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March 29, 2017
AFTER A LONG stressful day, it can be difficult to unwind and relax before bed. The irony of insomnia is that the more time you spend worrying
about falling asleep, the more tense you get — and that only makes the sleep you crave all the more elusive.
Fortunately, many people find relief with yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice that seeks to connect the mind and body. Most American yoga classes focus on asanas, or the physical poses, though you may also be exposed to meditation and breathing techniques along the way. All of these practices have the potential to help you relax by triggering your nervous system to wind down — and that sets the stage for sleep.
The good news is that you don’t have to be super-flexible to enjoy the benefits of some of these classic yoga positions. Try doing these poses an hour or so before your regular bedtime to relax your body and quiet your mind.
Also known as upside-down relaxation, this pose is done by lying on the floor close to a wall. Use the wall to prop your legs at a right angle to your body, and rest in this pose for a minute or two. You should feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings, and the blood will flow from your feet down to your abdomen easily, providing a much-needed rest for your circulatory system after a long day on your feet.
This is a classic resting pose. To do it, kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels. Raise your arms over your head and bend forward at the waist, so your forehead and hands touch the floor. Your arms should be extended as far as they can reach. Breathe deeply and feel the connection of your forehead to the earth — a meditative position that should help you feel grounded and relaxed.
Also known as reclining bound angle pose, this is the ultimate relaxation pose, but it takes a little doing to get into it. You’ll need a blanket to roll up into a bolster first. Place this on the floor behind you so that the length of the bolster will line up with your spine. Sit on the floor and bring your heels together in front of you, pulling your feet as close to your bottom as you can. Next, lie backwards onto the bolster so your back is supported but your head touches the floor. Turn your palms upwards and allow your arms to rest at your sides. This pose allows for deep breathing and pelvic release, both of which calm your central nervous system.
It’s important to remember that bedtime yoga for relaxation is not a strenuous exercise routine — you should never feel breathless or sweaty after your relaxing yoga stretches. It only takes about 15 minutes each evening to reap the benefits, but you should aim to do your poses every night. Your new habit will signal your body to relax more deeply before bed around the same time each night, reinforcing your newer, healthier sleep patterns. Yoga is a great addition to an overall healthy lifestyle, so give these poses a try tonight and see how they can help you drift off peacefully.
If you’d like to read more about the benefits of yoga, we found a great in-depth article on Jen Reviews.