Yoga is known for a variety of health benefits from preparing for meditation to alleviating pain and building strength and flexibility. It can be daunting to start a Yoga practice but once you get beyond the stretching and strengthening of your muscles, you start to appreciate it as a whole-body experience. That’s why we thought it would be helpful to share our favourite Yoga positions for sleep that can help you to relax and enjoy a restful night.
From tabletop position, sink your hips back to your heels and settle your chest between your thighs. Bring your big toes to touch one another and take your knees wide enough so that your inner thighs are gently hugging your outer ribs, and allow yourself to settle comfortably and breathe deeply. With your forehead resting on the mat or on a folded blanket, walk your fingertips out in front of you to get a gentle stretch through your arms. You can also roll your forehead from side to side on the ground to give yourself a mini face massage.
ARDHA UTTANASANA OR WALL DOG
This variation of a forward fold is a great way to get your entire body ready for rest and relaxation. Stand about a foot away from a wall with your feet hip-width apart and bend over, pressing your hands against the wall with your palms at the height of your hips. Step back until your back is straight and your torso and arms are parallel to the floor. Press down into your feet and lengthen all of your limbs.
WIDE-LEGGED STANDING FORWARD BEND
Step your feet so that they’re about 4 to 5 feet apart with your toes angled slightly inward. As you exhale, slowly fold forward from your hips, spreading your arms wide and reaching your fingertips onto the mat with your elbows bent if necessary. If you prefer a more active pose, you can walk your hands back through the gap in your legs. If you prefer a more restful pose, rest your head on a block or on a chair to help release tension. After 10 to 15 breaths, press down through your feet, inhale, and slowly rise to standing.
VIPAREETA KARANI (LEGS UP THE WALL)
This is a gentle inversion, relieving your lower body and providing a calming effect on your central nervous system. It’s also a lovely way to stretch out the hamstrings, which are often tight from standing or sitting all day. Lie on your back, lifting and extending your hips and sit bones a little to make sure that your back is nice and long. Bring your knees up to your chest, then extend your legs, so that they’re at a 90-degree angle to your body. Bring your arms out to the sides, close down your eyes and relax, breathing deeply for 10-15 minutes.
As you then get into bed, allow yourself to become really present. Lie down with your legs slightly apart and stretched out in front of you; arms long by your sides with palms up. Close your eyes and bring focus to your breath. Then allow yourself to drift off to sleep.