Sleeping can be stressful.
How many of us have lain awake, aching to sleep, praying to sleep, practically giving ourselves a hernia trying to convince our body to “effing go to sleep already!”? 65% of all Americans have (National Sleep Foundation 2008 ), and, though Canada doesn’t seem to have an official sleep pollster, I bet it’s safe to say the numbers would be similar.
Until early adulthood, I had more pissed off, sleepless nights than serene ones. (Fellow anxiety sufferers, I feel your pain.) Then I got into yoga.
It wasn’t just the stress-busting nature of the asana (physical posture) classes that had me sawing logs instead of swearing; it was the mind-calming, system-soothing tools and techniques I learned to do when I woke up, mind racing, in the middle of the night. Below, I’ve shared a couple with you.
This routine takes less than 10 minutes. I invite you see if taking just 10 minutes to bring your entire system into a more relaxed state gains you hours of sleep.
Yoga Tools for Sleeping Well
I really recommend getting out of bed. Try the pranayama (breathing exercise) first, then the asana (posture).
Skull Shining/Kapala Bhati (5 minutes)
– Sit cross-legged on the floor, or just sit in a chair
– Lift the crown of your head to the sky; let your sit bones sink to the floor
– Through your nose, inhale deeply all the way up to your chest, exhale deeply all the way down to your belly, three times
– Inhale again all the way up to your chest, and begin rapidly pumping your belly right below your rib cage, exhaling through your nose on each contraction
– The inhales, if you can let your mind stay out of it, will take care of themselves, naturally drawing breath in, as you relax your belly after an exhale
-Take a break to breathe normally if you feel you need to
– At the end, take a deep breath in and slowly exhale
– Calms your breath and your mind
– Reduces mucous in the sinuses (Stuffed up? Have a tissue handy)
– Brings energy to the head region
– High blood pressure
– Lung or heart problems
– First few days of menstrual cycle
Lots of inversions are calming for our system, but at midnight, some are easier to handle than others. Standing forward fold is one of them.
Uttanasana/Standing forward fold (10 long, deep breaths)
– Stand with your feet lined up under your hip bones
– Fold your torso forward, hinging from your hips
– Let your arms and head be super heavy, dangling
– Don’t try to reach for your toes. Just hang out
– Take long, deep breaths here