Yoga isn’t reserved for meditation experts or monks in monasteries - we all stand to benefit from incorporating a little more of this workout in our day-to-day lives.
In one survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 55% of people who did yoga found it helped achieve better sleep.
What’s more, over 85% of respondents also suggested yoga helped mitigate some of the ill-effects of stress, which is a leading cause of poor sleep.
Yoga has a lot more benefits than better sleep. Studies across the years have revealed that this simple practice can also help reduce chronic pain, minimize the impact of depression, improve heart health, and help to help with anxiety.
How does yoga for sleep have such a profound impact on our well-being, and which poses are best for a well-rested night? Here’s everything you need to know:
How is it that this simple meditative practice can have such far-reaching effects on your day-to-day habits? The main purpose of yoga is to build a sense of awareness and call attention to the connection between the mind and the body. This allows you to stay mindful of the onset of external stressors and keeps you in control when you know you need some time to wind down.
If you’ve ever struggled with getting better sleep, you’ll know the most difficult thing to keep in check is a racing mind. Yoga for sleep helps train your mind to avoid getting stuck in these thought spirals, and instead, allows you to take charge and calm down enough to lull yourself into a state of rest.
When practicing yoga for sleep, specific poses can help more than others. Getting familiar with different stances and positions will allow you to get comfortable with forming a daily practice of your own.
A useful tip to keep in mind when practicing yoga for sleep is paying special attention to the breath, which can be as important as the pose itself. Here are five poses that can be especially useful:
1 - The Supported Child’s Pose: This position begins with your hands and knees touching the floor of your mat. Keep your knees apart to about as wide as the yoga mat, and have your big toes touch behind you as you sit your hips on your heels. Support your torso by draping yourself across a comfortable pillow. Turn your neck to one side and take a deep breath - stay in this position for about three to five minutes.
2 - The Twisted Roots Pose: If you spend long hours of the day sitting in front of a computer or putting any other kind of strain on your spine, this position will allow you to stretch those muscles out. Plant your heels on the foot of your bed, and make sure your knees are pointing to the ceiling. Proceed to bring your knees up toward the chest, and let them fall onto one side of the bed, while your hips are placed on the other. Spread your arms out, and then look in the opposite direction of your knees, holding this pose for ten breaths before switching to the other side.
3 - The Corpse Pose: One of the simplest poses when it comes to yoga for sleep, the corpse pose involves simply lying down, flat on your back, with your arms spread out to your sides. Keep your legs slightly apart as you take deep breaths for three minutes, focusing on the timing of your breath so that you’re able to gain back a sense of calm.
4 - The Lizard Pose: Begin with the downward dog pose before you come into a lunge position, in which your right thigh runs parallel to the floor, with your toes turned out. Keep your elbows rested on the ground while you press your left heel away from you, and keep your hips square. Hold this position for fifteen seconds as you take deep breaths if you really want to feel the full benefits of yoga for sleep.
5 - The Perfect Pose: Known as the Siddhasana in Sanskrit, this pose is used in yoga for sleep specifically for its calming effect on the autonomic system. Sit upright, while stretching your legs out. Bend your legs so that they are folded neatly, your left heel at your perineum, while your right is against the pubic bone, and close your eyes while you do a slow, rolling body scan. Be sure to adjust as is comfortable to you so as to avoid knee injury.
Yoga for sleep isn’t the only way you can ensure you’re getting your 8 hours every night. Creating a bedtime routine with calming practices that work for you will help contribute to higher quality sleep. Some other tactics for a calm night’s sleep include:
Putting your phone away before bed. The blue light in our phones and devices can do a lot of damage to our circadian rhythms, which makes getting a good night’s sleep difficult. Switch out the habit of scrolling through your newsfeed with reading something for better sleep.
Eat better. Your diet plays a key role in the quality of sleep you get each night. Incorporate more food rich in magnesium and zinc - these include different kinds of nuts, fish that are rich in omega-3s, and even dark chocolate for a sweet treat.
Take a warm shower before tucking yourself in. Taking a warm shower right before you go to bed can help cool your body down, and achieve better sleep. This is a naturally sleep-inducing strategy since your body is going to know it’s time to wind down when it feels a natural drop in temperature.
Yoga for sleep can seem intimidating, but with practice, these simple poses can make a serious difference to the quality and quantity of your sleep. You’ll be stretching your way to a good night’s sleep before you know it.
Does yoga help you sleep better? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.