Boost relaxation and beat insomnia with these sleep-enhancing (and beginner-friendly) yoga poses.
It’s common knowledge that sleep is an essential part of one’s overall health and well-being. Sleep regulates hormone levels, strengthens the immune system, and stimulates muscle repair, just to name a handful of its vital functions.
Inadequate sleep can contribute to numerous problems like weight gain, brain fog and poor concentration. Over time, the lack of shut-eye can increase your risk of developing serious conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Both quantity and quality are important when it comes to sleep.
The average adult should get seven to eight hours of slumber every night. A recent survey by market research agency YouGov found that four out of 10 Singaporeans get under seven hours of sleep daily, so there is room for improvement.
When it comes to assessing quality, indicators include falling asleep in 30 minutes or less and waking up no more than once throughout the night, based on research published in the journal Sleep Health.
To get better shut-eye, there’s a lot that we can do. Before you hit the sack, avoid big meals, turn off your phone, laptop and other devices that emit blue light, and watch your consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
Doing restorative yoga can help too, especially if you have insomnia. Stay in each pose explained below for several minutes with eyes closed, focusing on your breath. These poses will relax your mind and body so that you can sleep better tonight.
(Also read: Easy Ways to Do Yoga in Bed)
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Sit on your mat. Straighten your legs out in front of you, toes pointing up towards the ceiling. Place hands next to hips, and press down on finger tips to lengthen your spine. Fold forward and place your hands on your shins, ankles or feet (depending on your flexibility). Aim to bring your belly to your thighs rather than your forehead to your knees.
Tip: If you have tight hamstrings, loop a yoga strap around your feet and hold on to the strap with both hands to help you fold forward.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Kneel on your mat. Bring your big toes to touch and sit on your heels. Spread your knees out wider than your hips. Fold forward and walk your hands forward till your forehead and nose touch the mat. Keep the weight of the hips on your heels.
Tip: Place a yoga block under your forehead if your hips lift off your heels as you bring your forehead down onto the mat.
(Also read: 9 Hip Opening Yoga Poses You Should Be Doing)
Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Lay on your back and bring your legs up onto the wall. Shift your weight from side to side and scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible. Let your arms rest by your side, palms facing up. Or, place your hands over your belly, palms facing down.
Tip: Place a bolster under your lower back to make this pose more comfortable.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Lay on your back. Bend your knees, take them out wide and grab hold of the outer edges of your feet. Using your hands, draw your knees towards your armpits. Keep your ankles directly over your knees, and keep your head on the mat.
Tip: If your hips are tight, grab hold of your ankles or shins instead of your feet.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lie down, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Your knees will drop to the sides. Draw your feet in towards your pelvis. Like the Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose, let your arms rest by your side, palms facing up. Or, place your hands over your belly, palms facing down.
Tip: If you have tight hips, place a yoga block under each knee to make this pose more comfortable.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lay down on your back, straighten your legs and take your feet mat-width apart. Your feet will turn out to the sides. Let your arms rest by your side, palms facing up. Relax your neck, face and jaw.
Tip: Place a bolster under your knees to make this pose more comfortable or if you have problems in your lower back.
Zarelda Marie Goh is a certified alignment-based hatha yoga teacher based in Perth, Australia.
(Also read: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Savasana In Your Yoga Session)