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5 Yoga Poses to Help You Rest Better

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/24/2009 6:27 PM   :  124 comments   :  41,493 Views

See More: sleep, yoga,
In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, it has plenty of mental benefits as well. Certain poses can help energize you and others can help relax you.

While I wouldn't recommend a full yoga practice just before bed, doing a few of these gentle, restorative poses before going to sleep can help you rest easier.

You can do most of these poses in your bedroom while wearing your pajamas. You might want to have a mat under you for comfort.

To facilitate your voyage to dream land, turn off the TV and dim the lights. Before beginning, come to a comfortable seated position on your mat and close your eyes. Start breathing in and out through your nose, in long, even breaths. After 10 breaths, open your eyes and begin these poses. You can hold each one for as long as you'd like, at least five breaths.



Child’s pose (Balasana):
Benefits:
Stretches hips, thighs and ankles gently; can help alleviate back pain.
How to:
  • Starting in a kneeling position.
    You have two options to start:
  • Keep your knees together but separate the feet and allow your bottom to rest on the floor. Roll your calves away from your thighs (use your hands) to help you get comfortable.
    For a deeper stretch:
  • Sit back on your heels, shins together. (Place a rolled-up towel between your heels and hips to ease this stretch.)
  • From here, start to lower to the floor. Your belly will rest on or between your thighs, and your forehead will reach towards the mat. (Place a towel or a yoga block under your forehead if it won't reach the floor.
  • Stretch the arms out in front of you to feel a stretch up the length of the back.
  • Stretch the arms alongside the body, with the fingertips facing the toes, to stretch between the shoulder blades.
    TIP: Roll your forehead back and forth across the mat with your arms along your sides to help alleviate sinus congestion.



    Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha svanasana):
    Benefits:
    Calms and energizes the body; stretches the shoulders, arches, hamstrings, calves, and hands; strengthens arms and legs; helps insomnia and stress. How to:
  • Come on to your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, your knees under your hips.
  • Tuck your toes under and push your hips up, your body forming a triangle with your bottom as the peak.
  • If your legs are tight, keep your heels lifted and legs bent if needed.



  • Pull your bellybutton in and let your head hang, moving the shoulderblades away from the ears.
  • Spread your fingers and toes wide and try to keep the weight evenly distributed.
  • To take the weight off your arms and make this more of a restful pose, engage your quadriceps (by lifting your kneecaps).
    TIP: If your arms need some help in this pose, try placing your hands on the seat of a chair set against a wall.



    Head to knee stretch (Janu sirsasana A):
    Benefits:
    Stretches the hamstrings.
    How to:
  • From a straight-legged seated position, slide your right foot inside your left thigh, the right knee coming out at least a 90-degree angle.
  • Center your torso over the extended left leg and exhale as you begin to lower to that thigh.
  • Flex your extended foot and reach for your toes (or use a towel as a strap).
  • With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the chest is getting closer to the floor).
  • Inhale as you roll slowly up and repeat on the other side.
    TIP: If your knee can't rest comfortably on the floor, roll up a towel to support the bent knee.



    Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana):
    Benefits:
    Stretches the spine and the hamstrings.
    How to:
  • Sit on your mat, with your legs extended in front of you, heels slightly flexed and bellybutton pulled to the spine for support.
  • Inhale, sit tall and raise your arms in the air.
  • Exhale, lean forward and reach for your toes. Allow your arms to rest on your thighs, shins or at your ankles.
  • Allow your head to drop and gaze past the end of your nose. Allow your upper body to relax.
  • If you can straighten the legs, flex the feet, and engage the quadriceps (by lifting your knee cap) to keep your knees from locking.
  • With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the chest is getting closer to the floor).
    TIP: Can't reach your toes? Wrap a towel around your feet and grab either end with your hands to improvise a yoga strap. If your hamstrings are tight, you can bend your legs.



    Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani):
    Benefits:
    Stretches the hamstrings gently, allows blood that has accumulated in the feet and legs to re-circulate in the body. Offers a gentle release for the low back.
    How to:
  • Sit next to a wall and lie onto your back, bringing your knees into your chest. (You can also lie in bed and do this pose!)
  • Straighten your legs and place them on the wall while wiggling your bottom closer to the wall.
  • Allow your heels to rest gently on the wall.
  • Extend the arms overhead for an added stretch.
    TIP: This pose is great for anyone who works on their feet. Spend a few minutes in this pose (you can even do this in bed) each night to give your legs a break. Remember this one--it's also great after a long day of holiday shopping!

