Life has a way of getting more and more complicated as you get older. People try to subdue the mental clutter with caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol which sends your system into overdrive. The combined effect of these stimulants and emotional stress usually results in sleeplessness or bad quality sleep. Doing certain yoga poses can help your body relax and create more balance so that you sleep well. Practicing yoga regularly can also help you reduce reliance on stimulants. Here are 6 yoga poses that can induce a good night’s sleep.
1. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
Sit on the edge of a firm blanket with your legs extended in front of you in Staff Pose (Dandasana).
Place your hands on the floor behind your body and lean your torso back slightly. Then open your legs as wide as it is comfortable.
Press your hands firmly into the floor and gently bring your buttocks forward along the floor, helping to widen the legs even further. Work toward opening your legs to a 90-degree angle (with the pelvis as the apex), or even wider.
Keep the tops of your kneecaps and your toes pointing straight up toward the ceiling. Flex your feet and strongly engage your thigh muscles, pressing your legs down toward the floor. Reach out through your heels.
With your spine long and straight, begin to walk your hands forward between your legs. Maintain the length of your front torso; do not let your back round. You might only walk your hands an inch or two forward, and that is fine.
Continue to increase your forward bend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, but do not push it too far. If your spine rounds or if you feel any pinching pain, ease up.
As you come deeper into the pose, reach your arms to the sides and clasp your big toes by making a loop with your thumbs and first two fingers. Bend your elbows out to the sides. Keep the front of your torso long. Gaze forward and place your chin on the mat.
Hold for up to three minutes. Gently walk your hands back toward your body, bringing your torso upright while keeping your spine long. Bend your knees and bring your legs back together
2. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Begin lying on your belly with your legs extended straight back behind you, the tops of your feet down, and your forehead resting down on your mat.
Find a slight internal rotation of your thighs by turning your big toes in toward one another, and keep pressing the tops of your feet down as you lift your kneecaps away from the ground.
Reach back and interlace your fingers, pressing your palms together to touch and drawing your shoulder blades together on your back.
On an inhale, peel your chest up off the ground and reach your hands back actively toward your feet.
With your chest lifted, begin to also lift your feet and legs up off the ground. Reach the inner lines of your legs toward the ceiling, keeping the big toes together or the feet no wider than hip distance apart.
Keep your chin parallel to the floor and your gaze neutral to maintain length along the back of the neck as you extend out through your feet and use your breath to help lift you higher.
Remain in the pose for 5 breaths, then on an exhale, gently release your legs down and relax your arms by your side, resting on your belly.
3. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose)
Begin the pose by sitting with your left side against the wall. Your lower back should rest against the bolster if you’re using one.
Gently turn your body to the left and bring your legs up onto the wall. If you are using a bolster, shift your lower back onto the bolster before bringing your legs up the wall. Use your hands for balance as you shift your weight.
Lower your back to the floor and lie down. Rest your shoulders and head on the floor. Shift your weight from side-to-side and scoot your buttocks close to the wall. Let your arms rest open at your sides, palms facing up.
Let the heads of your thigh bones release and relax, dropping toward the back of your pelvis. Close your eyes. Hold for 5-10 minutes, breathing with awareness.
To release, slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs down to the right side. Use your hands to help press yourself back up into a seated position.
4. Supta Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Sit with your legs outstretched in front of you, you may want to sit on a blanket or pillow to raise your hips, so you can sit with a straight back.
Pull in your feet and place the soles of the feet together, as close as possible to your pelvis, let the knees fall out to your sides.
Release your groins, the head of the thigh bones, and allow the knees to relax down as well, don’t push them.
Hold your big toes with the first two fingers and your thumb, or hold the outsides of your feet.
Keep your pelvis level, sit with a straight back.
Firm your shoulder blades into your upper back, to help open your heart. You can stay in this pose for 5-10 breaths. To come out you lift your knees and straighten your legs again.
5. Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)
Begin in the supine position with your knees bent and your feet kept flat on the ground. You can keep your head on a blanket or pillow to support your neck. While breathing out, bring your knees to your chest and let your hands wrap around them.
Let your arms extend out along the ground at the height of your shoulders with your palms facing the ground. Make your legs straight so that they come toward the ceiling. Be sure that your back is flat on the ground.
While breathing out bring your legs down to your left and allow your right hip to come off the ground. Allow the gravitational force to pull your legs all the way down. Your left leg should rest on the ground. The outer part of your right ankle should rest on top of your left ankle.
Try to bring your legs and torso to a 90-degree angle. If your legs are angled toward your left shoulder you can hold your left foot’s toe with the fingers of your right hand.
Let your head turn to the right and softly gaze at the fingertips of your right hand. Remain in this pose for around 10–25 breaths.
While breathing in, slowly get back to the center position and raise your feet to the ceiling. Then bend your knees and hold onto them towards your chest. While breathing out bring your heels to the ceiling again and repeat the steps on the other side.
Once you’re done with the pose, hold your knees to your chest for a few breaths and slowly breathe out while extending both legs along the ground.
6. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Rest your hands about six inches away from your body with your palms up.
Let your feet drop open. Close your eyes. You may want to cover your body with a blanket. Let your breath occur naturally. Allow your body to feel heavy on the ground.
Working from the soles of your feet up to the crown of your head, consciously release every body part, organ, and cell.
Relax your face. Let your eyes drop deep into their sockets. Invite peace and silence into your mind, body, and soul. Stay in Savasana for five minutes for every 30 minutes of your practice.