On the first night of my Yoga Teacher Training in 2013 the head instructor asked me what was going on with me physically and spiritually. I told her I hadn’t been sleeping well, wanted a better night’s sleep and there was a lot on my mind at the time. The projects I was working on filled my head as soon as I laid down at night. She gave me a yoga prescription for my sleeplessness and told me to do Halasana (a.k.a. Plow) right before bed. She explained that I must make sure this pose truly is the last thing I do before sleep, i.e. teeth brushed, no more communicating with family or on my phone, lights out, pajamas on. I took the prescription and it worked. There are countless poses that reduce insomnia. Here are a few.
Halasana is a pose done while lying on your back. Set yourself up to create a strong base in the back of your shoulders and arms, just as you would in Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). Kick your legs overhead and press your toes into the floor behind you. Stay in the pose for up to 5 minutes and slowly draw the legs back over head and return them to the floor. This pose is therapeutic as it calms the mind. A calm mind reduces stress and anxiety.
Uttanasana (a.k.a. Standing Forward Fold) is a standing pose. From Tadasana (Mountain Pose) inhale and raise your arms up alongside your ears. Exhale and fold forward from the hip, keeping the spine long, as the crown of head lowers to the floor. If your hamstrings are tight, keep a bend in the knee to avoid rounding in the spine. This pose diminishes insomnia through the therapeutic properties of inversion.
Sukhasana (a.k.a. Easy Pose) is a seated pose. Sit on the ground or a block. Adjust your seat height so that your hips are higher than your knees. Cross the legs at the shin, knees wide apart, heels of the feet are tucked under the opposite leg. Rest your hands, either palms up or down, on your legs. Sit up well, with a tall spine. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, drawing long, controlled inhales into and out of your nose. Stay seated in this pose for up to 5 minutes. The act of taking time to sit and solely focus on breath cultivates a high level of mental clarity.
If you’re experiencing sleepless nights, try one of these poses right before you lay down to sleep tonight. If it works for you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a note below in the comments section.