Oh sleep, that ever-elusive healthy habit I am constantly chasing. I have found myself over the years stating that sleep is my wellness flaw. I exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, meditate, practice self-love, and many other habits that make up my wellness lifestyle. But no matter what I do, sleep can still be a struggle.
I have noticed it getting better however over the past couple years as I implement a bedtime routine that I mostly stick with. But I am always searching for more ways to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get better quality sleep.
This is how I came upon some yoga poses in my practice that are beneficial to my sleep.
Child’s pose-sitting on your legs with knees bent, butt and hips back on feet, bent forward with your upper chest on your thighs, head resting on mat, arms extended
This pose relaxes the spine and back while releasing tension in the chest. Often, we are not able to sleep due to stress or anxiety from the day or our to-do list for tomorrow. Putting yourself in child’s pose while taking some deep breaths will help relax your mind as you prepare for sleep.
Happy Baby-lay on your back with legs in the air, reach for feet and hold on to your toes while bending knees closer to your body (similar to how a baby might play with their feet)
This is a simple/soothing pose especially if you gently rock from side to side. It is great for stretching and relieving tension. Done after child’s pose right before bed can help put you into that relaxing frame of mind needed for sleep.
Restorative Bridge-This pose is different from regular bridge as you want to put a block or bolster under your hips to help hold them up. Lay on your back, place feet on the floor with knees bent, lift up your hips by pressing down into your feet, put the block or bolster under your low back/hips.
Restorative poses are great before bed and held for a longer period of time focusing on your breathing as you quiet the mind.
Reclined bound angle-lay on your back on your mat and keeping legs on the mat, bring the bottoms of your feet together with knees spread out, use blocks or pillows under the knees for support.
This pose encourages the body’s “rest and digest” response along with helping to reduce heart rate which leads to a peaceful night of sleep. It has also been known to provide relief for anxiety (which as we know keeps us all up well into the night)
Legs up the wall-put you butt up against a wall and swing your legs up so they are resting against the wall while you lay on your back, place your hands over your lower abdominal area.
This is one of my absolute favorite poses for helping with rest. It restores balance in the body, quiets the mind, and refreshes your heart and lungs. Even doing this for 20 minutes midday can feel like you just took a nap!
Savasana-lay down on your back on mat or ground
This one actually is a sleeping pose; some people have fallen asleep during this pose in a yoga class. This pose is designed to close the body and create a relaxation response. It has also been shown to reduce your blood pressure. So, get comfortable in this one, add a blanket or pillow and relax for about 10 minutes before bed.
Add some time into your bedtime routine to try one, two or all these poses and see how they affect your sleep. I’m not saying this will be an automatic cure but putting yourself in a relaxed state before climbing into bed must help in some way. Sweet dreams!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a writer, speaker, educator and coach my goal is to help guide people on their own journey to making a wellness lifestyle work for them.
My holistic approach teaches that it’s not just about the nutrition we put into our bodies or our fitness routine, we also need to take care of our own well-being as well.In order to truly live a healthier life we need to realize this is a shift and change in our whole lifestyle and we must cultivate this lifestyle every day.
I’m a certified health coach with a Master’s degree in Health Promotion with a concentration in Community Education.
This degree prepared me to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). All of this knowledge is helping me create health education programs for children and adults alike.
MORE FROM THE BLOG…
I was raised Baptist not Catholic, but in my exploration of spirituality and the rituals I would like to participate in, I chose to do Lent this year. Lent is part of the Christian faith and is a time of penitence where we are asked to fast and choose items to abstain from in a way to mark the 40-day period that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. Giving up certain pleasures is a way to foster simplicity and self-control, it is a reminder of our penance and creates a sort of suffering on our part.
As another year rolls around a new set of trends pop up in various industries. While I don’t consider myself the trendiest person, I do like to see where wellness is headed and if there is anything new I want to try or old habits I want to expand.
Here are a few trends that caught my eye for this year.
Self-care has somehow become synonymous with selfish. We feel instantly bad when we take time to ourselves or over explain so as not to offend those in our lives when we need some “me” time. When did this become the case? Why is self-care such a bad thing?
Over 20 years ago back in 1998 I laced up my sneakers to head out for a run. I had never actually gone for a run before, but I knew people loved it and it was a great form of cardio, so I decided to give it a try. I ran two miles, felt proud of myself, and then experienced excruciating pain in my knee to the point where I was limping for a few days. And thus ended my running career. I did try it again years later living here in NYC only to have the same experience.
Picture this: New York City, 2009
I arrived in Brooklyn, the place I would now call home. It was July, it was hot, I was lost, I was scared, I was alone. I felt unloved and maybe even a little dead inside.
Habits, how do we create them and how do we stick with them? That is a BIG question!
We are all habitual people but why does it seem so hard to create and stick with new healthy habits? Creating habits requires a shift in our mindset to one of belief that we can stick with this and will be successful. The shift focuses on who we are becoming in the process not the habits themselves. We need to become so emotionally invested in sticking with the habit that nothing can shake us.