    Have you tried any of these poses? Will you? Which one is your favorite?


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    Comments

    • XXUPINFLAMESXX
      124
      I am excited to try these moves. I have always had an interest in trying yoga and these moves could potentially help some of my biggest issues: lack of flexibility, lower back pain, and insomnia. Thanks! - 9/30/2011   8:17:01 PM
    • 123
      Im wanting to do more stretching and relaxing exercise. Looking forward to trying. - 4/14/2011   7:38:28 PM
    • EAGLES_WINGS
      122
      When I was more active in yoga as a young person, the child's pose was quite my favorite, so relaxing and comforting. Though, now the downward facing dog gives my body and back a really great stretch about any time of day. I love the stretch with putting my legs up on the wall...it really gets the circulation going, I always feel better when I get up from that one. My downfall is consistency with yoga currently. I have had a lot of life issues and physical problems and I need to start weaving healthy habits back into my daily living like yoga practice. It has so many benefits that I never knew about as a younger woman. I love the informative blogs and articles here. I am so glad that the East has so much to offer us in helping learn how to take care of our bodies and soul with or without subscribing to their religious practices. I like to be open about cultural differences. The world is a small place. - 4/3/2011   5:18:17 AM
    • 121
      I will add these to my bedtime routine. Thanks - 6/10/2010   12:20:36 AM
    • 120
      Thanks for the article. I will try to do these before bedtime instead of earlier in the day. Some good ones to learn too! - 4/1/2010   9:01:45 AM
    • 119
      I absolutely love yoga. I try to do as much as I can. I will try the poses before bed. I usually do my yoga practice, in the afternoon. Thanks for the info. - 3/13/2010   11:55:46 PM
    • 118
      I have done some of these poses before but not before going to bed. I will have to give it a try. - 2/8/2010   12:40:00 PM
    • PATINNCNOW
      117
      I regularly do the downward dog and child's pose. I will try some of the others too. - 1/27/2010   6:29:04 PM
    • 116
      I am going to try the child pose one before I take my nap today. Hope my big belly doesn't get in the way! - 1/26/2010   11:29:33 AM
    • RODNEYSGIRL_123
      115
      I will add these to my favorites Thanks!!! - 1/26/2010   11:05:57 AM
    • 114
      I tried the down ward facing dog and the head to knee stretch. I had forgot about using a towel to help stretch and it was so much better especially for a beginner. It was also relaxing. Going to hit the sack now and see if i actually rest better for a change. - 1/25/2010   11:38:43 PM
    • 113
      I am going to try these tonight, as I have not been very rested lately. Thanks for sharing!! - 1/25/2010   11:22:20 PM
    • ACADIANGIRL88
      112
      I will definatly try these poses tonight!!! They would be nice for the morning too, would help you wake up slowly and strech out those tense muscles! - 1/25/2010   6:58:55 PM
    • 111
      I have only had 1yoga class, but I find some simple stretching on my own is great, too. Thanks for the info! - 1/25/2010   6:41:40 PM
    • 110
      Childs pose is my favorite anytime. At first it was hard for me because i carry my weight mostly in my hips and belly but once I got warmed up for the stretch I can sit in it for a long time. It feels great on my lower back and shoulders. Downward facing dog is always my favorite for a work out. There is a yoga center in my area and they do power yoga... this is a very typical pose... and its great for a full body stretch. - 1/25/2010   2:24:07 PM
    • 109
      I haven't had much opportunity to learn about yoga and really want to, so this is wonderful information. I think I'll start tonight. Thanks - 1/25/2010   1:40:48 PM
    • DWZT111
      108
      I can't wait to get started! - 1/25/2010   1:12:19 PM
    • JONESKIMBERLY
      107
      I love yoga! It has relieved my back pain and overall body stiffness without the use of over the counter or prescription drugs. I was introduced to it through a work offered exercise class two years ago and have participated ever since. I've purchased DVDs for at home practice as well. It has relieved stress by allowing me to focus on the moment via poses, deep breathing and relaxation. I do not use it to practice religion but as exercise tool and would recommend it to anyone. - 12/26/2009   12:29:45 PM
    • SPIRITUALART
      106
      yoga basic positions is beneficial for the health in ways that modern science is just beginning to understand. Even though it has been applied with therapeutic intention for thousand of years, benefits of yoga Therapy is only just now emerging as a discipline in itself.
      More health care practitioners are starting to include yogic techniques in their approach to healing — andmore yoga teachers
      give a therapeutic intention to their teaching. People who have never tried yoga before are starting to consider including Yoga in their treatment plan.

