Simple yoga exercises for restful sleep
Lying in bed wide awake is no fun for anybody, especially when we have a full day the next morning. Often, when we don’t get a restful night’s sleep, we feel grumpy and restless the next day. Besides restlessness, people who suffer from insomnia are much more likely to experience health problems such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, and congestive heart failure, according to recent research.
Usually, after a long day’s work, the last thing on our mind is to go to bed, as we would like some time to ourselves to enjoy some leisurely activities. This often leaves our minds in a state of constant activity, as we are putting in a conscious effort to stay awake, which may be augmented by stimulants such as energy drinks or coffee. However, when it finally comes time for bed, our minds still tend to race, as it is in a perpetual state of activity leading use to lay wide-awake in bed wasting precious hours of potential sleep. But perhaps a little bit of exercise in the form of yoga is all we need to put our minds at ease and accelerate the initiation of slumber, as recommended by yoga instructor Rachelle Wintzen.
“All day long we are rushing around and working in flight or fight mode,” Wintzen tells The Huffington Post Canada. “This tells our adrenals to work hard to cope with internal and external stressors. This is very taxing on our body, and can put us at risk for adrenal fatigue.”
The act of stretching and breathing exercises have a calming effect on the body, and when combined with an Epsom salt and lavender oil bath beforehand, it can help calm the senses and relax the muscles, combating the negative effects of stress that is built up throughout the day. Wintzen recommends trying some yoga poses that can easily be done while lying in bed.
The poses can be done for one to five minutes, holding each position gently without straining yourself or causing pain. If specific poses are too difficult, it’s okay to stick with ones that are your favorites and incorporate them into your nightly routine. Poses you can choose from include:
Jan Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose)
- Sit on the floor or bed with legs extended straight in front of you and knees bent if necessary to keep the spine from rounding.
- Bend the right knee and open up the hip (making a “number four” with your legs) bringing the sole of your right foot to your left inner thigh. Try to keep the right knee down.
- Inhale and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale as you bend forward with the hips over the left leg, keeping the spine and neck long, and place the hands on either side of your left leg as you look in the direction of your left foot and breath in and out slowly.
- Repeat on the other side.
Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose)
- Sit on the floor or bed without slouching or bending forward and bring both soles of the feet together in front of you. Hold your feet or ankles with your hands.
- If comfortable enough, bring your feet as close as you can toward your groin without rounding the lower back.
- Inhale and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips, keeping the spine in line. Breathe in and out as you feel your muscles relaxing.
- Lie on your back and bring the knees into the chest
- Extend the left arm to the side at shoulder height, palm facing up
- Keeping the knees high, slowly bring them out to the right until they reach the floor or bed
- Place the right hand on top of the right knee. You can use the right-hand to massage the outer left leg and hip
- Gaze straight up at the ceiling or slightly to the left
- Repeat on the other side
With these simple yoga exercises, anyone can find rest and relaxation to help them get a wonderful night’s sleep, whether it’s from your own personal workout space or from the comfort of your own bed.
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