6 simple yoga exercises to ensure a good night's sleep
Stress, tension and disturbing events always take a toll on sleep. And the lack of proper rest, in turn, undermines physical and mental health. This is an axiom. That's why it's so important to relieve tension before going to bed. This can be done, in particular, with the help of yoga poses - asanas.
Sportskeeda has selected six of these poses that are most effective for falling asleep. At the same time, they are accessible even to beginners.
Reclining butterfly pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This asana can be performed directly on the floor, but to support the lower back, it is better to put a roller or pillow under your back. Sit so that your buttocks rest on this support, and then lie down on it. Connect your feet and pull them closer to your groin so that your legs open with your knees to the side, like butterfly wings.
Don't try to press your knees to the floor or touch your heels to your buttocks; your goal is to relax, not stretch. Moreover, if you feel discomfort in the lower half of your body, you can also place small cushions under your hips for additional support. Or under the neck, if you feel tension in this area.
Spread your arms to the side so that your hands are approximately at the level of your heart and place them palms up on the floor. Stay in this position for 1 to 10 minutes, or longer if you feel comfortable, and focus on your breathing.
Additional benefit: the pose can relieve abdominal pain during menstruation.
Cautions: this pose is best avoided if you have a history of knee injuries.
Child's pose (Balasana)
This pose is often used in yoga classes to ease tension between more challenging exercises, which means it's also a great evening relaxation pose.
Stand on a yoga mat with your knees, feet and big toes touching. Slowly kneel down and sit on your heels.
As you exhale slowly, take a few "steps" with your arms in front of you so that at the end your body is horizontal, your forehead is touching the floor, and your arms are straight and extended and lying palms down.
If you find it difficult to lower your head to the floor, place a pillow under your forehead. The main thing is to feel your body stretch out and relax completely.
Stay in this position for as long as you feel comfortable and don't forget to follow your breathing. Then, using the same "steps" with your hands, return to a sitting position.
Cautions: Balasana should not be performed by those with injured knees, and people with hypertension should not lower their head to the floor, but put it on some kind of support so that it remains at the same level as the heart.
Forward bend (Uttanasana)
This pose helps relieve tension from the back muscles and gently stretches them, and it is pain in this part of the body that often prevents us from falling asleep. Uttanasana also improves spinal flexibility.
Stand up straight, feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips. Bend slightly in the lower back and start leaning forward, keeping your body completely straight, until your torso hangs vertically. Ideally, your stomach should touch your legs. You can hold your arms by the elbows or place your palms freely on the floor. The head and torso should hang and stretch freely under the influence of gravity, and the neck should remain completely relaxed.
If this exercise is difficult for you to do on straight legs - you round your back when you bend over or feel tension or pain in the back of your thigh - you can bend your knees slightly. Then, once you are fully bent and relaxed, you can gently straighten your legs a little at a time. Over time, the muscles will stretch enough, but you shouldn't rush it.
You need to get out of the pose by placing your hands on your hips and slowly lifting your torso so that your spine is completely straightened.
Cautions: Uttanasana is not recommended for people with back injuries, high or low blood pressure.
Cow Cat Pose (Chakarvakasana)
This pose gently stretches the back muscles and relieves clamps, improves flexibility. It is easier to perform than Uttanasana.
Get down on all fours and make sure that your knees are strictly under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. As you inhale, slowly bend your lower back and pull your pelvis back, simultaneously pulling your shoulders back and tilting your head back. Look up at the ceiling. This is the cow pose.
As you exhale, slowly lower your pelvis and shoulders, round your back and bend your head as low as possible. This is the cat pose. Alternate with several times.
During the exercise, it is important to make sure that the neck remains relaxed and to perform all movements slowly. If you feel any pain, then you are doing the exercise incorrectly.
You can make the exercise a little more difficult by placing your feet on your toes while inhaling, and placing them flat on the mat while exhaling.
Cautions: It is especially important for people with back injuries to make sure that the asana is painless. If pain does occur, it is better to give up.
Pose of the satisfied child (Anandabalasana)
This pose helps to stretch and relax the muscles of the legs and relieve tension from the back, especially the lower back.
Lie on your back, place your hands on the sides of your body and relax. Pull your knees up to your chest one by one, with your feet pointing to the ceiling.
In a simplified version, just wrap your hands around your feet on the sides, in a more complicated version, put your hands between your legs and grasp your big toes with your fingers.
Gently spread your hips apart and lift your lower legs so that your feet are perpendicular to the ceiling. Remember how often babies play with their legs and what position they are in.
At the final point, your knees and ankles should be bent at a 90-degree angle, your hips should be perpendicular to the floor, your back should be fully pressed to the surface, your shoulders should be relaxed, and your head should lie freely without the slightest tension in your neck.
Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Remember to monitor your breathing and relaxation. Then release your feet, straighten your legs and place them on the floor, and return your arms to a position on the sides of your body.
Cautions: injuries to the knees, calves, neck and shoulders, high blood pressure and pregnancy are contraindications for this asana.
Corpse pose (Shavasana)
This is the best pose for falling asleep. Anyone who has ever attended a group yoga class knows that there is almost always at least one person in the class who falls asleep in Shavasana. The degree of relaxation here is maximum.
To perform the exercise, lie on your back, spread your legs slightly wider than your shoulders, place your hands palms up, slightly apart, and do not press them to your body.
Close your eyes, calm your breathing and start mentally scanning your body from toes to crown for even the slightest tension. If you notice any, relax the tense muscle. It is highly likely that you will not complete this scan because you will fall asleep beforehand. Therefore, you can perform Shavasana right away in bed.
By and large, this pose has no contraindications.
As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, yoga coach Galina Arvakhi told us how to start practicing yoga from scratch without harming yourself. One of the main principles is to listen to your body and respond to all its signals of discomfort.