By Devinder Kaur, Owner and Director of PranaShanti Yoga Centre   

Sleep is the time for the body and mind to rest, reset, detoxify, and rejuvenate. However, sometimes life interferes with our internal biological rhythms, which can result in too little sleep or not very good sleep. A balanced sleep cycle is important for our health and well-being on a number of levels. Good sleep improves our brain performance, mood, and health. Not getting enough quality sleep regularly raises the risk of many diseases and disorders and can affect our ability to concentrate, to think clearly and process memories.

Yoga is a gentle and restorative way to help wind down at the end of the day. These three yoga poses relieve tension and stress to help prepare for sleep. The more that you practice the poses, the more they can help in a good night’s sleep. 

Practice these poses before bedtime and stay in them about 3 to 5 minutes each.

1. Wide-Knee Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Kneel on the floor and bring your big toes together.
  • Separate your knees as wide as is comfortable for you so that your hips can relax.
  • Exhale and fold down over your thighs bringing your forehead towards the ground.
  • Bring your forehead to the ground, or slide a cushion underneath your head or rest your forehead on your forearms folded underneath your head.
  • Optionally, let your hands relax alongside your body or by your feet with the palms facing up.
  • If you want a more active pose, reach your arms and hands forward, palms down on the floor.
  • Roll your head to each side gently a few times to release tension in the brow and neck. Bring the head to stillness.
  • Take slow, steady breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • To come up, bring your hands closer to your knees and start to lift yourself back up over several deep breaths.

2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

  • Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart so that you feel stable and balanced. Inhale deeply.
  • Exhale and extend your torso forward to fold down over your legs to lengthen your spine.  You are now hanging upside down.
  • Bend the knees slightly.
  • Hold onto opposite elbows, let your hands rest on your shins, or let the hands touch the floor.
  • Try not to push or force yourself to touch the floor—the goal is to lengthen the spine and relax the neck and shoulders.
  • This forward bend release neck tension and gently stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips. Keep a soft bend in the knees to support your back.
  • If it is difficult for your hands to reach the floor or your back is uncomfortable, place yoga blocks or thick books under each hand to provide more support or continue to hold opposite elbows.
  • Breathe in and out through your nose slowly, smoothly and deeply.
  • Gently turn your head from side to side a few times like a “yes” and “no” movement to relax and loosen your neck muscles. Then bring the head to stillness.
  • Take slow, steady breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • To come up, bend your knees more generously and over several deep breaths slowly come up to standing to prevent feeling light-headed.

3. Legs up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

At the end of the day, especially if you have been standing or on your feet for many hours, your feet and ankles can get tired and swollen. This simple pose helps recirculates your blood flow.

  • Find an empty space on your wall and place your yoga mat or a folded blanket perpendicular to the wall.
  • Sit down on the yoga mat or blanket and bring your left or right side to the wall as close as possible, so your side body meets the wall.
  • Lie back onto mat or blanket, and gently place your legs up the wall.
  • Relax your arms by your sides.
  • Add a rolled up yoga mat, blanket or cushion underneath your tailbone to give your tailbone, hips and low back added support.
  • Take slow, steady breaths, in and out through your nose.
  • To come out, bend your knees and roll to your side. Remain here for a few breaths before using your arms to push yourself back up to a seated position.

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