If you suffer from sleep deprivation, you are not alone. After the common cold, the second most frequent reason people visit their local GP is for insomnia.
By Lizzie Eggerton
Insomnia and stress can quickly take hold, becoming a viscous circle. Often our minds are still whirring with the day’s events, worries and stresses right up to bedtime. It can be difficult to get off this merry-go-round thought pattern so falling to sleep can become troublesome.
The good news is that yoga can assist with gaining a good nights sleep. How? Yoga is primarily about calming and quietening the mind, and as this happens, tension in your body will begin to ‘melt’ away. Here are some yoga poses to try for improved sleep:
Reclined Goddess Pose
Lie on your back as shown. Bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor. Open your knees out to either side, bringing the soles of your feet together, creating a diamond shape with your legs. Place your hands onto your belly and feel your breath move in and out. As you breathe in, your tummy lifts and as you breathe out your tummy deflates. This is full yogic breathing – it helps to calm the body and mind. You can picture it as your lungs inflate on inhalation and deflate as you exhale – imagine a balloon filling, then emptying of air. Stay in this pose for several minutes, allowing gravity to deepen your stretch.
Seated Cat Pose
Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position and interlace your fingers behind your head. Inhale and open your elbows wide, letting your chest expand and raise the chin slightly.
As you exhale, round your back so that your chin drops to your chest, while you bring the elbows towards one another, gently drawing your belly in. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Sitting or standing, tilt your head to the right so that your right ear comes closer towards your right shoulder, while you extend your left arm downwards, increasing the stretch. Breathe towards the right shoulder, then perform the stretch on the other side and repeat 5 to 10 times, breathing in and out. Move slowly and with care, and feel free to explore the direction of your gaze – as you turn your head, you will feel the stretch in a number of muscles in your neck.
Legs Up The Wall
Start with your side flush against the wall, then windmill your legs up as you lie down, until your legs are resting against the wall. Rest your arms by your sides or over head, whichever feels comfortable. Stay for 5 minutes, do nothing, just relax into the pose.
Kneeling down, bow your body forwards as shown. Arms can extend in front of you or bring them alongside your body. Soften the shoulder muscles, relax your back, belly and hips, let it all go. Stay for at least a minute if you can.
Remember, always listen to your body and work through a pain-free range of movement. Please check with your GP if you have any health issues, before you begin to practise any of the yoga poses.
Lizzie Yoga Hereford
Hatha Yoga Classes, Workshops, Retreats and One-to-One Tuition for all levels in Hereford
Tel: 07870 345 216 – Lizzie Eggerton (BSYA)
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.