Scoot your hips over to the left and move your head and shoulders and feet to the right, so that from the aerial perspective you resemble a banana. Make sure both sides of your buttocks remain on the floor. Stretch your arms overhead and hold your elbows.
If it’s too intense, Wren suggests lessening the angle of the arms and legs. For more sensation, increase the angle. Stay and breathe deeply into your abdomen for up to five minutes. Repeat on the other side.
7. Savasana with counted breath
This pose should be done in bed. Lay on your back with your legs outstretched and arms turned open by your sides. Feel free to have a low pillow under your head. As you inhale, slowly count to four. As you exhale, slowly count to six. Repeat, keeping the breath calm and soft, until you fall asleep.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2020/05/22/yoga-poses-before-bed/
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