6 minutes of yoga for a better night’s sleep
Restless nights can make falling asleep feel impossible, but a few simple yoga poses before bed could improve the quality of your zzz’s.
There are a variety of health benefits to practicing yoga, says Victoria Jackson, yoga instructor at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill. Those include increased flexibility, deepened lung capacity, increased movement of joints, and released stress, anxiety and depression.
“Getting the recommended amount of sleep strengthens the immune system, increases vitality, improves clarity of thought, releases stress, and controls weight management,” she says.
Dana Santas, creator of Radius Yoga Conditioning, recommends a yoga routine involving stretching, breathing and meditative methods, which can help restore the body. The poses also help relieve tensions built up during the day, and lengthening and realigning these areas through these poses can prevent waking in the night from stiffness, aches and pains.
- Functional squat – Begin standing with your feet hip-distance wide, then extend your arms in front of you. Breathe out and sit back into a deep squat. Take three long breaths in the squat position. If you have trouble squatting or finding balance, hold onto something secure for support.
- Warrior one with side bend – From a standing position, step back with your right foot and bend your left knee parallel to your ankle. Keep the back leg straight. Place your left hand on your left hip, then as you inhale, reach your right arm up over your head and bend to the left. Let your breath out and hold the position. Breathe in while returning your arm to your side. Repeat the other side.
- Supine bent-knee twist – Lay on your back, place a pillow under your head if you like, and extend your legs and place your arms at your sides. Hug your left knee to your chest, then breathe in as you keep the right hand on the knee and extend the left arm toward the left. Let your breath out while gently bringing your left knee across your body to the right. Take two deep breaths, then come out of the pose and repeat with the right knee.
- Diaphragmatic breathing and backward-count meditation – You can place a pillow under your head or under your knees for comfort. Lay on your back with your eyes closed. Breathe in through your nose, focus on how the lower ribs expand outward. As you breathe out, focus on how the lower ribs descend. Try lengthening your breaths by inhaling with a five-second count, exhaling with a five count, and pause for two counts after each exhalation.
Performing the six-minute yoga activity before hitting the pillow can help create a perfect groundwork for not only getting to sleep faster, but also to help you stay asleep all night long.
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