*Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational purposes, and is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding new treatment protocols. This is a sponsored post, and all image sources are from Siddhi Yoga.
Chronic stress can lead to a variety of health issues, as your body is on constant alert. There are many yoga poses you can do that can help to reduce your stress levels, and also to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia and other sleep problems are common in modern society, and stress has a lot to do with that. Lack of quality sleep can also lead to anxiety and depression, and affect your heart health.
It can be helpful to do some relaxing yoga poses and focus on your breath before going to bed. Yoga in itself will naturally get you in sync with your breath, which then helps all parts of your body to unwind. Yin or restorative yoga are slower poses that you hold for a longer period of time and breathe into, and have a calming effect.
When you undergo yoga teacher training there will often be a Yin or Restorative yoga module, because it’s both effective and enjoyable for students. When you’re in any one of these poses, do take it easy and don’t push yourself past your comfort zone. It is meant to be a peaceful and enjoyable practice that relaxes you, and not cause additional stress or harm.
Here are some of the best yoga poses for relaxation, de-stressing and sleeping, with step-by-step instructions you can follow and try out tonight:
1. Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
- Start by sitting on the floor.
- Ensure that your posture is good, that your shoulders are straight.
- Extend your legs out straight in front of you.
- If you need to bend your knees so your spine stays straight, do so.
- Open your hips by bringing your right outer thigh down to the ground.
- You want the sole of your right foot to sit in your inner left thigh.
- You may need to use a cushion if your right knee doesn’t touch the floor.
- Hinge at the hips as you bend forward. You want to make sure the spine and neck stay long.
- Put your hands on either side of the left leg.
- Spend a few minutes in this pose. Take deep breaths in and out. You can use a pillow or a bolster to prop your upper body up for a more relaxing take on this pose. You can also sit on a pillow or a block if you have tight hamstrings.
- Repeat on the other side.
2. Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)
- Start by lying on your back.
- Bend your knees, putting the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
- Start with your right knee. Bring it to your chest.
- Put the right ankle below your left knee. The right knee should be looking to the right.
- Lift your left foot off the ground and bring it towards your chest.
- You can put your hands behind your left legs and pull them further into your chest for a deeper stretch.
- This will stretch out your hip.
- While you’re breathing in and out on this pose, bring hips parallel.
- Stay in this pose for a few minutes and repeat on the other side.
3. Reclined Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
- Start by lying on your back with your knees up against your chest.
- Bring your left arm straight out to the side with palms facing up. They should be parallel to your shoulder.
- Keep your knees high and bring them out to the right. If your right leg does not touch the ground, use a prop to make the ground come up to you.
- Bring your right arm straight out with palms facing up at shoulder height.
- For a deeper stretch, bring your right hand on top your right knee.
- Let yourself sink into this pose for up to five minutes. Breathe deeply into the left side of your body.
- Repeat on the other side.
4. Legs on the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
- Start on the ground, sitting sideways against the wall.
- You want to bring your legs up against the wall with your buttocks touching the wall. Start by bringing one leg up and then the other.
- Bring your arms to your sides with your palms facing up.
- You can close your eyes and relax into this pose for as long as you want.
- For further relaxation, you can put an eye pillow over your eyes.
- If you find that your hamstrings are tight in this pose, you can move your buttocks further away from the wall.
You can do one or all of these poses before you go to bed. Yoga teachers will usually recommend that you try a few different ones each night, and alternate them around. This helps to stretch out various areas of your body which may have become tight and stressed out. These poses are all incredibly relaxing and gets you breathing deeply, preparing your body for sleep.
Read More: How Much Time are You Wasting on Sleep?
Read More: Stress Management: How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh
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