6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

This easy yoga sequence will quickly get your body and mind in the mood for bedtime. Zzzs in 10, 9, 8... 

From boosting your mood to helping you get stronger, there are a host of reasons to try yoga. But one of the most popular is its ability to de-stress. 

This gentle yoga sequence from yoga instructor Pippa Richardson ( www.pippayoga.com ) takes it that one step further by helping the mind to let go of the day and the body to prepare itself for a night of restful sleep.

“There are a wide variety of things that can affect our sleep, including lifestyle habits and physical conditions,” says Pippa.

“Yoga is proven to help reduce these psychological stressors, which, in turn, can have a positive effect on the way we sleep. 

"We can use specific poses and breath work to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system known as the ‘rest and digest’ mechanisms in the body.”

To make the most of this yoga sequence, make a habit of going through the poses every evening.

HOW TO DO IT: Perform each pose one after the other, taking as much time as needed. Repeat and remain in each pose for the time/reps recommended.

1. CONSTRUCTIVE REST

6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

Technique

* Lie on your back with knees bent, hip-width apart and feet on the floor directly underneath the knees. 

* Rest your arms alongside the body, palms facing up towards the ceiling.

* Become aware of your breath, watching your inhale and exhale.

* Stay here for around five to 10 minutes or as long as feels comfortable.

HOT TIP: This can be a helpful tool to ‘anchor’ you in your body

2. BRIDGE

6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

Technique

* Start in the same position as the constructive rest and begin to press your feet into the ground evenly.

* You may feel your tailbone begin to tuck under in response.

* Continue to press down through your feet until your pelvis and spine begin to peel away from the floor, hips moving towards the sky.

* When your hips have come as high as they want to, let the front body soften and begin to curl the spine all the way back down.

* Repeat this between three to five times.

SAFETY TIP: Perform the upwards and downwards movements slowly

3. SUPINE TWIST

6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

Technique

* Start in the same position as the constructive rest but take the arms out to shoulder height, then take the feet mat-width apart.

* Take your knees over to one side.

* Let your head turn either in the same direction as your knees or the opposite direction, whichever feels more comfortable.

* Stay for a few rounds of breath and then repeat on the other side.

SAFETY TIP: Don’t force the movement, let gravity take the knees over to the side

4. FORWARD FOLD

6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

Technique

* Sit with your legs crossed and shins slightly forwards.

* Slowly begin to fold forwards from your hips, allowing your spine to round. 

* Let your arms come to rest wherever they feel most comfortable, perhaps just in front of you.

* Stay for a few breaths and change the cross over of your legs and repeat.

SAFETY TIP: If needed for comfort, place a small pillow underneath your sit bones to help tilt your pelvis forward

5. CAT/COW

6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

Technique

* Start in a tabletop position on all fours, with wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips.

* Curl your spine up towards the ceiling; let the back of your neck be long.

* Then move in the opposite direction, allowing your belly to soften to the floor a little bit and find length from the crown of your head to tail, draw your shoulders down your back.

* Repeat this movement for a few rounds of breath, taking the spine through flexion and extension.

SAFETY TIP: Spread your hands and root down through the joint of your index fingers throughout

6. CHILD’S POSE

6 yoga poses for a better night's sleep

Technique

* Kneel on the floor and fold your torso over your thighs so that your forehead comes to rest on the floor. 

* You can experiment with having your knees together or having a little bit of space between the thighs.

* Arms can rest by the sides of the body or reach out in front.

* Stay in this position for three to five minutes or longer.

SAFETY TIP: Focus on completely softening/ surrendering to the ground


Lifestyle

Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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