By: Derek Beres
Last year, a good friend of mine was having sleep troubles. As a music producer, he often headed to sleep when I was waking up. He was accustomed to this schedule, as he’d been doing it for many years. The problem was that on some nights he wanted to drift off before midnight and found it impossible. The result was that every few weeks he would crash and sleep for 16 hours straight. He wanted stability.
I prescribed him one of the most relaxing yoga postures imaginable: Viparita Karani. (See below.) Without much effort, he was quickly able to silence his mind and deepen his breath enough to drift off. The result? A solid and stable night of rest without the tossing and turning.
This also works with people who have trouble falling -- or staying -- asleep because of an inability to quiet the mind. As someone who suffers from occasional panic attacks, I am prone to midnight bouts of anxiety. Lying awake for an hour or two is not uncommon for me. Iyengar teacher Roger Cole warns that you should never lie in bed for more than 15 minutes without sleep. I agree that your association with your bed should be with restfulness, not the stress that you may not fall asleep.
So when this happens to me, I use one or more of the following deeply relaxing yoga poses. Try them out for at least 10 minutes before sleep and see if they help you drift to neverland more peacefully.
Yoga Pose for Sleep No. 1: Viparita Karani
Purpose: Calms your mind
Otherwise known as the “legs up the wall” pose, which is a shoulderstand variation, this is a great place to begin. (See it here.)
This pose should feel extremely comfortable. If not, try adjusting the blankets to take pressure off your lower back. Roger Cole warns not to fall asleep in this pose, which is actually easy to do. If you do, you may experience difficulty falling asleep when you come out of it. Yoga Journal also suggests that this pose helps with headaches, digestive problems and mild depression, all of which could compromise your sleep.
Yoga Pose for Sleep No. 2: Paschimottanasana
Purpose: Stretches and decompresses your spine
One of the most popular yoga postures, the Seated Forward Bend is completely relaxing. (See it here.) It lengthens the compressed vertebrae in your spine, and you will come out feeling refreshed and calm.
Many people assume that getting your hands wrapped around your feet is the point of this pose. That’s the wrong approach. Instead, think of your heart coming to your knees, and then allow your head to relax into your heart. You should not feel like you’re tugging yourself to get as low to the ground as possible.
Yoga Pose for Sleep No. 3: Supta Virasana
Purpose: Opens your hips and relaxes your lower body
Reclining Hero’s Pose can be a delicious hip-opener, if it relaxes you -- and it should, even if you need two yoga blocks to accomplish it. (See it here.)
Yoga Pose for Sleep No. 4: Savasana
Purpose: Brings you into a deep state of relaxation and comfort
Corpse Pose is instantly recognizable to anyone who has taken a yoga class (See it here.) While it appears to be the same as lying down, it is more of a conscious letting-go of your thoughts and body for a few minutes before continuing your day -- or, in this case, heading off to bed.
Savasana should be the most comfortable pose imaginable; cover yourself with a blanket if you are cold.
Got sleep problems? Talk about it below or tweet me @Completely_You
For more great health and lifestyle content, visit the parent site of my blog
is Completely You’s Getting Unstuck blogger. A journalist, yoga instructor and DJ/music producer, he has written for such publications as Departures and The Huffington Post. He teaches yoga at Equinox Fitness and Yogis Anonymous, and is one-half of the music production team EarthRise SoundSystem. For more info, visit DerekBeres.com.
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