      http://www.spiritualarticle.com

      As science begins to document the importance of understanding the interrelation of all existing things, it looks to Yoga with
      an intrigued eye, for Yoga speaks Unity in every word. As yoga techniques are researched and new data is gathered,it becomes
      easier for science and the medical establishment to understand and accept the benefits of Yoga Therapy. Yet there is still not one consensual definition of the discipline.
      In order to arrive to an adequate definition and to come up with proper standards for benefits of yoga Therapy, it is crucial at this early stage to properly address some delicate professional and ethical issues. At the same time it is important to educate the general public about benefits of yoga Therapy’s benefits and careful use. so this article was really helpful to me.. - 12/10/2009   3:11:00 AM
    • 105
      Doing yoga on a regular basis is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. You always just need to start with what your body can do and work your way up, just like any other exercise. I hope the commenter who was concerned about Hinduism will reconsider. I don't think I've ever had a Hindu classmate (not that it would bother me). As a matter of fact, most of them are Catholic, including a couple nuns at one point. Many people find that the concentration and mindful focus that yoga brings can actually enhance their own spiritual/faith practice. - 12/7/2009   10:16:31 PM
    • DONNA753
      104
      i.m thinking of joining a yoga class our gym is starting one..... - 12/6/2009   12:34:50 PM
    • ZEE8792
      103
      I started to practice Vyasa yoga and hatha yoga .... about 3 1/2 mths ago...

      I absolutely love it ... I have learned how to breath better ... my flexibility, balance, strength has greatly improved ...and it helps a great deal with my sciatica ...I too get a lot of tightness from running and spinning ... it has helped with that as well .... I have even learned how to completely let go of everything and just relax ... not for long periods but long enough to feel at peace ... every practice is a challenge and I love that ...

      I recommend practicing yoga to everyone I know .. Anyone can practice yoga ...

      Shanti ..... to all ...:)



      - 12/5/2009   8:41:33 PM
    • 102
      About the last comment..... One does not have to be hidu to uderstand and benefit from yoga....yoga is about the person performing the asanas. - 12/5/2009   1:02:05 PM
    • 101
      I find it appalling at the responses here. No negative input. ODD. I will not do Yoga for any reason. It is Hinduism, their way of worshiping their gods.... - 12/5/2009   12:49:25 AM
    • SJPAPMOM
      100
      these poses look interesting and not too difficult. i will definitely try them. thank you!! - 12/4/2009   12:14:54 PM
    • RHIANNONRINGS
      99
      Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani): Th e last pose is great for migraine headache and also for swelling. I used to use it all the time if I felt a migraine coming on or had swelling. So glad for the reminder! - 12/4/2009   10:23:17 AM
    • 98
      Thanks for sharing these simple poses. I am dealing with a lot of extra stress this year and plan to fit these moves into my days! - 12/3/2009   3:29:48 PM
    • SEWINGLADY145
      97
      Hi all
      I am really enjoying these post. I have become very aware of the benefits of yoga and have startetd beginner classes. I am going tory some of these poses, since getting to sleep is an ongoing problem for me. - 12/3/2009   2:00:45 PM
    • 96
      I'm becomming a big yoga fan in large part because of the benifits of the restoratives. I adore Child's Pose and find that even when I'm not in class, that act of still stretching makes me feel a lot better. - 12/3/2009   11:56:34 AM
    • 95
      This is good to know...I would try some of them.. - 12/2/2009   10:49:32 PM
    • DOLLYGRINDLE
      94
      Thank you for reminding me to stretch before bed. These poses are wonderful. I used to take yoga but had to quit because of health reasons (broken neck). There is no reason now why I cannot do them. Dolly - 12/2/2009   7:48:18 PM
    • 93
      The head to knee stretch and the seated forward fold have always been my favorites but it's kind of hard getting the full stretch in when you're 66 yrs. Does bring back the good times I could do them at the snap of a finger. - 12/2/2009   5:57:59 PM
    • BVNAWAR
      92
      I use to do the legs up the wall, and now can once again do it since my weight loss. It is really refreshing and calming for lower back pain. I will try the others now also and thanks for the great directions on how to do them. - 12/2/2009   4:13:21 PM
    • 91
      When I took aerobics a few years back, we did most of these stretches. Now I'm retired and have a knee that's about to be replaced. I could do the last few. It's hard for me to get on the floor and then get up again.

