Yoga for sleep

May 13, 2015
Abby Lentz

Today I got my daily email from Yoga Journal. It's a great resource and reminder about what's going on with yoga. The topic was yoga for sleep, something that I struggle with. I have tinnitus, constant ringing in the ears, which gets even louder when I'm tired, making going to sleep difficult. I use a masking technique which often has me falling asleep to audio books on a timer. So I was very interested in seeing what was recommended.

What I found was Yoganidrasana,  where you start on your back, placing both legs behind your head, hands clasped to the small of the back. For me just trying to get into that pose would be exhausting enough to make sleep easier I'm sure!

Unable to do this pose, I went to the HeavyWeight Yoga technique of Pose-Pairing — taking the benefits of a pose I'm unable to do and matching them to poses that I can do, or at least have a hope of doing anyway.

Wanting to work from the bed top I decided on these poses for better sleep:

Back stretch with a forward fold. Sitting on the side of the bed with feet apart creating a seated Belly Well, lift up from the hips and roll down slowly, separating each vertebrae. Drop your head between your legs and stretch it out, straight down or gently move side to side. Keep your belly soft and your breath small creating no resistance to your stretch. Release by rolling up slowly, walking your hands up the legs to support your body lift.

For a bonus, while still sitting on the edge of the bed add a gentle seated twist, which isn't a part of Yoganidrasana, but always good to do. Feet comfortable apart and grounded, take one hand to opposite knee/leg using it as a counter point to help deepen your twist. On an exhale twist slowly in the direction of the leg you're touching with your eyes open wide looking back behind you. Hold for several breaths releasing slowly on an inhale. Do other side.

On the bedtop open your hips with Half Frog. Lying belly side down, slide one knee up hip high. Align your ankle on that leg so it's directly below that knee at a right angle. Flex the foot and press the hip on that side into the bedtop, getting a gentle stretch on the front body where your leg attaches to your torso. Hold for 5 or more breaths and do the other side.

If being on your stomach isn't an option. Lie on your back bringing feet together or towards each other. Let your knees fall to the outside edges. You can place pillows under your legs if there's any knee discomfort. Since there's no press, hold here longer giving gravity more time to do the work. Remove the leg pillows as your hips open.

When doing all of these yoga poses stop thinking about your day. Take a mental break from all that's done and all that's yet to do tomorrow. Instead, focus your mind on what your body is doing and feeling. Once set in your pose, during the hold bring your thoughts to a more meditative state. Rest you mind as well as stretching your body.

Remember, whenever you see an  pose you're unable to do, look for purpose of the pose and then use Pose Pairing — a way to get the benefits of yoga even when a doing a pose isn't possible.




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