We all have those nights when we toss and turn to no avail. Maybe it only happens once in a blue moon for you, or maybe it’s a nightly occurrence.
However often you deal with sleeplessness, it’s real problem when it does occur.
It leaves you tired, grumpy, and unprepared to face the day.
To cast away the sleepless nights, you probably resort to counting sheep—or worse, over the counter sleep aids that leave you drowsy and foggy the following day.
But what if I told you there was a completely natural way to banish sleepless nights for good?
It may seem unbelievable, but you can say goodbye to insomnia forever if you just try one of these simple yoga poses before bed each night.
Now, whether you subscribe to the yogi lifestyle or not, you probably find it hard to believe that you can sleep soundly every night just by bending your legs at a funny angle.
I myself was fairly skeptical of this method of rest when I first encountered it, but I’ve since been swayed to believe in it—especially when I read up on the science behind it.
Turns out, modern science proves that yoga not only has tangible physical health benefits when it comes to exercise and muscle strength, but it also has a proven positive effect on brain function, immune health, and nervous system functioning.
Of the 37 million+ Americans that practice yoga on a regular basis, over 90% report having a stronger body, a calm mind, increased levels of happiness, and greatly reduced stress.
So, before you knock it, try it!
As you may already know, there are many different types of yoga, and within the different disciplines, there are many different poses. Most have both a traditional name and a layman’s name.
For example, you may know the famous ‘downward dog’ pose, which is traditionally called Adho Mukha Shvanasana and is meant to energize and rejuvenate the body by stretching key muscles and engaging your hands, calves, feet, ankles, and spine.
But we aren’t looking for a pose to wake us up! We’re looking for one to lull us to sleep.
Luckily, there are several poses that do just that.
Just like downward dog is a pose that is meant to engage the body and give you newfound energy, there are poses that use the same physical theory to do the opposite.
Downward dog works by stretching out muscles to increase blood flow (which wakes up the body and mind and increases energy) and angles your body so that all of that energy is fueled into your muscles and mind, acting like an espresso shot to your system.
Using this principle, yoga practice offers quite a few poses that use muscles, stretching, blood flow, and nerve connections to help the body edge closer to sleep, even increasing the production of natural chemicals that induce drowsiness, like melatonin.
Well, I’ll share a couple poses with you and tell you a little about the science behind them.
1. Bound Angle Pose
For this pose, simply find a comfortable space and lie down on your back. Brace your shoulders flat on the floor and bend your knees, keeping your feet together. Then, slowly move your legs out at the knees until your knees are resting as close to the floor as possible on either side of you.
Your feet stay with the soles pressed together, and your legs now resemble a diamond shape.
The key with this pose is to remain comfortable. Don’t push your feet too close to your torso and create a sharp angle for your knees—that could strain your leg muscles and do more harm than good!
Simple adjust until you feel a little bit of stretching pressure in your thighs, but can comfortably let your muscles in your legs relax with those knees out.
This pose is particularly helpful for getting to sleep because it allows your body to be at rest. In addition, it opens up the chest, back, shoulders, and hips, making it easier for you to breathe deeply—something that is essential to letting your body know it’s time for a good night’s sleep.
2. Child’s Pose
Another great pose for sleep, and one that is fairly common, is child’s pose.
Child’s pose is often used in yoga classes to give your body a break between more strenuous poses.
By tapping into your sympathetic nervous system (which governs your fight or flight response) you can create a sense of safety by folding in on yourself.
This pose keeps you tight and grounded, which makes you feel secure, and lets your body know that it’s safe to be at rest.
To engage this pose, simply drop onto your knees and sit on your calves. Fold your feet out so that the souls extend beyond your body and face the sky. Then bend over your thighs and stretch out your arms as far as possible in front of you, laying your hands palm-down on the floor.
Once you’re in position, let your forehead drop to the floor between your shoulders and let your muscles relax.
3. Legs up the Wall
The last one I’ll share is arguably the most simplistic, and definitely the most effective in my opinion.
Whenever I try this pose, I’m falling asleep within minutes, while still holding the pose!
For this, you just lie facing up with your bottom against the wall. Raise your legs up against the wall with the soles of your feet against the wall. You should look as though you’re in a seated position with your legs out straight, but with your torso on the floor and your legs towards the ceiling.
Once you’re comfortable, stretch out your arms on either side, settle your head and shoulders, and breathe deeply through the nose.
Though all three of these poses are effective and medically proven to help you fall and stay asleep each night, one may suite you better than the other. For example, the child’s pose is great for people in high pressure jobs, who just can’t let go of the day’s stressors.
Bound angle pose is great for when body aches and pains are keeping you awake, and Legs up the Wall is good for clearing your mind and settling your body, and just generally letting go of the day.
Whatever your ideal pose is, you are sure to wake up feeling well rested the morning after you try it!