      I used to love the child's pose, but with artificial knees I can't do it anymore.

      Thanks for the suggestions! - 12/2/2009   9:26:42 AM
    • CLPETERSON76
      90
      I will definetly try these! Thanks for sharing! - 12/2/2009   3:34:17 AM
    • CAMRRT
      89
      I use to do yoga, and actually like the childs pose but I have bad knees, so I have a lot of problems doing some of the moves. Any ideas? - 12/2/2009   12:42:52 AM
    • 88
      I like "Legs Up the Wall" and "Child's Pose." Both help relax my lower back, which is sore right now. - 12/2/2009   12:03:19 AM
    • 87
      My favorite poses are the downward facing dog, definitley feel the relief from my lower back doing this pose, the childs pose is relaxing as well. I will try this routine before bed tomorrow night and see If it helps relax me, thanks for sharing. - 12/1/2009   11:06:11 PM
    • 86
      Great excercises. I will try them - 12/1/2009   8:22:23 PM
    • 85
      You can ALL do yoga. I have been taking yoga classes or doing tapes at home since Lilias was on PBS back in the early 70's. Each posture should only be to YOUR comfort! You can stretch a little or stretch a lot, depending on your flexibility. Try it, you'll love it. My favorite part of a yoga class is at the end, no, not the relaxing pose, but the part where I realize that I've forgotten all the problems I walked into class with, if only for a that short hour. - 12/1/2009   7:58:08 PM
    • 84
      I got to take a class last spring and really enjoyed it. We did all of these poses. I liked the legs up the wall - great for my back! - 12/1/2009   7:13:11 PM
    • 83
      I Love Yoga. My fav pose is the child's pose. I have tried all of these except feet on the wall. I'll have to try it. - 12/1/2009   7:11:01 PM
    • BBROWNLEE
      82
      I go to a yoga class one night a week and always sleep better that night. It has improved my back and my posture. I am 54, overwieght and not athletic and I enjoy it so I would encourage everyone to give it a try. :) - 12/1/2009   6:54:57 PM
    • 81
      I also like the child's pose. It is very relaxing! - 12/1/2009   5:56:07 PM
    • 80
      I've done both downard facing dog and child's pose, both of which do wonders to help relax back and hips. It's important to not try to go to quickly, and to not force yourself into the pose. Just relax into it as far as you can go. Yoga is a great mind/body connection! :) - 12/1/2009   5:52:22 PM
    • 79
      I wish I could find the print option. I really like this blog and even though I've not done yoga yet, I'd probably do these. - 12/1/2009   4:47:01 PM
    • 78
      I will try the one with your feet up against the wall. I know I can probably do that one. LOL - 12/1/2009   3:18:36 PM
    • 77
      I love yoga it makes me feel so good and relaxed, also relieves so much stress. Its awesome!!!! - 12/1/2009   2:51:25 PM
    • 76
      I will definitely try these poses! The one w/your feet up against he wall looks relaxing! - 12/1/2009   2:25:27 PM
    • CLS014
      75
      Yoga is for EVERYONE - really! Anyone can do yoga, from a 5 year old kid, to a 75 year old man. Yoga will help those with bad backs. You do not have to be flexible to do yoga (but you will improve in that category). Yoga is for athletes, for people who have been sedentary. I was a skeptic before I tried it, and now I'm hooked. Yoga is non-competitive, if you are uncomfortable in a pose, you're taking it too far. It is about listening to your body. I really recommend this activity to anyone. You'll feel more confident, more self-aware, more relaxed, stronger, and more flexible over time. - 12/1/2009   1:34:17 PM

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