Whether you realize it or not, sleep deprivation and stress go hand in hand. The vicious cycle it creates is all too familiar: we can’t fall asleep at night due to worry and stress, and then the next day we’re even more anxious and stressed due to lack of sleep and total exhaustion.
But there’s a simple solution to stopping the cycle: yoga. Yoga is touted as a gentle way to relieve tension in the body and calm the mind, which in turn can significantly lower stress levels. Practicing restorative yoga poses at night particularly, combined with deep and mindful breathing, works as a natural sleep aid and counteracts restlessness and insomnia, promotes full-body relaxation and ultimately achieves a better night’s sleep.
If you’ve noticed you feel tense before bedtime, try incorporating these 10 relaxing moves at home before hitting the hay and see if you don’t find yourself drifting asleep peacefully afterwards.
This essential resting yoga pose is a favorite among yogis, as it helps to calm the mind and relieve tension in the body. Fold your torso over your legs with your arms extended out in front of you, and rest your forehead on the ground softly while taking deep breaths.
Standing Forward Bend
This pose is known to help relieve headaches and insomnia in addition to lowering stress levels significantly. Stand with your feet about six inches apart and fold your torso to the ground, bending your arms and grabbing the opposite hand to opposite elbow. Allow your body to hang peacefully and your stresses to melt away.
In order to fall asleep quicker and easier, many yogi’s swear by the plow pose due to it’s inversion of blood flow; however, it’s important to stay in the pose for at least one to five minutes in order to reap the full benefits. Lie down on your back and lift your legs up over your head and then lower to the ground behind you. Keep your hands on the ground on either side of your body or brace them on your back for extra support.
Legs Up a Wall
This pose is exactly as it sounds: propping your legs up against a wall so the blood rushes back towards the heart for an excellent way to relieve stress and relax. Stay in the pose for up to five minutes for best results, and try to keep your eyes closed and continue deep breathing.
This pose mimics your sleeping position, which gets your body in the mindset for rest. Simply lie down on your back in a comfortable position with your legs straight out in front of you and your arms resting comfortably by your sides.
Supine Spinal Twist
This gentle twist and stretch, which can even be performed right in your bed, relieves tension throughout your entire spine, aids in digestion and helps cleanse you from the tension of the day. Lie down on your back and bring the right knee into your chest and then across your left side. Extend the right arm out and gaze to the right while taking deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Seated Spinal Twist
This pose, also called the Half Lord of the Fishes, helps to create a sense of relaxation in the body as it stretches and twists the spine. Stay seated and repeat the same twist as the Supine Spinal Twist. You can do the move with both legs bent or with one leg stretched out.
The butterfly pose tells your body it’s time to go into rest mode and is a great way to signal total relaxation to every part of your body. Lie down on your back and put the bottoms of your feet together so that your legs make a diamond shape; you should feel a stretch in your hips. Practice mindful breathing by focusing on each slow, deep breath come in and go out of the body.
Left Nostril Breathing
This technique isn’t a pose but it still carries an abundance of benefits when it comes to relaxation and clearing the mind enough for restfulness. Sit cross-legged and cover your right nostril with your thumb while extending your fingers out. Then take about 10 deep breaths in and out of your left nostril.
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