9 Yoga Poses to Help You Catch Some Zzz's
The following is a guest post from internationally known yoga specialist, Claire Grieve.
Tossing and turning? Are endless thoughts and on-going to-do lists preventing you from catching some Z’s? You are not alone, and you are not doomed to constant insomnia. Yoga is a remedy to many things, including insomnia and restless nights.
Stress is the common culprit to blocking our nervous systems from relaxing enough to ease into a restful night. By incorporating a few basic yoga poses into your lifestyle, you can coax your body into gracefully easing into sleep.
The meditative benefits of yoga will help quiet the constant monkey mind and soothe your entire system enough to train your body to sleep more easily. Yoga triggers our connection with our breath, which gives us direct control into regulation of the nervous system, cultivating the relaxation response we need. Next time counting sheep fails you head to the mat to pave the path to beauty rest.
1. Wide Leg Forward Fold
Step your feet wide apart and align you heels and toes parallel to your mat. Engage your core, interlace your hands and fold forward from the hips, extending the arms straight over your head. Keep your legs straight and engage your quads. This is a great stretch for the hamstrings and lower back and creates more oxygen flow to the brain.
2. Downward Dog
Come to all fours. Place your palms flat on the ground under your shoulders, knees below the hips. Tuck your toes under, lift your knees away from the floor and press your heels towards the ground as you draw the sit bones toward the ceiling. Firm your outer arms and press the hands firmly into the ground.
3. Pigeon Pose
A solid stress reliever, pigeon pose is the premier hip opener. Come to all fours and bring your left knee to your corresponding wrist. Inch your left foot forward until it’s just in front of your right hip. Extend your right leg behind you and work on squaring both hips to the floor. Walk your hands forward to deepen the stretch and then rest your forearms and forehead on the ground. Breathe into this hip opener and then repeat on the other side to balance your system. Hold the posture anywhere from 2-5 minutes.
4. Child’s Pose
One of my favorite, stress reducing and relaxing poses. Child’s pose is practiced for any moment in class when you need a “rest.” Sit on the floor with your knees wide and your toes touching. Lower your belly between your thighs and rest your forehead to the floor. Extend your arms, facing your palms down and lengthen from your hips through your fingertips. Breath gently into this pose for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
5. Reclining Hero Pose
Kneel on the floor and widen your feet enough so that you can gently begin to sit back towards the floor. Use your thumbs to roll the calf muscles out. Walk your hands behind to support your self as you lay back. Reach your arms overhead and hold onto opposite elbow. Now, once you are comfortable with this, you can deepen the pose and stretch.
Variation: Reclining Goddess - Put the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to drop down. Lay on your back, with your palms up and embrace the opening of the hips.
6. Seated Twist
Sit with your legs extended, bend your right knee and place it close to the right sitting bone. Elongate your spine, reach you right arm to the floor behind you and hook the left arm over the right knee. Keep your straight leg pressing firmly into the ground, foot flexed. On every inhale, lengthen the spine and on every exhale, twist deeper into the posture. Repeat as needed on both sides.
7. Forward Fold
Sit with your legs straight in front of you. Draw your right knee in and let it fall open towards the floor, pressing your foot into the inner left thigh. Line your torso up with your left knee and lengthen through the spine as you bend at the hips and fold forward. This pose helps to release the hamstrings and quiets the mind.
8. Shoulder Stand
Lie flat on your back and engage your core to lift your legs straight up to the ceiling. Press your arms into the floor, and place your hands just below your lower back to support yourself.
Variation: Legs Up the Wall pose - this one is exactly what it sounds like. Move as close as you can to the wall with your back on the floor. Lift your legs straight up and rest them against the wall. This is a great pose for your thyroid and your entire nervous system. You can hold this for up to ten minutes for optimal results.
9. Corpse Pose
This pose is the closest to a sleeping position and a favorite for meditation at the end of a yoga class. Lying on your back, with your feet hip width apart, relax your arms by your sides with the palms facing up. Let your shoulders soften away from your ears keeping your neck long. Breathe and let gravity do its work.
All of these poses will release tension in different areas of the body, which will help you to completely relax and unwind. A regular practice is recommended to develop healthy, solid rest. These poses done at nighttime can be a quick remedy to trigger the sleep you need.
Claire Grieve is a highly sought after international Yoga specialist, Stretch therapist, Health Coach and Wellness Writer. Claire’s mission is to inspire individuals to reach beyond the ordinary and step outside the comfort zone. She is determined to empower her students from all walks of life to push past their boundaries, reach their goals and live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Yoga serves as her medium to aid others in transcending those boundaries of the mind and body. Claire strongly believes yoga can be self-gratifying, enjoyable, and accessible to everyone.
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