This article is shared with permission from our friends at PaleoHacks.
Are you getting your recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night? If not, you might be one of the 30 percent of adults (1) suffering from symptoms of insomnia. These yoga for insomnia poses can help.
Not getting enough sleep is now recognized as a public health problem for a variety of reasons. Sleep deficiency is related to memory loss, loss of concentration, automobile accidents, and medical errors. People that experience sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer.
Studies show that yoga can help improve insomnia because of its ability to improve breathing and decrease stress (2). Restorative and cooling yoga poses help to activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which is also known as the “rest and digest state.” The PNS acts to lower your blood pressure, relax your muscles, and prepare your body and mind for relaxation and sleep.
Even if you don’t have time, or access, to get to a yoga class daily, these five yoga for insomnia poses can be done at home in the comfort of your own bedroom. Practice these five yoga poses right before bed to unwind, relax, and prepare for a sound night of sleep.
Start off these yoga for insomnia poses by sitting up tall with your legs crossed and closing your eyes. Begin to draw in a few slow, deep breaths in through your nose. Exhale them out slowly through your mouth. After a few of these breaths, find a slow and natural breath. Keep this breath and allow your gaze to be soft or your eyes to close as you go through these poses.
Easy Pose Forward Bend | Hold 2 min
Begin seated with your legs in a crossed position. Engage your belly and keep your back straight as you walk your hands out in front of you, keeping your sitting bones pressing into the ground.
Continue to walk your hands out in front of you until your back begins to round. Then, let your shoulders round forward and your head hang heavy. Feel the back of your neck, your shoulders, and upper back release. Stay here for two minutes.
To come out of this pose, begin to roll up slowly one vertebrae at a time, letting your head come up last.
Seated Spinal Twist | 1 min per side
Start seated with your legs straight out in front of you. Sit up tall, bend your right knee, and cross your right leg over your left to place your foot on the ground outside of your left thigh.
Keep your spine long and your belly engaged as you wrap your left arm around the outside of your right thigh to twist your upper body to the right. Make sure you keep your shoulders from rounding forward, your belly engaged, and your neck long the whole time. Keep your breath calm and twist yourself a little bit deeper each time you exhale.
Hold for one minute and then switch sides.
Happy Baby | Hold 2 min
Lie down on your back, and draw your knees in towards your chest. Keep your knees bent and take your arms inside of your thighs, reaching your hands for the outside edges of your feet.
Your lower back and sacrum should stay pressing into the ground. If they begin to lift off the ground, grab your ankles or the backs of your thighs instead of your feet. Keep your head and shoulders resting on the ground, and take a couple of gentle rocks side to side to massage into your lower back and kidneys.
Hold for two minutes, and then slowly release.
Plow Pose | Hold 1-2 min
Begin lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms face down. Straighten your legs to lift your feet up towards the ceiling, and flex your feet. Make sure to have your chin slightly tucked so that the back of your neck is long.
Press your palms down into the ground as you use your abs to lift your hips up and over your head to bring your toes to the floor behind you. Once your hips are up over your head, bend your elbows and take your hands to your lower back to give you some support.
Press your upper arms down against the ground to keep the weight from dumping into your neck. Make sure to keep your gaze straight up towards your thighs and do not turn your head side-to-side.
Hold for one to two minutes and then use your hands to slowly lower you back down one vertebrae at a time.
Tip: If you have any type of neck or spinal injury, this pose is not recommended. Instead of going into the full plow pose, you can stay flat on your back with your legs straight up, reaching your feet towards the ceiling.
Supta Baddha Konasana | 5 min
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly.
Keeping your knees bent, walk your feet and legs together to touch. Then, allow your knees to fall out to the sides and bring the soles of your feet together to touch.
Close your eyes and stay here for five minutes. Try and allow yourself to become fully relaxed here. Keep your breathing slow and natural. Keeping your hands on your heart and belly, notice your heartbeat. Feel your chest and belly rise and fall with your breath. Allow the muscles of your face to stay completely relaxed. Feel your body and mind begin to let go.
Tip: If it becomes too intense on your hips with your knees falling out wide, allow your legs to straighten out in front of you for a Savasana position.
After completing these five poses, allow yourself to stay relaxed and go right to sleep.