Ah, insomnia: the bane of at least 1 in every 4 Americans’ existence. Most of us can say we’ve been there: tiredly shuffling into bed after a long day, only to find that the next several hours will involve a whole lot of tossing and turning, intrusive thoughts, and very little sleep. There are only so many glasses of warm milk we can drink and sheep we can count before we eventually decide to turn to alternative sleep aids. The prevalent nature of insomnia has catalyzed a multitude of research studies, all conducted in search of holistic remedies. Many of these studies have revealed that yoga is an effective practice in inducing high-quality sleep. In fact, a national survey deduced that over 55% of Americans experienced better sleep after practicing yoga. Moreover, at least 85% of participants reported that yoga led to a reduction in stress levels. As frustrating and exhausting as it is to put up with sleepless nights, it does not have to be our reality. We’ll be going over a few of the best yoga poses for better sleep that will not only help your mind and body relax, but will also alleviate your insomnia.
Standing Forward Bend Pose
- To begin, stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Slowly begin to lower your upper body so that your torso drapes over your legs. If you find this difficult or feel too much strain in your hamstrings, you may bend your knees slightly, or as you see fit.
- As your torso folds over, you may allow your fingertips or palms to make contact with the floor. If you can not reach the floor, you can instead grab your ankles or shins. Alternatively, you may also bend your arms and use your hands to grip your elbows on opposite sides (e.g., right hand gripping left elbow, left hand gripping right elbow).
- Focus on your breath as you remain in this pose, and bask in this stretch.
- To come out of Standing Forward Bend, release your hands and slowly roll your spine back up one vertebra at a time.
*this pose allows the option of a prop for comfortability: you may either use a firm pillow, cushion, or rolled-up mat if you’d like!
- To begin, bring your mat close to a wall. You’ll be placing your legs on this wall, so try to find an open space that will allow you the room to do so.
- Seat yourself on your mat and bring the right side of your body either close to or against the wall. If you are using a prop, you may place it in the area of your lower back.
- Bring your upper body down to the mat so you are lying on your back. Slowly bring your legs up so that they are resting against the wall.
- Your arms may remain at your sides. Your legs can be straightened out, or you may allow for a slight bend in your knees. Your legs should be roughly parallel to the wall.
- Relax in this pose for a few minutes. In addition to sleep induction, this pose is great for stress reduction, as well as healthy blood circulation and alleviation of swollen ankles and feet.
- When you are ready to release this pose, you may bring your legs down from the wall and onto your left side.
- Begin by entering Downward-Facing Dog Pose. From here, step your right foot forward to the front of the mat. Plant your foot on the outer edge of your right palm, so that your toes are lined up with your right fingers.
- Lower your left knee to the mat. In contrast, your right knee should be bent and stacked above the ankle.
- Carefully begin to shift your body so that you can place both forearms flat on the mat. If you find this difficult, you can use a block and place your forearms, elbows, or hands on the prop rather than the floor.
- As you bring the entirety of your body closer to the mat, focus on your breath and stay in this pose for a few moments. When you’re ready to release, straighten your arms out and step your right foot back as you reenter Downward-Facing Dog. Then, repeat this pose with your left leg forward.
Sleep is such an important factor in our overall well-being. The healthier our sleep patterns, the more productive and present we can be in the moments of the day that matter most. By dedicating just a few minutes each night to practicing these poses, you’ll be able to say good night to insomnia and tuck it away for good!