October 13, 2010

Yoga Tools for Sleeping Well

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
–          Pregnancy

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


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Lindsey Lewis  |  Contribution: 3,780