Up until a few weeks ago, I was someone who had zero problems falling and staying asleep. My head would hit the pillow and I’d be O-U-T until my alarm went off in the morning. But then the Coronavirus Pandemic rocked my world. Everything shut down, the stock market tanked, toilet paper became a hot commodity, and nothing was certain anymore. I would find myself mentally exhausted at the end of the day, fall asleep for a few hours and then be wide awake with my mind going non-stop with what if’s and worry. Of course, it didn’t help that I’d reach for my phone at that time and plow through news story after news story wanting to know more but at the same time not wanting to know anymore.
I know I am not alone with this new problem. I’m not trying to stress you out but now is not the time to skimp on sleep. Sleep is one of the best things we can do for our immune system. When you are sleep deprived, your stress levels skyrocket. It’s a vicious cycle that the two feed off of.
Last week, while I was scrolling through my Instagram feed before bed (clearly, I don’t follow the no electronics before bed advice!), I found an Instagram Live guided meditation session from my yoga studio. The visual picture is what got me first – sunset on a lake, with a lantern on a dock. I switched on the volume and immediately heard the sound of the water lapping against the dock. A flash of happy memories and an instant calmness came over me.
As I listened to Bethany for those 11 minutes, I found myself in that in-between state of awake and sleep. I wasn’t thinking of anything but the present and what Bethany was talking me through. When it was over, I felt pure relaxation. And you know what the best part was? I had the best sleep that night. I didn’t wake up once and felt completely rested in the morning.
It’s now part of my nightly routine…after watching Tiger King of course.
If you are interested in meditation apps, HERE are some of my favorites.
Another way to combat insomnia is yoga. I usually do yoga in the morning or after a run. Pre-bedtime yoga has become my new fave.
Yoga is a natural stress fighter. It calms your breathing, lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, reduces tension in the body and clears the mind. Certain postures can ready your body for bed by calming and relaxing the mind and releasing tension.
I’ve started doing these 5 poses below and guided meditation in the evening as part of my wind-down routine. Ready to begin? Hold each pose gently for 10-15 breaths or how ever long feels right for you. Feel free to do these poses anywhere. Even in bed…although a seated forward fold might be a better option than standing.
5 Yoga Poses for Better Sleep
Child’s Pose – The perfect pose for resting and relaxing as you rest your forehead on the ground.
To do this pose: Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs. Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you.
Standing Forward Fold – This pose is great for relieving headaches but also relieving tension in the shoulders and lower back.
To do this pose: Standing tall, fold forward with a straight back. Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of the head toward the floor to create a long spine, straightening your legs as much as possible or keep a bend in your knees to rest your torso on your thighs. Place your hands on the ground or grasp opposite elbows for a Rag Doll position.
Seated Twist – Twists are great for twisting out the belly. The torso holds a lot of stress for most people.
To do this pose: Sit tall on a blanket and cross your ankles. Inhale and lift your spine, and exhale as you take your left hand to your outer right knee. Place your right hand to the floor behind you for support. Inhale and lengthen; exhale and twist deeper. Switch sides and repeat the sequence.
Legs Up the Wall – Stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes to allow the blood to rush back to the heart rather than pool in your lower extremities.
To do this pose: Sit close to a wall, lie back onto the ground, then scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible and send your legs up. Rest with your arms by your sides.
Corpse Pose – What better way to ready yourself for sleep than lying on your back, letting the ground support you. Focus on slowing your breathing and clearing your mind.
To do this pose: Lie back, letting your legs and arms relax. Bring your attention to your breath.
*No pics for the last two poses because they are pretty much exactly what the name says. 😉
Are you having trouble with sleep?
What do you do for a better nights sleep?
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