Many people struggle to get a full night of restful sleep and after a long day, not being able to fall or stay asleep can be extremely frustrating. After all, a solid night of sleep is one of the key pillars of health and well-being. There are a lot of directions we can turn to assist us in a better night's rest. Yoga is a powerful tool to calm the mind and prime the body for a full night of sleep. Follow this yoga sequence before bed to get a better night of sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Meditation and three part breath
Begin in a comfortable seat. Allow your body to be heavy as you deepen your breath. Direct your full awareness to the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the nostrils. When you notice your mind has wandered, redirect the awareness back to the sensation of the breath, becoming fully present. From here, begin to cultivate a three part breath. Inhale into the lower diaphragm, feeling the belly fill fully. Then direct the inhale up into the chest, filling the heart space, then exhale to release all of the air. Continue this breath pattern and meditation for 5-10 minutes.
Child's pose (Balasana)
Separate your knees hips width distance apart on the mat. Sit back onto your heels as you extend the arms forward, relaxing the chest toward the floor. Allow your chest to be heavy and keep your palms and forehead planted on the mat. Feel the connection of your body on the earth and hold this posture for 10 breaths, allowing the body to soften deeper with every exhale.
Reclined bound angle pose (Salamba supta baddha konasana)
Come to lie down on your back. Bring the souls of your feet together and let your knees splay out wide. You can add support under the knees if the pressure is too much for your body. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly as you breathe here, stretching the inside of the hips. Hold for 20 breaths.
Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)
Come to a comfortable seat with your legs extended long out in front of you. Invite a gentle bend into the knees and with a straight spine, begin to fold forward over your legs. Stop folding when your spine begins to round. Reach for your feet or place your hands on the mat beside your legs and breathe here for up to 20 breaths.
Supine twist (Supta matsyendrasana)
Lie down on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Scoot your hips an inch or so to the right as you drop your knees over to the left at hip height. Extend the arms out at shoulder height and gaze over the right shoulder. Hold for about 10 breaths before switching sides.
Legs up the wall (Viparita karani)
Bring either up to a wall and lie down on your back as you extend your legs up the wall. Adjust your distance from the wall as needed and allow a slight bend in the knees. Hold and relax into the posture as you breathe deeply. Stay for up to a minute, bending the knees and rolling off to one side to come out when you are finished.
Lie down on your back and extend your arms and legs out wide. You can take savasana in your bed if you think you will fall asleep. Take up as much space as you need to be completely comfortable. Completely let go of any breath control or attempt to control your mind. Let your body be heavy and your mind completely relax. Stay in savasana for 5-7 minutes, slowly coming up to a seat when you are finished to make your way into bed for a restful night’s sleep.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.