Struggling to sleep at night? These five yoga poses will help calm your mind, relieve anxiety and improve your quality of sleep.
These yoga poses are beginner-friendly and all you need is an open space in your house. If you don’t have a yoga mat, place a towel down on your carpet. I recommend putting on some peaceful yoga music — for some of the classes I teach, I have curated an hour-long playlist on Spotify.
Pose 1: Forward Bend
To start, inhale as you lift your hands towards the ceiling for High Mountain pose. Exhale Forward Bend, hinging from the hips (bend your knees as much as you need to). While in a Forward Bend pose, you can straighten your legs, pedalling out one at a time, stretching your hamstrings. Grab opposite elbows and hang out in a ragdoll-like pose. Sway gently from left to right before slowly coming all the way up.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips while reducing anxiety, relieving stress and calming the mind. Creates a calming effect on the brain.
Pose 2: Child’s Pose
With knees to the edge of the mat, toes to touch, hips towards heels, extend your arms out in front of you, lifting elbows off the mat. Place your forehead on the mat, gently rolling from left to right.
Benefits: Stretches hips, thighs and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. Gently relaxes muscles in the front of the body while softly stretching muscles at the back.
Yoga Pose 3: Shoulder Stand (to Ear Pressure Pose)
Begin lying down and then use your core to lift your legs up. Place your elbows firmly on the mat, hands to your bra strap line to assist with holding the lift with a straight spine. Straighten legs. Hold for one minute. When you feel ready, you can add Ear-Pressure pose to this move. Gently bend your knees and press the inside of the knee area into the ears on each side of your heading, blocking out sound.
Benefits: Shoulder stand pose helps to improve circulation, calm headaches and relax the mind. Ear-Pressure pose (aka deaf man’s pose) helps calm the mind by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. It also removes excess stimuli.
Yoga Pose 4: Legs Up The Wall Pose
Any wall surface will do. The trick is to get your bum as close to the wall as possible. It might feel uncomfortable initially, but soon your body will relax into the pose. Focus on slow, steady breath and stay in the posture for 10 minutes.
Benefits: Deep relaxation, soothes swollen legs and feet, stretches hamstrings and lower back while relieving tension in the lower back (practise while experiencing period pain). This is a great pose to do before setting up for your nighttime routine as it really helps to calm the mind.
Yoga Pose 5: Corpse Pose
Start by lying down on the mat, feet and hands to the edges of the mat, hands facing upwards in a gesture of openness. Close your eyes and focus on your breath as you settle into a state of meditation. Try to remain as still as possible. Option 2: Bring your feet to touch and let your knees drop out towards the sides. Stay in this position for 10 minutes without moving. No fidgeting, no scratching.
Benefits: Sensory stimulation and external distractions are minimised to help the body completely relax. With a grounded body, mental energy can be channeled inwards and the mind can start to explore the body from the inside. This posture increases self-awareness and introspection, which has been linked to decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
READ MORE: The Best Yoga Flow For Relaxation
Tips for meditating
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If you don’t have time to do all five of these, just spend five to 10 minutes with your legs up against the wall. Remember to focus on your breath and clear your mind. Use the breath in each of these postures to keep your focus on being present on the mat, aware of your body.
When your mind starts to wander out the room, bring your attention back to your breath. When thoughts pop up, accept them and let them go. Let them pass through without attaching emotion to them and focus again on the breath.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, read this.