You are probably one of the many people who find it difficult to get some shut-eye, even after trying everything－counting sheep, sleeping pills, researching for the best solution out there (such as this article), often to no avail. You still find yourself staring at the ceiling, waiting for the vestiges of sleep to kick in.
You are not alone. In an annual survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of the adult US population in highly urbanized countries like Washington and Pennsylvania experiences sleep deprivation. This means that they get less than seven hours of sleep each night, as opposed to the recommended eight to nine hours. Lack of sleep can lead to a host of health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, and depression. (Want to know how food can affect your sleep? Check this out.)
The good news is that some people reported sleeping better after a yoga session because of its known effect to reduce stress, according to one study. So if you haven’t given this low-impact exercise a try, you should now. (Can’t decide which class to take between Pilates and yoga? Here’s a quick guide to help you out.)
Here are six poses yogis (a term used to describe yoga practitioners) recommend to help you snooze (Note: You can do these positions even on your bed!):
Sit on the bed like that of a traditional Japanese warrior addressing his superiors－knees together on the floor and with your bum sitting on your feet. Straighten your back, and focus on your breathing to help ease calmness.
This pose gives your leg muscles a proper stretching while still making you comfortable－a must-have feeling if your goal is to sleep after the exercise.
From a tabletop position (knees and hands on the floor), pull your hips closer to your heels. Stretch your arms as far as they would go, with your fingertips touching the bed. The space between your knees can go as far as what’s comfortable to you. Take deep breaths, adjusting your position to make way if possible.
This yoga position is known to help in relieving stress and tension in the body. For additional comfort, massage your head by rubbing your left and right temples on your arms alternately.
After the Child’s pose, go back to the tabletop position. Then, slowly, sink your back and shoulders as low as it would go, now forming a C-curve on your spine while inhaling deeply. Hold it for six seconds, then release by doing the opposite: raise your back as high as they would go, making a cave-like C on the bed. Exhale deeply as you go up. Do 5-10 reps or until you cannot hear “cracks” anymore.
This animal imitation pose relieves tension in your shoulders and torso, especially if your work requires you to sit around all day－one reason why cats love to stretch.
While facing the wall or your headboard, extend your legs up on the wall. If you can’t do it with your legs straight, leave a small space between your butt and the wall until you can do so. Assume the position for about five minutes, inhaling and exhaling deeply as you do so.
Reclining Goddess Pose
Bring down your legs from the wall then put your feet soles and heels together. Your legs must form a shape of a diamond. If you can, your feet must be as close to your pelvis, and your knees must remain on the ground. If not, just assume the most comfortable position you can muster. Put your right hand on your belly and the left one in your heart and feel your breath moving from your stomach to the chest, then out of your mouth.
This one is the easiest of all. From the Reclining Goddess pose, extend your legs on the bed and act dead. Hold this position while focusing on your breathing. Rest for five minutes.
Because this is the most relaxing pose in the bunch, it lowers your heart rate and cools you down. Both help in inducing sleep, according to experts.
If the Corpse pose left you unsatisfied, here’s a bonus pose…
Left Nostril Breathing
Sit with your legs crossed on the bed, or if you like sleeping on the side, lie down while facing the right. Using your thumb, cover the right nostril. Take 8-10 deep breaths, expelling the air from the left nostril.
Instead of seeing these yoga poses as another thing you should do before going to bed, think of it as a form of relaxation or a cheap way to pamper yourself. Yoga is not meant to be a chore but as an avenue to calm your mind, body, and spirit. These poses can help you achieve just that. Sweet dreams!