The National Sleep Foundation recently published information on how yoga has been shown to improve sleep and prevent insomnia. Their research found that yoga helps people in all kinds of situations sleep better. Research has been found to help prevent insomnia, to make pregnant women sleep better, and to ease the sleep problems associated with menopause and aging. What yoga poses are most beneficial to aid sound sleep? Try these 5:
1. Wall Pose
This pose is slightly awkward to get into, but surprisingly relaxing once you do. Lie on your back with your legs up against the wall; scoot up so your hips (sit-bones in yoga-speak) are right up against the wall and your legs straight. Relax, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Remain in the pose for five minutes.
2. Child’s Pose
This basic stretch is restful and soothing, while providing a gentle back and shoulder streatch to relieve tension. In yoga, it is considered the basic resting position that you return to again and again.
You’ll start in a kneeling position, sitting on your heels with your big toes touching. Bend all the way forward, resting your torso down between your thighs. Try to lengthen your spine and extend your head forward as much as you can. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and let gravity pull your shoulders toward the floor.
3. Supported Half Frog Pose
This pose aids smooths out tension and aids digestion. Start face down with a soft pillow lengthwise under your chest and stomach. Extend one leg out to the side and bend it at a 90-degree angle with your knee level with your hip. Keep the opposite leg straight and extend it as long as it will go. Turn your head to rest in the direction of your bent leg. Relax and breathe deeply, feeling the support of this gentle stretch.
4. Corpse Pose
Don’t be put off by the name, this pose allows your back to lie fully flat on the floor in a resting position that releases tension and anxiety. Start out lying on your back with your arms at your side. Bend your knees slightly and let them relax out to each side with your feet touching.
5. Reclined Spinal Twist
This stretch is a good one to do right in your bed before drifting off. Gentle twisting alleviates tension in your spine and will ease any back, neck or shoulder pain you’ve accumulated during the day.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Draw both knees to your chest and clasp your hands around them. Now keeping your right knee drawn up, extend your left leg down and extend your right arm out to the side at shoulder height. Now drop your right knee over the left side of your body, using your left hand to guide it down. To get the full twist, keep your upper body straight facing up while your hips twist to the right. Stay in the twist for a minute or two, breathing deeply and gently pressing your right knee toward the ground. If this is confusing, these more detailed instructions may help.