The fact that we often treat yoga as an exercise makes us myopic to the many other uses the ancient discipline has, one of which is the ability to help bring about good sleep. To understand how yoga helps us sleep better, we first need to understand that yoga is a collective term for a wide range of exercises, all of which serve different purposes.
While some of these exercises boost blood circulation, others promote muscle growth, while there are still others which help the body relax and de-stress; our concern in this article is with the last part, since a relaxed body and a mind devoid of stress are crucial elements for a restful sleep, something that even modern medicine concurs with. On that note, let’s take a look at the five best relaxing yoga poses before sleep.
The Child’s Pose
The child’s pose, also known as balasana, is a good way to release muscular tension and stress. As part of this pose, you will need to fold your legs from the knee such that your feet are under your hips with your knees pointing forward. You must then bend your torso forward with outstretched arms until your forehead touches the ground. For the position to be most effective, you should try to ensure that your forehead, palms, knees and toes are completely touching the ground and your hips are firmly placed on your heels (not raised).
Supine Spinal Twists
Spinal twists of both kinds help the spine stretch and open up, which induces a sense of relaxation. As part of the supine spinal twist, also known as Supta Matsyendrasana, you need to lie flat on your back with the arms stretched beside you. Then, fold your legs from the knees and bring your knees as close as possible to your chest. Once this is done, you need to slowly move your knees from one side to another using your waist as a lever.
Seated Spinal Twists
The seated spinal position, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, works much the same; just that you need to be sitting with your knees to the chest and turn your upper body with the left elbow going completely across the right knee and vice-versa. Basically, in the supine position your spine is stretched with help from your lower body, while in the seated position it is accomplished with the help of the upper body.
Legs Against the Wall
The legs against the wall position, or Viparita Karani, entails lying flat on your back and raising your legs such that they rest against the wall. Try not bending your knees while in this position and try maintaining as little gap between your hips and the wall as possible. Stay in this position for a couple of minutes (some even recommend five minutes) and breathe deeply with your eyes closed for maximum relaxation.
The Corpse Position
The corpse position, which literally translates to shavasana, is perhaps the most relaxed position known in yoga and the best position to fall asleep in (if you manage to). It entails lying flat on your back with your arms stretched beside you in a relaxed manner (palms must face upwards). Make sure that your knees aren’t bent and toes point upwards. Now breathe deeply relax; if you’re lucky, sleep should follow in moments.
Shishir Rao is a web writer who writes on a variety of topics ranging from health to technology. He uses the web as his preferred tool of information dissemination owing to its reach and easy to confirm credibility.