We’ve all heard that getting adequate sleep is crucial to our overall health and well-being. Just one night of insufficient sleep can lead to moodiness, poor mental clarity and focus, and low physical energy. A prolonged pattern of sleep deprivation can even put us at a greater risk for certain diseases and health disorders.
As a new mom, I am more aware than ever of the rejuvenating, restoring bliss that is a good night’s sleep. One way I make the most of the precious hours of sleep I get is to take a few moments before bedtime to practice yoga postures that promote healthy, restful sleep. Here are a few of my favorites that can be done in the comfort of your bed!…
• Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle): This is my absolute favorite! I love this asana as a cool down during my classes, and it is a great way to wind down from your day as well. You can even use the pillows from your bed to enjoy a restorative version of the posture. It not only stretches the hips and groin area, which are areas where many of us hold tightness and tension, but it relaxes the mind and the sympathetic nervous system and promotes balance throughout the entire body. I find that placing one hand on the heart and the other on the abdomen is especially soothing. With the hands in place, focus on the rise and fall of the chest and abdomen as you breathe. And watch yourself drift into deeper and deeper relaxation…
• Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend): This asana is very calming for the central nervous system. It reduces anxiety, helping you to unwind. Physically, it stretches nearly all of the back body, from the Achille’s tendon into the upper back. For this reason, allow yourself to ease into the posture and watch the body open as you remain in the forward fold. Again, focus on the breathing for a deeper, more soothing experience of the asana- growing longer and more spacious on the inhale and relaxing and melting on the exhale. You can use pillows for a supported, restorative version, placing them along your legs and folding onto them.
• Balasana (Child’s Pose): Child’s pose is commonly known as a resting posture. It is where I instruct my students to go if they need to rest or recenter during class. It has additional benefits, though, including a gentle stretch for the lower back, hips, feet, and ankles and a relaxing effect for the neck and shoulders. Child’s pose is said to balance all seven of the subtle body’s main chakras, or energy centers, and calm the central nervous system. Again, pillows may be used as a prop if your forehead does not comfortably reach to the bed. Place a pillow between your knees and lay over it, turning the head to one side.
• Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose): This one only works if your bed is against a wall, but it is wonderfully relaxing if you are able to do it. Viparita Karani is essentially a very, very gentle version of shoulderstand. It comes with the benefits of an inversion without the exertion that most inversions require. Having the feet raised allows the bloodflow to move into the upper body, which is deeply rejuvenating. Use a folded blanket under the pelvis. This elevates the heart above the head, moving circulation into the head and helping you to relax.
• Reclining Twists: Reclining, or supine, twists are a great way to stretch the back after a long day. The twisting action in the abdomen also aids digestion. If it feels okay for your neck, take your gaze in the opposite direction of the knees. This creates a spiral from the tailbone up to the crown of the head. If you have any neck sensitivity at all, keep your gaze either straight up or toward the same direction as the legs.
So, there you have it, my friends. Move through some or all of these asanas as you prepare for sleep and make the most of those hours you get. Gotta go now… time for a nap!
(Looking to get the gear to take sleepytime to the next level? Check out Casper mattresses… and thanks to them for inspiring this post!)