Calling all insomniacs. Back in the day, I would fall asleep anywhere and in any position without any shame. But nowadays my relationship with slumber is far more complicated and infrequent. I love to sleep and especially appreciate the health benefits (duh who doesn’t).
Research shows that people with insomnia are much more likely to experience associated health problems such as anxiety, depression, diabetes and congestive heart failure. Increased productivity and maintaining my waistline depends on it, so if you’re on team insomnia too I hope these yoga poses help you go from shavasana (final relaxation pose) to real deal deep sleep.
1. Start With An Attitude Of Gratitude
Long days and long hours make falling asleep a long process. So to reset my brain and let my body know it’s time to wind down I start my, “I hope I can shavasana all night” practice with meditation. It’s easy to focus on all that didn’t happen in the day when you’re constantly moving at a million miles per minute, however ten mindful minutes can change things tenfold. So close your eyes, start with the words “thank you,” and let the many blessings of the day unfold in pure silence.
2. Twist After You Shout
After I’m done partaking in a silent praise and worship session I twist it out in this seated position. My back is always where I feel tension first, so to breathe into the twist for a few breaths on both sides is always an excellent way to release the stresses of the day. Plus, not only does this pose help in calming the brain and de-stressing, it stretches the shoulders (another tension spot) while stretching the spine. Two tension releasers for the pose of one.
3. Child Pose Before You Doze
Speaking of the spine, the next pose I settle into on my mattress is child’s pose. This pose is my favorite during my restorative yoga practice simply because it’s not only easy, but easy to relax into. In fact, sometimes I fall asleep in class doing this pose. So when the sun is not up yet I still am, I take close to fifteen deep breaths in this yogi favorite in hopes of receiving a great sense of physical, mental and emotional release.
4. Move Forward In A Forward Bend
Many nights I jump in bed and replay the events of the day, and 9 out of 10 times I think, “Man..wish I would’ve gotten XY and Z done…” Sound like you too? Well to avoid this pre-bed mental beatdown, I melt down into a forward bend. This yoga pose can be intense (especially if your hamstrings are tight), so to release all possible additional stress I use a pillow or rolled up blanket to settle my chest into. Goodbye anxiety.
5. Be Happy Baby
Now that anxiety has been dismissed the next pose I love sinking into is happy baby. This hip opener instantly makes me smile because on every inhalation and exhalation I can’t help but think, “Wow, I can’t believe I can still bring my leg this close up to my face.” Don’t worry if you can’t, because using a yoga strap or towel is completely acceptable. I do one side at a time and next thing you know, I am on my side sound asleep.
6. Open Up Your Heart
With shavasana closer than ever, the final pose I love before bed is reclining bound angle pose. Especially if I am on my cycle, since this RAD pose helps relieve the symptoms of stress, mild depression, and menstruation. Funny thing is, this is actually how I sleep most nights, something about the openness of this pose that feels like I am letting out a huge physical woosah. As ladies we can be tightly bound since we live in a world that tells us to “cross our legs, guard our hearts, close off etc.,” so to lie in this posture is quite liberating for me. Sweet dreams coming up in about ten deep breaths.
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Robbie Ann Darby (RAD Experience) is a professional FitGirl, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in NYC. Follow her sweaty life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun health and fitness tips!