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Let Yoga Be Thy Salvation: 16 Yoga Postures for a Better Sleep

Posted Sep 10 2012 5:11pm

At night, when I’m lying in bed, tired and still, my body becomes a playground for my misfiring nerves. Starting at the base of my spine and radiating down both legs, I experience unsettling electrical sensations that make me want to kick and stretch and move around and think about that restless leg commercial I used to see at 3 a.m. back in my pre-mama days.

And ever since I had a tonic spasm on the entire left side of my body in 2003, being tired also means subtle but consistent jolts of electricity running down my left side, from neck to toes. Neither of these fun feelings is very conducive to sleep.

I used to not know what to do about this. Sometimes I just dreaded getting in bed. But about five months ago I started practicing yoga before I went to sleep and this changed everything. My symptoms vanish after I practice! Yoga was my salvation, and maybe it could be yours too.

I know that everyone is at different levels in terms of their physical ability, so please know that these suggestions are what work for me, in the order I like to do them, and you should adapt them to whatever is doable for you. Maybe you can only do a few of these postures. Maybe you can do them all. Maybe some days you feel strong and other days you feel you can’t handle the more challenging poses. Whatever your circumstances, even just a little bit of stretching can make a big difference in how you feel.

Practicing these specific postures before bed quite literally calms my nerves, makes me feel healthy and productive, and allows me to drift into sleep with ease. So if you are experiencing discomfort before bed too, try this out and see if it helps. Or, go to YouTube and find a full-length yoga class that you can follow along with.

The links below all go to the individual poses at Yoga Journal . There, you can find a step-by-step guide on how to perform each posture, as well as the posture’s benefits, beginner’s tips, and more. This entire set of postures takes me about 20-25 minutes, depending on how I feel. Sometimes I will repeat certain poses or stay in them longer if my body feels it wants to stretch there. The beauty of yoga at home is that you don’t need to go at the pace of the class, you can go at your own speed, take your time with each posture, repeat postures you like, and get creative. Find what works for you.

1. Downward-Facing Dog

The pleasure of letting your head give in to gravity and just hang there cannot be underestimated. And your brain will appreciate all that blood rushing to it!






2. Upward-Facing Dog

I move directly from downward dog to upward-facing dog. This is a good posture to begin warming up your back for the backbends we’ll be doing later.






3. Big Toe Pose

Your hamstrings will love you for this posture. Either that or they’ll hate you, but only until they realize you know what’s best for them.






4. Eagle Pose

This is a tough one, but it’ll definitely let you know where you are each day with your balance, coordination, and strength! Go easy on yourself, your body is in a different mood every day.






5. Tree Pose

If you have balance issues, this will be challenging, but it will help to improve your balance over time. I like to move my hands into prayer pose here too and take a moment to be grateful that I’m alive and able to do this posture. Like a tree, there’s a real dignity in this posture that I enjoy tremendously.






6. Upward Salute

I like to move from upward salute into a backbend by tracing my arms back and bending as far back as I can. If you do this, make sure to do a forward bend like Big Toe pose afterward to release your lower back.






7. Camel Pose

Ah, camel. My favorite pose. This posture releases pent up tension and emotion in the heart center and can be very intense. Oftentimes when I do this posture and then move immediately into corpse pose to rest, I feel an enormous release not unlike post-orgasm bliss.






8. Corpse Pose

Rest, my friend. Integrate your work. Take a moment for yourself. Feel the way the postures are loosening your ligaments and stretching you out like silly putty.






9. Wheel Pose

A more challenging version of camel. This pose requires a lot of arm and leg strength and will also give you a nice release as it stretches your chest and lungs. Plus, it’s amazing for your spine and your butt!






10. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is the best. It’s a restorative posture and really will make you feel like a child. It’s the kind of posture that makes me say to myself, “Life is too hard. I want to stay here forever like this and let you take care of me mommy.”






11. Seated Forward Bend

A great forward bend to unwind the stretch of your backbend with the wheel pose. Also, yay hamstrings!






12. Wide-Legged Forward Bend

This posture will strengthen and stretch your inner and back legs and calm your brain. I think we could all use a calmer brain.






13. Supported Shoulderstand

This inversion is awesome for getting the blood circulating through your legs, especially if you have trouble walking. Plus, your thyroid will love it.






14. Plow Pose

This pose is just plain fun. And it stretches your shoulders and spine, as well as a slew of other benefits.






15. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Ah, the spine twist. This posture stimulates the spine, liver, and kidneys, as well as the digestive fire in your belly.






16. Lotus Pose

Lotus pose is great for your posture and is said to awaken kundalini, the serpent energy coiled at the base of your spine. Take a moment here to just be. Feel your self. Notice whatever bodily sensations or emotions enter your awareness. Thank yourself for taking the time to do your practice and to love your body today.




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