Close your eyes and say "Om" to a great night of sleep. Sleep — and your sleep quality — are essential for the health of your whole body, from head to toe. After all, the overnight hours are the body’s prime time to restore, renew, rejuvenate and rest.
Many of us, however, have trouble falling, staying or simply getting enough shut-eye. Whether you’re a night owl or morning person, easing into bed with a set routine that includes rolling out a yoga mat just might help you sleep better. Both your mind and body (and yes, even your hair!) will thank you for heading into a good night’s rest, feeling loose, limber, relaxed and calm.
The Science of Sleep
An optimal amount of quality sleep is necessary to keep your body functioning at its best. A lack of sleep may result in poor memory, reduced focus, lowered immunity or mood changes. When you sleep, it allows the body and brain to repair, reset and restore. In turn, including a yoga practice into your bedtime routine can be a powerful tool in bolstering this process.
Practicing yoga for sleep works by:
- Supporting enhanced immune function
- Increasing mobility and flexibility
- Promoting relaxation by calming both the physical body and the mind
- Relieving muscle tension
- Enhancing and clarifying mindful, focused breathing techniques
Poses for a Good Night’s Rest
Use the following yoga poses for a healing, restorative practice to recalibrate and reset your body for a better night’s sleep. Cooling inversions, such as putting your legs up the wall, help alleviate insomnia as they calm and soothe the nervous system. And reclined twists help support the organs of elimination in their overnight detoxification process.
Balasana (Child's Pose)
- Start on the ground with knees bent and shins pressing down into your mat.
- Fold torso forward. You can add a pillow under your forehead if desired.
- Arms can extend forward alongside your ears. Or, allow them to rest alongside the body, palms facing up for receptivity or palms facing down for a more grounding sensation.
Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
- Start on all fours, bringing thumbs to touch in the center of the mat.
- Bring one foot forward, placing it directly outside the corresponding hand and wrist.
- Move the body forward to activate the stretch within the hip flexors.
- Then, push the body back, lengthening and stretching the hamstrings.
- Repeat on the opposite foot.
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Crystal Fenton is a freelance journalist and E-RYT-200 YACEP yoga instructor.
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