Yoga helps you unwind, which promotes restful sleep. According to research, regular pre-bed yoga might help you establish the correct mood and get your body ready for sleep. E.g., Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose Sit with your left side against a wall, move gently to your right, and pull your legs up to rest on the wall, maintaining your back on the floor and your hip bones near the wall for about three minutes.
For over 2000 years, yogis have realized that restful sleep is our body’s chance to detox, fight diseases, and get youthful energy. Yoga and mindfulness lead toward a yogic lifestyle that improves sleep, and circulation, while decreasing stress leading to a healthier life.
Breathing exercises before sleep: Become aware of natural and spontaneous breath that moves in and out of the body effortlessly. Observe the breath as it comes in and out of your nostrils. Notice the coolness as you inhale. Follow this feeling into your nose, sinuses, the back of the throat, and lungs. Feel the warmth on your upper lip as you breathe out. Take a slow inhalation, followed by a long, slow exhalation. Make your exhale even slower and notice the slight pause after the exhale. Slow inhale, even slower exhale, and pause. Feel the urge to breathe inside of you. Slowly inhale with a more prolonged, slow exhale.
Observe the pause where the body is neither breathing in nor out. Then, release control over the inhale or exhale and return to natural, easy breathing. Avoid anxiety, worry, or stress in your mind and body. Instead, allow the feeling of calmness to envelop your entire mind, body, and emotions. Be aware, relaxed, and calm. Without judging or manipulating the breath in any way, breathe in and know your breath in its natural form. As you breathe the breath out, know that this breath is like this. When the next round of thoughts arises—maybe there is boredom or agitation—notice where they pull your attention. It’s okay; just continue this dance of noticing where the mind wanders and feel into the body’s response to this thought: Is there a tightening in the shoulders, energy moving through the legs, sweating in the palms of the hands? Is the breath short and rigid?
Bring yourself to the present moment. Right now, feel the gravity grounding the body as it stands or rests on the earth – breaths in and out. Allow this connection to the stillness of the body or movement of the breath to be the anchor that brings you back to your practice when the mind begins to wander. Then, as you explore this practice, see if you can find the body coming closer to its center, so you are not living on the edges. Instead, find softness and the capacity to stay. Close your mouth and continue to breathe through your nose.
Short breath-hold periods breathing technique with 4, 7, and 8 counts popularized by Andrew Weil. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds, making a “whoosh” sound.
- Anulom Vilom
- Box breathing
Yoga Asanas for Better Sleep Yoga is an accepted form of physical activity because of its gentle, low-impact exercises, especially among older people. It complements other physical activity recommendations for improving sleep. Yoga and exercise during the day help strengthen the circadian rhythm, promote daytime alertness, and help sleep at bedtime. However, avoid exercise right before bedtime. Intense physical activity can raise the body temperature, disrupting sleep. Instead, complete the workout at least three hours before bedtime, giving sufficient time to relax before bed.
Numerous studies show that yoga postures and meditation improve sleep and mental and physical health. Along with controlled breathing exercises, yoga promotes a flexible body, and a calm mind that requires balance, and concentration, encouraging focus on the present moment. These exercises elicit the relaxation response, calming hormones, and physiological reactions that quiet the nervous system. They also reduce stress levels, decrease anxiety and relieve body-mind tension.
“Yoga is not about how good you ‘look’ in a pose but how good you ‘feel’ in the pose.”
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana, Camel pose)
- Plow Pose (Halasana)
- Child Pose (Shishuasana)
- Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)
- Reclining Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Ardhamatsyendrasana (Half spinal twist pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
- Shimha Garjana (Lion Pose).