The 2 Restorative Yoga Poses Needed to Sleep
The stimulation of a busy day or stressful week can leave you feeling exhausted as you wake up, however unfortunately, when it comes time to hit the pillow. . . nothing. It can be frustrating not being able to get the adequate sleep needed for what you have planned the next day. A great solution when laying in bed staring at the ceiling is to take a minute and practice these two restorative poses:
Supportive Reclining Pose
Above you’ll see a photographs taken at an event in Washington, D.C., Yoga as Lifestyle Medicine, where Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, PT touched on Restorative Yoga as a form of therapy for those with overactive nervous systems and problems sleeping.
For this pose, you’ll need three bolsters, two blankets and a band or object to cover your eyes. You have the option to practice this pose while in bed as well. There are two ways of practicing this pose:
1. Start by lying down on your side, placing the first bolster (can also use a couple pillows) to separate your legs and create a parallel space for your hip bones to rest. Place the second bolster under your head so that your brain and heart are level. The third bolster should be placed behind the spin, pressing up against your kidneys and surrounding muscles. This releasing a tension by placing pressure on that area where your adrenal glands are located.
The blankets placed I feel give a sense of security to the body. Inducing warmth to the feet and upper body is important for relaxation. Stretching the arm closest to the ground, elevate the wrist with a block or folded blanket, while giving the hand a weighted object to hold. This helps blood circulation flow evenly. Covering the eyes allows the mind to settle into the pose, focusing on how the body feels and enjoying the state of awe.
Judith placed me in this pose while I attended this event, and as I settled into the pose she whispered, “ It’s not what you do, but who you are why people love you. You don’t have to do anything to be loved, you are already loved.”
2. Place one bolster under your knees, and the second vertically along your spine and head. The third bolster is placed horizontally under the one reaching up your back so that your head is elevated comfortably. Extra neck support is sometimes needed, but remember this is your pose so as long as you’re comfortable . . . it’s working. Cover your upper body and feet with blankets, as well as covering the eyes to sink into the body for this pose.
Flexion with Elevation
The idea behind this pose is to elevate your legs in order to align your heart with the brain. The relationship of blood flow in this pose is bound to get your body deep into rest mode. You’ll need a chair for this pose, as the idea is to elevate your knees at a 90 degree angle above your hip bones (sometimes a pillow is needed under your tailbone to achieve this). Remember to cover your feet to keep your extremities warm. Elevating the wrists away from the body creates a nice environment for proper
Something interesting I learned from this pose was the use of a pillow on top of the stomach area. Judith explained how this mimicked a full stomach, which creates a sense of calm in the body. Linking this to eating disorders caused from anxiety, I noticed that this feeling may be why those who suffer eat to find comfort. The feeling of a full belly inhibits a sense of calm, which depletes anxiety, so it would seem the two are linked.
You can use either or both poses to help you get to sleep. The idea is transfer the attention to the body and getting each part of the body to a place of comfort. Becoming self aware helps your mind slow down and focus on how your body is feeling and what it’s doing. Make sure you set up the right environment specific for you to get into this state for bedtime.