Yoga for Sleep: How to Sleep Better with Yoga

In our modern age, there’s no shortage of things to do. Work and personal life blur together on our phones and devices. More and more often consumers are losing their balance between the two. Anxiety disorders, says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, are the most prominent of all mental health problems. Some 40 million Americans are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder every year. That’s more than the entire population of our neighbor to the north, Canada.
 
One of the prevalent symptoms of anxiety is the loss of sleep. Wakefulness, insomnia, lack of REM cycle: our devices and habits keep us awake long into the night. You shouldn’t shirk sleeplessness. Without a good night’s rest, other problems can arise, such as depression, diabetes, and heart disease. 
 
Exercise is an obvious place to start. If you’re too tired to worry, you’ll sleep better. But for those that don’t have the time or cannot find the right exercises to fit their lifestyle, why not try a bedtime yoga routine?
 
Holding these simple and relaxing yoga poses will re-sync you with your breathing cycle. And when that happens, you’ll notice parts of your body that hold tension. That tension is the root of your stress and releasing it will help you settle down and sleep better.
 
Remember, you don’t have to do all of the poses we offer here. Pick a few that seem suited to your body and bedroom space, flip to some meditative music playlists, light some incense, and relax. We recommend trying yoga for at least 30 minutes, any less and you won’t release those deep levels of muscle tension.
 

How to Prepare for Evening Yoga

First time practicing yoga? You don’t need much to begin. The poses we suggest below aren’t the handstand and neck bending routines you see the lithe bods practicing on the beach. This is easy stuff that’s more about breathing and paying attention to your body than breaking a sweat and twisting your back. If you feel completely wound up, add a CBD oil to this list, too.
 
Here’s what you’ll need for evening yoga poses for better sleep:
  • Cushy Mat or Thick Blanket
  • Relaxing Music
  • Comfy, Loose-Fitting Clothing
  • Glass of Water
  • 30 Minutes

5 Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

  1. Siddhasana

    We begin Balance CBD’s yoga routine for deeper sleep with the Siddhasana or Accomplished Pose. This is one of the most famous and iconic poses in all of yoga; Buddha often sits the Accomplished Pose in paintings and statues. Yoga masters believe the Siddhasana to be ancient, with most texts mentioning it around the 10th century. Yogic traditions state that long meditations sitting Siddhasana bring moments of nirvana. 

    In hatha yoga, sitting poses are known as hasanas. They’re meant to ground your body and steady your mind. So sit down on your mat in a normal cross-legged position. Now, bring one heel, whichever is most flexible, under your bottom so you’re sort of sitting on it. The sole of this foot should rest on your inner thigh. Adjust your upper body until you feel comfortable resting your weight on the leg.

    Now calmly place your other ankle over the first so that the ankle bones lock together. Your heels should be stacked on each other. Allow the toes of your top foot to fold into the soft area of your calf and inside of your knee. Straighten your back and place your hands palms-up on your knees. Some yoga instructors will ask you to press your index finger to your thumb and focus on the pressure created there. You can also hum, if you wish, and feel the sound reverberate through your body.

  2. Baddha Konasana

    Eventually, the heel your upper body rests upon will begin to go numb. Once it’s too uncomfortable to continue Siddhasana, transition to Baddha Konasana or Throne Pose. This position opens your hip muscles and relieves tension in your midsection, where a lot of your repressed stress sits, waiting to be released.

    First, stretch your legs out to allow the blood flow to return from the last position. Then breathe out and bring your heels together towards your center. Make sure your ankle bones touch the floor. Once your heels are touching, push your knees down as far as you can. Ideally, they’ll touch the floor, just like your ankles. But most of us don’t have pelvises flexible enough to pull it off. It’s important to only bring your knees down as far as you can without pushing. The Baddha Konasana is about relaxation and inner reflection, not pulled groins.

    While sitting in the Throne Pose, inhale and exhale deeply. Grip your hands around your feet or ankles, just tight enough to support your body and provide balance. Your pelvis should be in a neutral position, and try to straighten your spine. A hunched back will only breed more tension in your chest and shoulders.

  3. Balasana

    To release built-up stress in your lower back, neck, and thighs that keeps you from sleeping, let’s move into Balasana or Child’s Pose. As another restful yoga asana, you won’t straight yourself trying a complicated posture. The natural curve of the spine in this pose helps you to focus on your breathing.

    Fatigue and anxiety build up in your back upper thighs during the tense workdays. Sitting for too long, whether on your commute or the office, can be released before sleep with the Balasana. From either the Accomplished Pose or the Throne Pose, rise to your knees and shake out any tension in your arms and shoulders.

    Now, slowly place your hands on the floor and adjust your knees so they’re extending out on either side past your hips. Your toes should be touching the floor, the top of your feet vertical. Stretch your hands ahead of you as far as you can. At the same time, bring your hips down to your calves. As you make this single motion, exhale. In Child’s Pose, focus on your breathing and stretching out your shoulders, thighs, and lower back.

  4. Viparita Karani

    Viparita Karani may seem difficult, but it’s quite simple once you support yourself correctly. Its English term, legs-up-the-wall pose, states the idea quite clearly: to stretch your legs vertically as if resting on a wall. If you deem the exercise too difficult, you can practice on a wall.

    Lay back down on your matt and place an extra pillow or blanket under the small of your back. This will add support and lessen the amount of energy you need to maintain the pose. Now, raise your legs in the air and keep them as straight as you can. Place your hands palm-down by your side. Alternatively, you can spread your arms out in a wing shape to balance the weight of your suspended legs.

    Focusing on Viparita Karani requires mental effort, which removes you from the surmounting stresses of your day. The pose also reduces inflammation and improves blood flow to the legs. Think of it as reversing the energy flow in your lower body. Breathe in and out slowly, and hold the pose for at least five minutes.
  5. Shavasana

    It’s time to end your yoga for sleep session by laying down in the Savasana or Corpse Pose. Despite the macabre name, Corpse Pose is one of the most widely used finishing poses in yoga. It facilitates calmness and centers you, exactly what you need just before going to bed.

    Yogi believed that there was much to learn from the dead. This pose was supposed to help students of yoga Nidri find their balance between the realms of the living and the dead. It’s ideal for one last meditation before snuggling under your duvet and falling asleep.

    Simply rest flat on your back and spread your legs a little wider than your hips. Place your palms flat down on the matt and close your eyes. In Shavasana, breathe as deep as you can, and exhale slowly. Focus on your body and ignore the impulses to fret about your day tomorrow. Be in the moment, for it is in the moment that your body and mind find their balance.
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