Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy when you have a tendency to have a busy, and sometimes worried, mind.
Not only does it make it harder to fall asleep, it also makes it harder to stay asleep.
Sleeping properly is an important aspect of our physical and mental wellbeing and not sleeping well enough will have detrimental effects if it happens too often.
Amongst other things:
- It affects your memory and ability to think and concentrate
- It affects your mood and can decrease your ability to deal with stress
- It weakens your immune system
No wonder we feel rubbish if we don’t sleep enough!
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
My clients always comment on how well they sleep after a yoga class.
And I have experienced that personally as well.
I don’t have any issues sleeping anymore but years ago, it was another story.
Here are the poses I recommend if you have trouble sleeping. You can try them as a sequence or experiment with a couple of them and see which ones work best for you.
Start on all four with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Breathe out and engage your tummy muscles.
Focus on starting all the movements from the base of the spine.
Moving from the tailbone, start by rounding your back until your head naturally hangs down and you look towards the floor.
Now, start at the base of the spine as you start to lengthen the back and follow that stretch up the length of the spine until your head starts to lift.
Breathe out as you round the back and look down.
Breathe in as you extend the spine and look forward.
Repeat this wavelike movement of your spine for as long as it feels really comfortable. You are aiming at relaxing your body, not putting it under any extra strain.
Start on all four with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly under the hips.
Take your bottom towards your heels and extend the arms out in front of you. Your forehead is either on the floor or close to it.
If you like, you can have a cushion ready to rest your forehead if you can’t quite make it to the floor.
Seated forward bend
Sit tall with your legs stretched out in front of you. Check that your sitting bones are resting against the floor and engage your tummy muscles. Keep your shoulders back and your sternum lifted. Have your hands resting on your lap.
As you breathe in, lengthen the spine and take your hands up towards your chest.
As you breathe out, turn the palms away from you and stretch the arms forward towards the feet (don’t worry about how far you go!).
As you breathe in, scan the outside of your legs with your hands and come back up with your hands in front of your heart.
Keep this movement going with your breath. Focus on starting the movements from the base of your spine.
And don’t worry about how far down your legs you reach!
Again, we are trying to relax the body. Not start a mini war with it.
When I practise this pose, I like to use the outbreath to let go of anything that has worried me or caused me some aggravation. Why don’t you experiment with that?
You can also experiment with a cushion underneath your buttocks if you find the stretch a bit uncomfortable.
Another modification you can do to make it work best for you is to gently bend the knees. This is especially good if you have tight hamstrings.
Lying down on your back, start by tilting your pelvis so that your lower back is directly against the mat. Engage your abdominal muscles.
As you breathe in, lift the tailbone of the floor and as you breathe out, relax it back down.
If that felt comfortable, the next time you breathe in, you can lift the tailbone and a little bit more of your back off the floor. Always relaxing down on an outbreath.
Keep working your way up your spine and remember to always keep it comfortable.
Try and keep your mind focused on the movements of your spine. Feel it moving one segment at a time, both as you lift up and as you relax down.
After a few repetitions, either rest in Savasana or move on to the lying down twist.
Lying down twist
Lie down on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the floor.
Have your arms stretched out at shoulder height with your palms facing up.
As you breathe out, take your knees over to the right and – if that feels comfortable for you – turn your head to look to the left. (You can just take the knees to the side and keep your head looking up if you prefer).
Stay there for a few moments if that is comfortable and simply watch your breath.
On an inbreath, take your knees and head back to the centre.
As you next breathe out, take your knees to the left and turn your head to the right.
Stay in this position for a few breaths if that feels good to you.
On an inbreath, take your knees and head back to the centre.
And get ready for Savasana.
Lie down on your back, with your feet about a yoga mat width’s apart. You want the legs to be relaxed so have your heels rolling in and the rest of the feet rolling out.
Have your arms by your side, palms facing up.
Check that your whole body is comfortable. You might want a cushion under your head and/or under your knees. And you definitely want to have a blanket on you.
You can even get in your bed at this point, as you might very well fall asleep during your practice.
All you have to do now is to close your eyes and take your awareness to your breath.
As you breathe in, feel your abdomen and chest expand.
As you breathe out, consciously allow your body to relax.
Keep your awareness on your breath. And with each outbreath, allow yourself to let go and to relax.
If thoughts come up in your mind, acknowledge them and let them go. Don’t get involved with them.
Stay in this position for as long as comfortable.
I have used these poses many times. Either as a whole mini sequence or just 1-2 individual poses and I can tell you that they really help to relax your body and mind so that falling asleep (and staying asleep) is much easier.
For a good night’s sleep, check out my mini sleep well sequence:
PS: check out my Facebook group for more tips and advice on living a life free of the impact of worry and fear.