No matter how calm and “yogic” we are during the day, insomnia can be your night’s worst enemy. Nearly a quarter of working Americans suffer from insomnia and daytime fatigue as a consequence. If you suffer from insomnia, you’re familiar with the stressful feeling of your mind racing uncontrollably and the anxiety of watching the hours pass by without being able to rest.
Next time you’re staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, try some of these therapeutic yoga postures to soothe your nervous system and quiet your mind. All these postures can be done on your bed (no need to step on the mat), so you can fall asleep naturally and enjoy a much needed repairing rest.
While you’re in one of these postures, close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. With every inhalation, fill up your belly like a balloon and let it deflate slowly when you exhale. This will help your nervous system calm down and switch from sympathetic mode (fight or flight) to parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). Deep breaths will help you ease tension and soothe your mind and body into a deep sleep. Make sure you take at least 10 deep breaths in each posture.
“Here are my top 5 poses to battle insomnia”
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s Pose helps reduce stress and fatigue while stretching the hips, thighs and ankles. It softly relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while gently and passively stretching the muscles of the back. I recommend the version with widely separated knees and big toes touching, in order to gently open up the pelvis and release tension.
Child’s Pose will help you calm down and soothe the brain, making it a therapeutic posture for relieving stress. As you place your forehead on your bed, supporting the head and elongating your torso, you’ll notice blood and oxygen flowing to your head, calming and slowing everything down. This stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands in the forehead, allowing for the greater production of melatonin and serotonin. These feel-good hormones help us to feel relaxed and promote a higher sleep quality.
2. Supine Pigeon Pose (Supta Kapotasana)
Pigeon pose is known as the “king posture” for hip-openers. Supine Pigeon Pose is a variation of pigeon pose where your spine is flat on the floor (or your bed).
Supine Pigeon pose will help you open your hips, release tension, reduce stress and cool down at the end of a long day. Opening the hips in this recline position is a great way to encourage a soft and supple low back and reverse the tightness that your body builds up throughout the day.
3. Supine Twisting Pose (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Twists are known for their ability to rinse the organs, open up joints and have balancing and toning powers, so they can help cleanse the body from head to toe.
Reclining Twist offers an opportunity to feel the power of wringing out the body from its core. Supine Twisting Pose helps release lots of tension across shoulders, chest and back… as feels so good from the inside out.
4. Legs-up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
If you are stressed, tired, or jet-lagged, this pose is especially refreshing. It is my favorite restorative pose as it helps me relax in a very short time, as well as reverse headaches and lower-back pain.
There’s a host of benefits to inverting the actions in your body, as you give your blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head. This helps rebalance your body and refresh your legs after you have been standing or sitting for a long time.
Legs–up-the-wall pose allows you to switch from a giving to a receiving mode, both physically and metaphorically.
5. Savasana (Corpse pose)
In Savasana, sensory stimulation and external distractions are minimized to help the body completely relax. While it is a fully conscious pose, feel free to fall asleep at any point during the relaxation.=
As you lie down on your back and relax your body and mind, I recommend you to follow these simple steps:
- Start by placing your hands on your belly and practice deep belly breathing through your nose, allowing at least 5 counts per inhalation and 5 counts per exhalation. Take at least 10 deep breaths like this.
- Please your hands by your sides, with your palms facing up. Mentally scan your whole body and ask every single body part to relax, from your toes to the top of your head.
- Once you’ve scanned your whole body, occupy your mind with a simple mantra: inhale “I am” exhale “relaxed”. Allow your mind to focus on the breath and mantra without expectations.
This posture brings a deep, meditative state of rest. With practice, Savasana will become your best tool to relax your whole body and mind, release stress, fatigue, depression and tension. From Savasana, feel free to drift into a pleasant, deep and restorative sleep.
If you have questions or comments, find me at @soniaribascoach and we’ll chat.
Yours in relaxation,