We all know that a good night’s sleep is golden. Unfortunately, as the years pass, it seems to get even more difficult to achieve the ultimate eight hours. Kids, pets, work, medication and the stresses of modern life all combine to keep us awake in the small hours when we know we should be deep in slumber.
The amount of sleep you get affects how you feel during the day. Proper sleep increases stress resilience, optimism, memory, metabolism, and even our ability to problem solve, so if we want to be on our A-game, then we need to sort our sleep habits accordingly.
A helpful first step in improving your overall relationship with sleep is to cut off from the digital world at least an hour before bed. All smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs should be switched off to allow the mind to slow down and unwind from the screens and bright lights. A further step is to focus on relaxing your body and mind with the help of some gentle yoga poses that can be practised at home. Here, we have selected three poses, which focus on bringing calm and relaxation to the body to help you prepare for bedtime bliss.
Legs up the wall
This pose can be done either from your bed, or lying on the floor in your bedroom, and involves lying on your back with your legs raised above your hips and resting on the wall for support. Legs can be bent or straight, depending on your preference. A very simple pose, this is effective at relieving any tensions in the legs, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and bringing a sense of overall calm and tranquillity to the body and mind. Allow your body to completely let go, sinking into the wall without tension, and practice some simple counting breaths with your eyes closed for further relaxation.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
A favourite pose for many of our Go Yoga clients, Child’s pose helps to stretch out the hips, thighs and ankles, whilst naturally reducing stress and anxiety. It gently calms the muscles down your torso and gives your back muscles a gentle stretch. Begin on your hands and knees with your big toes touching and then spread your knees wide. Sit up straight, lengthening your spine straight and then bow forward, sinking your torso down between your thighs. Arms can be stretched forward over your head with palms resting on the ground, or by your side for a more relaxing version. Focus your attention on the nostrils and enjoy the sensation of breath flowing in and out, nice and smoothly.
Supported Reclining Twist
This can be the last pose you practice before you drift off to sleep as you are already going to be lying supine on your bed. Rest flat on your back, with both legs bent at 90-degrees. With your hips level and knees high, try sliding a pillow in between your thighs. Extend your arms out like a starfish at shoulder level and then drop both knees over to the right. Gently turn your head to the left, close your eyes, relax your face and sink the shoulders down heavily into your mattress. Focus on feeling the breath flow all the way up to your neck and into your collarbones. Stay here for as long as feels good and then switch the knees over to the left and the gently turn your head to the right.
Gently relax your arms by your sides, slowly release the knees down and prepare for a swift and gentle drift off to sleep.
Sweet dreams x