Week 2:

Yoga poses to improve your sleep

Living in such a fast-paced culture can cause many of us to suffer from sleep issues, whether this is struggling to fall asleep at night, waking up numerous times during the night or not being able to go into a deep sleep, leaving us feeling tired at the start of the day. Although there are many reasons for sleep issues, the root cause is often an over-active mind and physical tension. Instead of suffering through this and/or reaching for those sleeping pills, try these 5 restorative yoga poses every night to help calm the mind and release the physical tension. We often don't realise how stressed we are until we stop and take a few moments to really calm ourselves.

Follow the poses in order, and really focus on your inhalation and exhalations with each one.

Count as you inhale and exhale to make your breathing even, i.e. count to 4 as you inhale, and count to 4 as you exhale. Breathe only through your nose, and ensure you breathe down to your abdomen (you'll know you're doing this right by seeing your belly rise and fall with each breath) so that the oxygen is reaching your whole body and not just your lungs. Try to clear your mind and think of nothing else but your breathing during these sequence. If your mind starts to wander, catch yourself and bring your focus back to your breath. This will help to calm and focus the mind.

Hold each pose for 1 minute before moving on to the next one.

1) Wide-legged standing forward bend

Wide Leg Stance Pose
  • Stand with your legs in a wide stance, around 4-5 feet apart, with your feet slightly pointing inwards.
  • With your arms on your hips, inhale as you left your chest upwards.
  • Exhale and fold forward from your hips, making sure to keep your spine straight.
  • If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees slightly to keep your spine straight. Once you are at 90 degree, release your hands from your hips and place them on the floor. Depending on flexibility, either your fingertips or palms will touch the floor. Use a block or bolster (or books, anything you have!) to rest your hands on if they don't reach the floor.
  • After 1 minute, place your hands on your hips and slowly lift your torso, again ensuring your spine is kept straight throughout.

2) Spinal twist pose

Spine Twist
  • Come to a comfortable cross-legged seating position on the floor. If this is uncomfortable, use a pillow or fold up some blankets to sit on to raise your hips off the floor a little.
  • Sitting with your spine straight, inhale as you lift your chest, and exhale as you place your right hand on your outer left knee.
  • Place your left hand on the floor behind you, and gaze backwards as you twist your spine gently.
  • Hold for 1 minute: with each inhalation, lengthen your spine, and with each exhalation, twist deeper.
  • Repeat on the other side.

3) Bridge pose

Bridge Pose
  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Inhale and lift your pelvis as high as is comfortable to hold for 1 minute.
  • Bend your arms and place above your head on the floor. Place a block/blanket/bolster/cushion under your sacrum.

4) Legs up the wall pose

Legs Up The Wall Pose
  • Sit close to a wall, lie back onto the floor and scoot your bum closer to the wall so that it is touching, and lift your legs up the wall.
  • If your hamstrings are tight, move slightly further away from the wall and bend your knees slightly.
  • Place your arms out to the side, and ensure your entire back is on the floor (engage your pelvic floor muscles to avoid an arch in your back).
  • This pose is fantastic for relieving tension in the legs, especially for those who are on their feet most of the day.

5) Corpse pose

Corpse Pose
  • For this final pose, we're going to hold it for 4 minutes.
  • Lie back, letting your arms and legs completely relax. Although this pose looks easy, it is actually very difficult to do it correctly, which is to not move at all whilst in it. Apart from a slight rise and fall in your belly from your breathing, your body should be completely still.
  • Calm your mind, and again only focus on your breath. If you catch your mind wandering, bring your attention back to the breath. This will be very hard to do at first, but over time will become easier. When fully relaxed, you may even fall asleep in this pose!
  • To come out of the pose, start by gently moving your fingers and toes. Then bend your knees and roll gently over to your left side (this is important - do not roll to the right as this will activate your brain again). place your palm on the floor and slowly lift your torso up.

Try doing these 5 poses as the last thing you do before you go to bed each night for 1 week, and you will be on your way to improving your quality of sleep.

Written by Carina Pullen - a mother, triathlete, beach loving yogi. Her love and passion for teaching & practicing yoga is contagious and I'm so excited that she is going to share a 6 week yoga series with you!

This HEALTHY YOU yoga series will target not only the whole body, but will take you through poses that boost your health and wellbeing in ALL areas - physical, mental and emotional.

*if you have any questions about this yoga series then feel free to contact Carina.

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